Wednesday, October 9, 2013

OJ urges Gambia to revisit Commonwealth withdrawal

The opposition leader criticised the President Jammeh-led government for not giving clear reasons of its shock withdrawal from the body usually referred to as “the Family of Nations”.
Opposition politician Omar Jallow, alias OJ, has urged the Government of The Gambia to revisit the decision to withdraw its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. 

 “As a Gambian I am appealing to the government and it’s cabinet to revisit its withdrawal and rejoin the institution for the benefit of the entire Gambia,” the leader of the People Progressive Party (PPP) told The Voice on Saturday.

The West African country decided to pull out of the Commonwealth, an institution it described as ‘neo-colonial’ on October 2.   

"(The) Government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism,” the statement read.

Mr Jallow said the withdrawal from one of the world biggest international organizations was “shocking and disappointing” - saying “it is a bad and wrong decision”. 

“It is very sad, when all countries are now trying to join regional or international organizations Gambia is opting to isolate itself from such a very important institution,” he said.

He added: “Commonwealth serves as a platform for all (former) English colonies to interact, and its jurisdiction is even now extended to non-English colonies like Mozambique, a (former) French colony.” 

OJ said The Gambia has been a very strong and effective member of the Commonwealth and have participated in all its functions. The country enjoyed numerous benefits from the institution - ranging from judiciary strengthening, scholarships, and youth development programmes, he added.

Mr Jallow, a former Agriculture Minister, whose party was ousted by President Yahya Jammeh in a 1994 coup, said the Commonwealth has also helped to train Gambia’s security forces including the army and the police. We also enjoy cultural, social and economic benefits from this institution, he said. 

Right to know 

The opposition leader also criticised the President Jammeh-led government for not giving clear reasons of its shock withdrawal from the body also known as “the Family of Nations”. 

“Gambians have the right to know the reason behind this decision,” he stressed. “Government is a representation of the people, it (should be) for the people, by the people and accountable to the people,” he argued.   

Gambians should be informed of any major decision to be taken by the government especially decisions like this (withdrawal of Commonwealth membership), he noted. 

He said proper consultation should have been done from the level of the cabinet, the parliament and the general public - so as to listen to their opinions on the issue.

Jallow told The Voice that the government cannot just take “arbitrary decisions” without consulting the masses. It’s wrong, he argued.

 “It is the Gambian people who will suffer,” he said citing that all benefits from the body will be stopped. He said there was a need to look into the positives and negatives of leaving the Commonwealth. Source: The Voice

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