Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peaceful demonstration is right


  • PAC/PEC Not A Witch-hunting Body 

    • Jammeh sacks Minister Waa Juwara

Peaceful demonstration is right

Hon Muhamed Magassy, National Assembly Member for Basse Constituency, Upper River Region of the Gambia has backed the right to demonstrate peacefully and without arms.

He told The Voice among other things that the right to peaceful demonstration is entrenched in the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia.

His comments came more than a month after two Gambian journalists were arrested, detained and slapped with criminal charges by the police for simply applying for a police permit to demonstrate peacefully against the August 2012 execution of nine death row inmates on the orders of Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh.  

Baboucarr Ceesay, first vice president of the Gambian Press Union (GPU) and Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelance journalist who were arrested and detained on September 6, are charged with “conspiracy to commit felony, seditious publication and inciting violence.” 

Hon. Magassy cited Section 25 sub-section 1 (d) of the 1997 Constitution provides that “Every person shall have the right to freedom to assemble and demonstrate peaceably and without arms.”

He also referred to 25 sub-section 1 (a) of the 1997 Constitution which states “Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall, include freedom of the press and other media.”

Taranga Fm

Hon Magassy also stressed that the closure of Taranga FM “is a sad and very unfortunate situation” taking into account the crucial role the Sinchu-Alhagie-based  Kombo North community radio played in terms of civic awareness. 

“Taranga FM is one of the radio stations that have been updating Gambians on current issues both locally and internationally,” independent candidate said. “I hope if one media is suffering all the others should show solidarity, but to my surprise the support is not significant.”

He urges other radio stations to be broadcasting news to keep the vast uneducated Gambians informed.  
Hon Magassy also revealed to The Voice his plan to hold a consultative dialogue where the civil society, the local authorities and the public enterprises and agencies will meet to discuss all the problems hindering progress in the Basse Constituency. 

“We will then turn them (the problems) into objectives and propose possible methods and strategies and work towards addressing it,” he said. 

“This will obviously be the solution to the problems. A plan for sustainable development will also be designed,” he told The Voice.

Jammeh’s threats

During the heat of the November 2011 presidential elections, the Gambian president warn that those who vote against will be deprived of his government’s development programmes.

However, Magassy who won the ruling party’s candidate in the parliamentary polls in March 2012 described President Jammeh’s stance as a “political statement.”  

“That was just a political tool to rescue the candidates of his party,” he said. 

He said the taxpayers are the sponsors of government’s development plans and should benefit   from government’s development agenda. He said the government will now request the support of the same people (taxpayers) to do the financing of its development activities. 

He argued that hence governments are formed by the people; they should be there for the people.
The role of the government is to turn politics into policies, policies into programmes, and programmes into activities, he stressed. 

Hon. Magassy stressed that the opposition is not an enemy, but sees the world of governance differently.
“We are also struggling to serve the same Gambia in a different and desirable manner. It will be a risk to say that we do not have the interest of the Gambians at heart,” he said.

He concluded by saying that he’ll make sure the concerns of the people of his constituency are addressed. The majority (in parliament) will not deprive me from executing my duties, that I owe to my people and the country accordingly, he told The Voice.

  • PAC/PEC Not A Witch-hunting Body
The Parliamentarian for Illiassa district Hon. Lamin Kebba Jammeh has told The Voice newspaper that the joint sessions of the National Assembly select committees of the public accounts and public enterprises (PAC/PEC) is not a witch hunting body.

He said the committees, whose mandate include scrutinising the performances (activities and financial) of public enterprises, serves as a deterrent to the misappropriation of public funds.

The main function is to see whether the money given to public enterprises are spent according to budget and in line with the activities carried out by these enterprises during the year, Hon Jammeh, an accountant told The Voice in Banjul, Gambian capital on October 19, 2012. 

The PAC/PEC are statutory committees set up by a provision entrenched in the 1997 2nd Republican Constitution of The Gambia. 

The Gambia is a democratic country and the country must be seen to be democratic. One of the institutions that are mandated to make so that democracy, good governance and rule of law prevails is the National Assembly (NA), said Hon Jammeh. 

“The NA is mandated to play a part as an oversight function. We are not witch hunting any body and it is unfortunate that people see us from that angle,” he asserted.

He explained that when public enterprises appear before the PAC/PEC committees, the head of the relevant institutions are asked to explain, which is a duty bound to every Gambian and a fulfilment of the public’s right to know how their monies are been used.

According to him, since the inception of the committees seven (7) years ago, there have been significant improvements in the management of public funds by heads of public institutions. 

He claimed not a lot of countries are doing the same as the Gambia regarding the scrutiny of public entities. He explained that this scrutiny began with the central government bodies such as the ministry of finance, the national audit office (NAO) and the central government’s main account (the consolidated fund). 

This, according to Hon. Jammeh, is meant to ensure the proper management of public funds.


Hon Jammeh claimed the committees’ registered significant improvement on the management of taxpayers’ money. “The Gambia government’s account was having some deadlock of auditing but as at now all the government accounts are audited and sent to the NA for scrutiny,” he said.

He said the NAO is done with the auditing of Gambia government account from 2005 to 2010. The Government’s accounts are now been updated and the government is now very accountable on how it spend public funds, he claims.

He said in the past, public institutions failed to honour their duty of submitting their audited financial and activities reports to the national assembly, now that’s a things of the past. Public enterprises are very much mindful and judicious in the manner they manage and spend public funds.


The recommendations made by the PAC/PEC at the close of its session are forwarded to the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh for onward advice. Public institutions that appear before the committees are obliged to implement the recommendations, explains Hon Jammeh, who our parliamentary correspondent say is the youngest in the unicameral legislature of 52.
Lots of recommendations have been forwarded to the executive since the inception of the PAC/PEC, he revealed.
He admitted there were so many weaknesses in the financial management and performance of public enterprises before but significant improvements has been recorded presently.
In his view, the Gambia is moving on the right direction went it comes to good governance. PAC/PEC is one of the key pillars of good governance and democracy, he claimed.

  • Jammeh sacks Minister Waa Juwara 

A Presidency statement on Monday confirmed President Yahya Jammeh’s sacking of Mr. Lamin Waa Juwara, Minister of Regional Administration, Lands and Traditional Rulers.

The October 22 statement said the removal of Mr. Juwara takes immediate effect. 

Juwara, a long time opposition strong-man and one time fierce critic of the Gambian leader, joined the APRC led government in 2009 as a governor, while heading NDAM, the National Democratic Action Movement. 

He was appointed Minister in February 2012.

“The general public is hereby informed that His Excellency The President of the Republic of The Gambia Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A J J Jammeh, acting under the provisions of Section 71 (4) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, has decided to relieve Mr Lamin Waa Juwara of his appointment as Minister of Regional Administration, Lands and Traditional Rulers with immediate effect,” the president’s office announced on Monday. 


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