PROTESTERS STORM ASSEMBLY, URGE NAMS TO REJECT BILL

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By Lamin Cham National Assembly Members arriving to debate the Supplementary Budget Bill yesterday were greeted by a crowd of protesters calling on them to reject the bill asking them to approve funds other than the ones covered in the 2019 budget. The slogan-chanting crowd, called #OccupyNA, greeted the NAMS with placards reading “Reject This Bill, Power to the People”, “Scrutinise Government Officials for Accountability”. Tony Mendy, one of the protesters said they went to the Assembly to voice their disapproval at the way the government plans to spend the taxpayers’ money and to let the representatives know how the population is feeling about it before they go ahead to approve it. “What is so unreasonable and even unconstitutional is that they have already spent this money before coming to the Assembly for approval. This practice is wrong. They should have come to the Assembly first if they want to spend more than the approved budget. We are here to tell the NAMS not to tolerate that kind of attitude from the government,” Mendy chided. He also took issues with the paramilitary police who were deployed in large numbers with riot gears to stop them from accessing the premises of the Assembly building. “I think the police should learn from the Faraba incident and allow peaceful protesters do their thing and go. They should not always show force or block peaceful demonstrations. Look at us here, no one is armed or disturbing the peace. All what we are doing is holding our banner and we just want to go in and see the NAMS about our concerns, ” Mendy said. As the morning wore on and the push-and-pull ensured between the protesters and police, Halifa Sallah, NAM of Serekunda showed up and was immediately surrounded by the protesters. After listening to them, he advised them to first look for an opportunity to get in and follow the proceedings to identify and know what the NAMS were saying. “I think you should have selected a few among you to go and try to obtain cards for you to access the chambers and follow the proceedings. As it stands now that would be difficult but next time that would be the best method. So I would recommend you disperse and find ways of following the debate,” Sallah advised the group who continued their stand off with the police for much of the morning. The Standard later gathered that the bill was rejected by the Assembly.]]>

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