Mr Minteh who just been appointed to the protocol office at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar described the statements of the outgone British envoy, David Morley as “wholly unfounded” and “totally misleading”.
He asserted: “What David Morley said is a gross distortion of the reality. Ambassador Morley made claims and arrogated credits [to Britain] that no Gambian will believe. We all remember very well when Jammeh came to power in 1994 the British government advised their citizens not to come here. To say that there has been grassroots support is misleading and unfounded.
“I, as a Gambian, and many other Gambians for that matter, are not aware at any point in time of any major projects or British undertaking to support The Gambia’s development programmes. Going as far as saying that they enjoy a kind of grassroots relationship is not true. It is not something that is happening. He said they have good grassroots support and relationships, but with whom? Even when they talk about small projects, it is chicken change that is not actually at the level of government-to-government to support the country’s development. There is no one major activity supported by the British government that one can say has gone a long way in supporting the development of the people; be it education, health sector.”
Turning his attention to Britain’s criticism of The Gambia’s human rights record in its annual country report, the APRC militant said based on “empirical evidence”, the UK has a worse human rights record than The Gambia.
“The British have a worse human rights record than us. They have many blemishes on their human rights records like unfair and unjust treatment of migrants. They are engaged in many activities that are not in respect of the sovereignty of other countries in league with other countries that impair human dignity. They are just blowing issues out of all proportions. There is true justice in The Gambia. The government has set up national Legal Aid Agency. If the government did not have respect for human rights, we would not have even cared to establish that. It is there to help people who cannot afford to hire lawyers to enhance their ability to access justice. Again, how many young Gambians have been given the opportunity to study law and are now presiding over cases with independence and fairness?
“Jammeh has done what no other has done in The Gambia when in 1994 when he took over and asked people to decide how long they wanted him to stay in power through the National Consultative Committee. Jammeh is the pioneer of democracy in The Gambia. He is a great statesman. It is a mark of the British disregard for human rights that they have been here for 400 years and built only two [high] schools and hospitals. If they were true believers in human rights, they would have built schools to allow people to learn. They cannot tell us whether we are democratic or not.”
Leaving the Commonwealth
Further countering the former British diplomat on The Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, he said: “Leaving the Commonwealth is good for us because it only reminded us of the trauma of 400 years of British looting in The Gambia. The ambassador mentioned benefits The Gambia received but if that had happened, The Gambia had right to such support because we had been contributing and it is our own money. They could only build two [high] schools for us one of which was only for the sons of chiefs. The ambassador should not try to mislead people because we the Gambians know our true friends. We know our true friends who are supportive of President Jammeh’s development agenda. The Gambia has been on the right developmental track for two decades. Gambians should be aware that gone are those days when these so-called imperialists try to mislead us.
“President Jammeh is a statesman and he is the real architect of Gambian democracy because he is the first one who gave us the voice. He has built many schools from primary to senior schools and even university. The Gambia belongs to Gambians. There is freedom of press here. There are more newspapers now than ever before. There is no room for too much talking and division. Gambians have to support the president in the task of national development and by the grace of Allah we will get there because Jammeh believes in Allah and He is firmly behind him.”
By Sainey Darboe]]>