By Omar Bah
The National Assembly member for Upper Fulladu West, Sana Jawara has clarified that the rejection on Saturday of government’s plan to extend the state of public emergency for 45 days was not politically motivated.
The government’s plan to extend the state of public emergency by 45 days failed to get enough votes on Saturday despite Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou informing lawmakers that there is “no doubt that the coronavirus continues to pose a clear and present danger to The Gambia and remains deadly. So the government needs to continue taking that will, among other things, break the chain of transmission in order to prevent a further spread of the virus and concurrently alleviate the consequent hardship that all of us may face”.
Critics were quick to say the rejection was politically motivated and some accusing UDP NAMs of deciding on a pre-planned agenda among themselves to reject the extension.
But the UDP lawmaker and a member of the National Assembly special committee monitoring the state of emergency, told The Standard: “What happened Saturday was confusing for so many to the point that some people are drawing conclusion that it was political. This and that. But that is not the case. What happened was a massive confusion for everyone and is a learning course for the parliament.”
Further justifying his argument, Hon Jawara said the special committee tasked with monitoring the state of public emergency had toured the whole country including markets, the airport, land borders, seaports, fish landing sites and came back with recommendations that the government is not serious with the implementation of the emergency regulations.
“What we have found on the ground simply means that nothing has changed; people are not respecting the regulations and there are so many gaps in and outside of cabinet. We recommended that our findings should be part of any future extension which should not be more than 21 days because the longer it takes for these things to be implemented, the worse it is for Gambians and the economy. So the shorter it is the better”.
“Therefore, we recommended that the executive should be able to observe the state of emergency in 21 days and report back to us. If there is no progress, we will then decide not to extend any further because we will then realise that they are not serious, but if we realise that there is progress, we can then listen to them”.
But he said the Speaker’s decision to ask a question to pass the motion without the inclusion of the committee’s recommendations sparked the whole controversy and the subsequent decision to reject the extension.
“The problem is that if we had passed the motion for 45 days it will mean a blank 45 days with no conditions attached, meaning what is happening now will continue to happen. This is why I said to my guys ‘no we cannot do that’. So hopefully we will comeback on Monday and see how to approve the 21 days with conditions,” he added.