|Sports Minister Alieu K. Jammeh|
Gambia’s Sports Ministry has said it abhors the distasteful tone of language used in a letter by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) addressed to the Gambia National Olympic Committee last week.
While exhorting the Gambia Government not to interfere with the affairs of the GNOC, the IOC called a sports tribunal established by the Youth and Sports Minister “so-called” in the wake of the publication of the tribunal’s findings on last year’s GNOC elections.
However, the Sports Ministry in a letter addressed to the IOC President, Jacque Rogge, said it condemns the “undiplomatic threats” embedded therein.
“In the fulfillment of its core mandate within the provisions of national laws, regulations and policies, the ministry will not be swayed by a local or international body that does not intend to comply or support in redressing the abnormalities in the country,” the permanent Secretary, Mr. Mambanyick Njie said.
He added: “The only sure thing that IOC letter has been able to achieve is making it almost impossible for any negotiations with the GNOC to take place.”
The ministry said it has “no interest” in interfering with the affairs of the GNIOC but “shall always intervene” to restore constitutionality in the management and delivery of any sports in the country in the event of any violation of the laws or the statues governing such association or committee.
On June 12, 2012, the Sports Ministry revived the “ill-fated crisis” that followed the February 2011 elections of the GNOC, by calling it “a farce.”
The sports ministry’s stance followed the release of findings by a sports tribunal it setup to look into last year’s GNOC elections which saw Mr. Alhagie Momodou Dibba take the reins at the expense of Mr. Abdoulie Bax Touray who boycotted the polls.
“Such an election without the supervision of the National Sports Council which is mandated to do so by law could best be described as a farce,” the sports ministry, headed by Mr. Alieu K. Jammeh, said.
While warning it will take “appropriate, responsive and responsible action” in due course, it added: “The credibility of the election of February 12, 2011 was largely diminished as a result of voting by non- eligible voters.”
However, two-days later, the Swiss-based offices of the world’s Olympic sports governing body, the IOC wrote to the GNOC saying “This so-called sports tribunal appointed by a government body has no authority to interfere with the internal operations of your NOC, including election process.”
The IOC takes a dim view of governmental interference in the affairs of national Olympic committees (NOCs) which enjoys autonomy.
The IOC NOC Relations Director, Pere Miro noted they are aware that Gambia Sports Ministry-appointed sport tribunal has issued a number of recommendations questioning the outcome and results of last year’s GNOC general assembly.
The IOC reiterated the fundamental principle of autonomy of the NOCs, saying “an NOC is not a public or government body.” It added that Gambia’s national sports legislations are incompatible with the basic principles of the Olympic Charter, should such existing rules give power to government authorities to interfere with the internal operations of the country’s NOC.
While exhorting for the revision of the sporting laws of the Gambia, the IOC and the African National Olympic Committee Association (ANOCA), said they’ll immediately react and take appropriate measures to protect the autonomy of the GNOC in accordance with Rule 27.9 of the Olympic Charter, should the government take concrete measures against it.
Rule 27.9 of the Olympic Charter which states: Apart from the measures and sanctions provided in the case of infringement of the Olympic Charter, the IOC executive board may take any appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of an NOC including suspension of, or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any governmental or other body causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered.
London Olympic Threat
The IOC said it will not be forced to take measures which would regrettably affect the representation of the Gambian delegation and athletes in the London 2012 Olympic Games which are fast approaching, but hopes that the government authorities will understand the “seriousness” of this issue.
Meanwhile, the legal counsel of the GNOC, Ida Drammeh, has filed a suit in the high court against the sports tribunal report seeking among other things to establish the independence of the GNOC, the privately-owned The Standard Newspaper reported on Thursday.
Gambia’s sports ministry has been able to dissolve the “autonomous” elected Committee of the Gambia Football Association (GFA) on March 2, 2012 and faced head-on football’s world governing body’s (Fifa) threats of severe sanctions and get away with it.
But observers say the world’s Olympic sports governing body is less likely to entertain them in such fashion as Fifa.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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