Speaker calls for decorum amid standoff with Banjul NAM

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By Omar Bah

The Speaker of the National Assembly has appealed to parliamentarians to exercise decorum and respect each other’s comments and opinions during sittings, a day after he was forced to send the Banjul South NAM out of the chambers.

Speaking to The Standard yesterday, Speaker Fabakary Tombong Jatta, who had to send out Hon Njai for refusing to withdraw her statement calling a claim by the Deputy Speaker, Seedy Njie a “lie” said: “If you are to be a National Assembly member, you must be discipline and be law abiding. To me, that is the character of a good MP. You don’t expect NAMs to use abusive language against each other. If you disagree with your fellow MP, bring out your facts but I will not tolerate insults wherever they may come from. So, individual members’ ability to accept the truth is what makes the difference,” Jatta told The Standard yesterday.

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Speaker Jatta said he will not allow NAMs to “unnecessarily prevail on issues that they definitely know are not correct. That would make life difficult for all of us”.

Commenting on concerns that he is losing control of the Assembly, Speaker Jatta said: “No, because the National Assembly is guided by laws which as the Speaker, I am expected to follow and I have been doing that to the best of my ability. You see, assemblies are like this. You don’t expect an Assembly to be a graveyard but NAMs should be the embodiment of every good aspect that the people want.”

Responding to allegations of his lack of neutrality, Jatta said: “As Speaker, in the exercise of my duty, I have no preference. The Gambia is the image I have in front of me and whether you are APRC, NPP, UDP or Independent, is not my concern. My concern is to ensure that I treat everybody based on the laws that guide us.”

He said both the majority and minority leaders were cooperative and in the absence of any one of them, the session would not have been held.

“If it was left to the minority side, parliament would not have gotten the quorum to sit yesterday (Wednesday) but we were able to carve out a way to get the best out of it by drafting a motion,” Speaker Jatta said.

He said the debate proper will come after the submission of the committee’s report.