Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Activities of Armed Security Officers Retards Gambian Tourism, Says Former Minister


Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) “As long as armed people are on the beaches and treating Gambians inhumanly, like hooligans, the tourism sector will not prevail, that is my own personal opinion and I believe that is what is retarding the progress of tourism here,” the former Minister of Agriculture told The Voice Newspaper in an exclusive interview on a number of issues at his home in Serrekunda last week.

Mr. Omar Jallow argued that a lot of people are making excuses that are incorrect, by attributing the reduction in the number of tourists visiting The Gambia to the economic crises, pointing out the Caribbean
Islands, Senegal, Spain and other countries are making headway in their tourism industries.

“We should revisit our tourism policy, particularly the security aspect. Europeans in particular, are afraid of guns, when they see the military patrolling the beaches, the presumption will be that there is instability in this country and when there is instability, European countries that really believe in the rule of law, democracy and the rights of people will think twice of coming here,” the Interim Leader of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) stressed.

Mr. Jallow, who is also concerned with the plight of ‘Bomsters, stressed: “how can any of our people called ‘Bomsters’ (these are people who are looking for greener pastures), some of them are good, honest,
peaceful young people. How can this tourist see them been beating on the beach,
been treated inhumane and you want that tourist to take home a good picture of
The Gambia or to come back here as a tourist.”

What is the position of Gambians who cannot work freely on the beaches, who are termed as hooligans, as vagabonds when there are armed securities on our beaches, and foreigners have more rights on our beaches than
Gambians, What is the Hotel Association doing about that? , he said
rhetorically.

“Tourism started in The Gambian since 1964 and up to 1994, there has never been one armed security on our beaches and truly up till today, we cannot reach the number of tourists that have been visiting The Gambia since
1994,” Mr. Jallow observed.

“Bar Association and CSOs Should Speak-Out”

Asked what is the way forward, the PPP Interim Leader, who is also an Executive member of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) says that it is unfortunate that in Africa, particularly in
The Gambia that the majority of the population thinks that it is only the
politicians who should standup and speak with regards to impunity, violations
and regard for the rule of law.

“We speak against impunity, we speak against the disregard for the rule of law and we speak against the violations of human rights, but all other professional organisations like the Bar Association and other civic
society organisations
should stand-up and speak against the violation of
any individual’s human rights in The Gambia,” OJ told the country’s most
independent Newspaper.

He added: “so I see no reason why we should not build-up a coalition of politicians, civic right organisations and stand-up and speak-out on what is happening in this country.” Mr. OJ, who seemed to be confused with
the country’s democratic process stressed: “I cannot understand if we called
ourselves ‘democratic’ as the government perceives itself to, how can they
arrest people and detained them for over 72 hours, when the supreme law of the
land, the constitution which the Head of State has sworn to protect and to
defend stated that is a violation of rights.”

“Is a mockery of our Independence, democracy, of human rights and of the system that is been promoted as democratic in The Gambia,” he added.

He also said: “for me I will call not only on politicians and Journalists, because Journalists have stood up and have setup to bring out violations of human rights, disrespect for the rule of law etc, I will call on
other professional organisations to come forward.”

“How can you except Judges to be dismissed, Chief Justice to be dismissed, Magistrates to be dismissed without due process, where is the Bar Association? How can you except that the President saying that he can cure
HIV/AIDS, he can cure a lot of diseases, what is the position of the Doctors
and Dental Associations in such status?” he said in multiple rhetoric.

According to him, the question is, let Gambians take the responsibility of speaking out against any unjust or violation of human rights. “That is our problem; the culture of silence has been increasing in such a
situation, which is bad for this country,” he said.

On the legal system, Jallow noted that as much as he is not a legal practitioner, he knows that when it comes to the Judiciary and Legal System, the respect for the ethics of the profession and the respect of the
hierarchy of the supreme law should be anywhere in the world.

However, he could not also understand, such things happening in The Gambia and the Bar Association, which is to protect the ethics of the profession has been quite about it.

He made reference to the Bar Association in the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stood up against the government of Abacha, whom he called the worst dictator in African history.

Mr. Jallow, who was in Nigeria on a Commonwealth Mission said, “we have also seen the Bar Association stood up against Obasanjo, when he wanted to stop his Vice President, Atiku Abubakar from running as a candidate
for the elections.

He also explained how the Bar Association in Pakistan, stood against President Musharaff when he sacked the Chief Justice. “After two years, they put so much pressure on that government and the Chief Justice is back in
office,” he said.

On the home front, he noted that Gambians are just keeping quite, ‘I think for all Gambians, we should be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we can leave in freedom than to keep quite and die as slaves
of our own protocol.’

“Learning from mistakes made in 2001, 2006 and Building Credibility”

Nonetheless, the former Minister of Agriculture will not finish this interview without talking out what he called a success story of NADD in the last by-elections and another possible alliance. “I am talking
about NADD as an example of a success story if we come together. We can come
together not in the name of NADD, but learning from the mistakes that we made
in 2001 and the mistake we made in 2006,” he said.

According to him, the opposition leaders of this country are now suppose to be more responsible, more honest, more transparent and more committed to the idea of unity, arguing that without unity, they will fail and
that will lead them to defeat.

He also noted the significance of the NADD Resolution during the by-elections. “We saw how much support we were given, but after the NADD Resolution we have seen how all parties have the reduction in there number of
people who voted for them, this is common sense,” he said.

For him, Gambians are telling the opposition directly in there actions, that if there is no credible united opposition, they are not going to vote, period. Let us bury our personal differences, our ideological
differences, or party difference and be one, and let Gambia’s interest prevail
without our personnel interest, ‘if we do that, then we are fulfilling the
mandate that is expected of us, then we can win the trust and confidence of The
Gambian people.’ Vol:2 Issn:138

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