Saturday, September 27, 2014

BREAKING - Gambian President claims to have cure for the Ebola virus

Fresh from his New York trip to attend the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations, Yaya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia took to national radio and television in the Gambian capital to claim that the herbs that he use to 'cure' HIV/AIDS can also cure the Ebola virus.

He claimed to have disclosed the potential of his herbal cures to the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, whose country is ravaged by the disease and who was recently the recipient of a $ 500,000 donation from the idiosyncratic Gambian dictator.

According to WHO, the disease in Sierra Leone "continues to deteriorate" blaming the sharp increase in the number of new cases in the capital city of Freetown.

The international community must be worried, especially at a time when the outbreak of the Ebola virus seems to be out of control in the three countries most affected i.e. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The advances of the virus highlighted at the just concluded General Assembly of the United Nations, is expected to kill  more people in the affected countries threatening but both live and the economies in the region.  Already the disease is negatively impacting agricultural production and food prices.

Yaya Jammeh's mental state has always been a subject of discussion behind closed doors.  With this preposterous announcement, it is probably time for the mental and psychological state of the Gambian dictator be questioned openly.

Meanwhile, every effort must be made to ensure that Jammeh will not interfere in any way, shape or form with the international effort led by the United States and the Center for Communicable Disease (CDC), an effort characterized by the American president as the "largest international response in the history of the CDC."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Photo editorial : Jammeh's United Nations sojourn

New York Police
White van with Jammeh and Zeinab's expensive shopping spree loot
Ous Mbenga, Falai Baldeh and Coach-Pa Samba Jow

IOC rebuffs the Jammeh regime

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has just issued a press release on the outcome of its meeting with members of the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) and officials of the APRC regime the purpose of which was, in the words of the IOC,  to discuss "the regrettable situation faced by GNOC since April 2014, when the GNOC office was closed by government decision. 

The IOC press release further noted that despite several requests to the highest authorities in The Gambia, the GNOC offices remain closed preventing the Committee from functioning normally. 

After both sides had the opportunity to present their respective cases, the IOC confirmed, once more, the results of the elections which took place more than a year ago, and that they were in "accordance the Olympic Charter, the GNOC Constitution and all IOC directives."  All the executive of GNOC are recognized as the legitimate representatives in the eyes of the IOC. 

The release concludes thus:  The IOC, GNOC and the government delegation came to the conclusion that the current situation has dragged on for far too long and thus no longer tenable and must be resolved in the following manner.

Given the current stalemate, the IOC is requesting the following actions to take place.
1.  The GNOC offices and properties must be returned to them 
2.  Any "travel ban" issued against GNOC must be lifted and cancelled
3. The new Sports bill being drafted must be compatible with the principles of the Olympic Movement
4.  Commitment to build harmonious relationship between government and the Olympic Movement 

This vexing case is to be reviewed at the next IOC Executive Board in October, and "appropriate decisions will be taken depending on the progress made." 

GAMBIA: Yankuba Colley calls for beheading of gays

Yankuba Colley
Yankuba Colley, the National Mobilizer of Gambia's ruling party has called for the systematic killing of gays and lesbians which, according to him, "homosexuality is a crime against nature" and those who are gay are "enemies of humanity."

The national mobilizer of the ruling party is the third member of the Jammeh regime to call for murder and assassination of Gambians either because the regime does approve of one's lifestyle or because you are opposed to the regimes policies.

The call to behead gays and lesbians was first made by Jammeh in 2008 when he threatened to expel gays and lesbians from The Gambia or face the ultimate punishment.

Yankuba Colley, the Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council and mobilizer of the ruling party, has stepped into the anti-gay debate by advocating death, murder, assassination of gays and lesbians.
Dr. Baba Ceesay

In June, a similar call was made by a radical Muslim cleric who called for the execution of opponents of the regime.  Targeted killings of this sort are permissible under sharia law.

The national mobilizer of the ruling party was reacting to the recently passed anti-gay bill by the National Assembly that defines "aggravated homosexuality" as someone entering into a gay relationship with another under the age of 18 or an HIV infected individual entering a gay relationship.  The criminal code will reflect it as a crime punishable up to life imprisonment.

The national mobilizer made the gory statements in an interview with The Standard, a local newspaper.  The call for violence against Gambians whose lifestyle happens to be different, but still protected under the constitution is going unabated and may be officially-sanctioned.  Yankuba Colley is a high ranking member of the regime whose statements are usually reflectively of the regime's thinking.

A worrying trend in The Gambia is the islamization of an otherwise secular state which Jammeh is actively supporting using surrogates to back his argument that sharia law in an integral part of the daily lives of Gambians because the majority are Muslims, therefore the citizens should accept the live under it.  In advancing his warped argument, he conveniently omits the fact that there is a substantial number of Christians and other non-Muslim faiths who call themselves Gambians.

Mr. Colley's reaction was apparently provoked by the international outcry and the volume of petitions that have being streaming into State House from Amnesty International, U.S. Embassy and numerous NGOs across the globe urging Yaya Jammeh not to sign the bill that was passed by the National Assembly.  The bill which is presently on his desk must be signed by Monday 29th September for it to become law.

The religious and political extremism has been on the rise with the increasing awareness of the general population of the failure of the regime to uplift them from the poverty and destitution that have resulted after twenty years of dictatorship.  Unemployment has been on the rise, especially youth unemployment which is now hovering over 70%.

Yaya Jammeh is expected to return to Banjul over the weekend.  All eyes will be on him to see if the signs the bill into law.  He made no reference to the pending bill in his United Nations speech.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Note to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta

Prime Minister Muscat of Malta

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the 80 Gambian migrants your government is planning to repatriate to The Gambia where they will meet an uncertain future.

We understand and appreciate the economic and social arguments advanced by some European countries, particularly countries like Malta, that are in the front lines of this human wave fleeing their badly-managed countries for a variety of reasons, some of which may be purely for economic reasons.

But Mr. Prime Minister, not all migrants are economic migrants.  Even if all were of this category, an argument can still be made for them to be granted a protected status against dictators who do not only violate human rights but they violate the economic rights of their respective citizenry to live a life in dignity.

How can they live in dignity when most of them, including the 80 Gambians, of course, live on less than a dollar-a-day, when regimes like the one in Banjul, has dominated every sector of the economy, stifling economic growth and development.

The government of Yaya Jammeh has failed to provide the necessary economic and political environment for both the young and old to stay in that God-forsaken land that once held the promise of advancing democracy and the rule of law.

The exemplary record of Gambia's record on human rights has been so turned on its head that it has become an embarrassment to the African Union to still maintains its African Commission on Human and peoples Rights in Banjul.

Amnesty International and similar international and regional Rights organizations have all graded Gambia's record poorly because of the regimes frequent use of assassinations, torture, imprisonment, disappearances and other inhumane treatment of both its real and imagined opponents.

Given the above, repatriating these young men to The Gambia means that some (maybe not all) will meet their certain deaths for being framed as opposition sympathizers.  Others will languish in jail for 'tarnishing the image of the regime' by voting with their feet.

We hope our concerns will cause your government to pause and change course.  We urge you, therefore, to nullify the agreement as soon as it is feasible and allow the 80 Gambians to stay in Malta or find a third country willing to take them in on humanitarian grounds.


Sidi Sanneh
for: sidisanneh,    

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Malta and Gambia signing the death warrants of 80 Gambians at the margins of the General Assembly

Finance Minister Touray and Maltese Foreign Minister 
The Gambia and Malta today signed at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly an agreement to repatriate some 80 Gambian migrants which is equivalent to the signing of their death warrants.

"Currently in Malta, there are around 80 persons from Gambia who were not awarded the asylum status," the government said.

Curiously, the Maltese government did not say how many Gambian migrants were granted asylum.  The number is probably embarrassingly small.

In signing this disgraceful protocol, The Maltese government claimed that the human rights of these Gambians were not being violated in repatriating them to a country that has been universally acclaimed of having one of the worst record in the world.

Malta is not signing a repatriation agreement but a death warrant for those 80 Gambians who will first be transported to Gambia's notorious Mile II prisons were they'll succumb to the effects of torture or malaria.  

Malta is not alone is engaging in the doling out cash to a corrupt regime in exchange for the repatriation of Gambian migrants, most of whom are victims of a repressive regime who are fleeing The Gambia because of a bad governance environment.

Spain is another European country that has a similar cash-for-migrant arrangement with the Jammeh regime, with the cash going into the dictator's pocket.

While The Gambia was busy exploiting the plight of 80 Gambians who are victims of a bad set of economic and human rights policies that the corrupt regime created, the Ghana delegation in New York were engaging the same Maltese government at the margins on matters of economic substance.

Ghana president Mahama and the Maltese Prime Minister recognizing the synergy in their respective energy sectors, discussed Ghana's potential as an energy hub in West Africa with a reciprocal designation of Malta as energy hub in the Mediterranean.  

This is no time for celebration, Gambia

The Liberian who died of the virus in Nigeria

The Point newspaper is reporting that the Gambian dictator is planning on celebrate the 22nd July 1994 coup d'etat next month.

This is coming on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly meeting that will focus on the Ebola outbreak which the UN Secretary General described this morning as an "exponential crisis that requires an exceptional global response."

The Security Council of the United Nations last week declared that the spread of the deadly disease is a threat to international peace and security.  In the midst of the frantic international calls for responsible actions by both 'big and small' as well as those countries affected and unaffected, to see the Gambian dictator declaring his plans to celebrate his twenty-year old coup is deplorable and should be condemned.

The announcement is also coming on the heels of a recently concluded mission of the IMF that warned the regime of Yaya Jammeh that "spending pressures have reemerged" caused by the financial difficulties of the public utility (NAWEC) as well as some other spending excesses in the budget.

The IMF Mission noted that although "The Gambia remains Ebola-free,... news from the sub-region appear to be deterring tourists and this will open an additional challenge."  While the challenges facing the regime compound, Jammeh and his regime are busy organizing a celebration that will probably last a week or more, involving all sectors of a community that will be vulnerable.  It is irresponsible of the regime to continue to pretend that The Gambia is immune to the outbreak.

The celebration of an illegal usurpation of political power that has resulted in the horror that is The Gambia, is misplaced and should, therefore, be cancelled.  The country cannot afford it financially and from the point of view of exposing thousands of Gambians to the risks.  We agree with the Secretary General of the United Nations: the spread of the deadly virus is an exponential crisis that requires an exceptional global response from big as well as small countries.  The Gambia is no exception.    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jammeh orders barricades at the Ritz-Carlton

Barricades ordered by Jammeh 
The Gambian dictator who's built his reputation as the biggest  human rights abuser, including his dislike of gays and lesbians is presently in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Last year, attending a similar meeting, Gambian dissidents protested in front of his hotel that effectively blocked the entrance which prevented him from attending most of his meetings.

To avoid a repeat of last year's humiliation of his delegation, Yaya Jammeh and his entourage ordered the barricades, pictured here, to prevent protesters from gaining access to the hotel.

Of the 140 Heads of State and Governments in attendance this year, Yaya Jammeh is the only known leader who has barricades around his hotel to protect him against his own people.  The barricades, we are told, were specifically requested by Jammeh and his entourage.

We have also been informed that the gay and lesbian communities of America will show solidarity with the Gambian protesters by joining them on the protest lines against a dictator.  The gays and lesbian communities in America have noted Jammeh's vitriolic and hate-filled speeches against them.

This year's United Nation's agenda is very crowded with meetings and consultations because of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  But on the agenda is also the vexingly problem of an Ebola epidemic that it still spreading in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia uncontrollably.  Whether Jammeh will attend the Ebola meeting, scheduled for Thursday, is yet to be seen.

Wednesday will be the debate on ISIS, its threat and a coalition-building time for President Obama who will have to twist few more arms to join an already-reluctant Arab States to join the aerial bombing campaign which has just underway.

Jammeh is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Friday, his first since he broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.  Whether he will make any reference to the break-up or he will decide to fill the gap with a longer version of his praise of Fidel Castro, now that he has one less friend to praise in exchange for financial assistance.

In the coming days, we will be keeping you abreast of developments in New York, the Gambian protesters and Jammeh's activities around the General Assembly.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The United Nations protests will not be derailed

United Nations Building
Sidi Sanneh 
The carefully-crafted display of acrimonious bickering on radio is just one more reminder that "The Struggle" still has, and will continue to have, its share of knuckleheads who will go to anything length for attention and self aggrandizement. 

We've seen this movie before, especially on the eve of every protest march.  Remember the so-called 'spy lady' from Atlanta during the Washington protests who was accused of 'breaching the inner sanctum of The Struggles intelligence super structure?  She turned out to be a woman with serious personal issues and challenges.

On the eve of the New York protest, the straw men are CORDEG, a government-in-exile and about a member of the planning committee of the New York contingent.  The role of CORDEG and the formation of a government-in-exile are not germane to the occasion which is simply to assemble and demonstrate against a vicious dictatorship at home.  

So those who've noticed the trend, and are rightly treating yesterday's display as yet another silly season's sinister prank, have opted to continue to focus their individual and/or collective energies in chalking up gains, however small, while leaving the whiners to do what they do best, whine. The grown-ups will continue to make full account of themselves while realizing this is not in sprint race but a marathon where strategy and the art of energy conservation are two of the most prized commodities.  Let the bloviators bloviate.  The rest have better things to do.    

For example, the Raleigh folks are ready and so are the DC folks to make a significant showing.  The folks in Atlanta will not be outdone. The host, New York folks, will, no doubt, step up to the occasion.  No one should be distracted from the immediate task at hand.  You will notice that once it has been successfully disposed of, victory laps will be performed not by those who did the heavy lifting but by those who spewed the hottest air.

On an equally positive note, we've learned from authoritative sources that those taking part in this year's UN protest will be larger in number than previous ones because The Gambians will be joined by Sierra Leonean and Congolese protesters.  If success is based on numbers alone, there's every indication that victory is already to those Gambians and other other Africans who plan to protest in New York this weekend.

However, because of last year's humiliating treatment of the Gambian dictator by dissidents, security around the United Nations venue and the hotels occupied by Jammeh and other presidents will be extremely tight.  

As a result, protesters will find maneuvering one's way around the extra barricades that are strategically positioned to be a very challenging exercise.  Good luck to protesters from the New York, Washington DC, Providence, Wilmington, Hartford, Boston and Atlanta areas.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jammeh disappointed with outcome of Scottish referendum

Union Jack and Scottish flag
News coming from one of the tiniest of British colonial outposts called The Gambia that became independent from Britain almost fifty years ago is that the country's dictator that decreed to be referred by his full name and title of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jamus Junkung Jammeh Nasiru Deen, Babili Mansa.  'Nasiru Deen' means guardian of the Muslim faith and 'Babili Mansa' is bridge builder.

The idiosyncratic dictator of the smallest country in Africa, apart from being famous for claiming to have discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS, is also famous for his incessantly false claims that after 400 years under British colonialism, Gambia has only one high school and one hospital to show for it, none of which is, of course, true.

The 1783 Peace of Paris gave The Gambia to Britain and there were two main referral hospitals and numerous health centers scattered across the Gambia.

The Scottish independence referendum revealed that Jammeh's problem was with England and not the United Kingdom because he was not only rooting for Alex Salmond and his Nationalists to win the referendum but reports have it that a congratulatory note had already been drafted ready for release once the announcement was made.

Evidently, Jammeh had learned a lesson from his famous 2000 letter to George W. Bush on election night when Florida election officials were busy counting chads and dimple chads.  We all remember that the world had to wait from November 8th to December 12th 2000 before the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Bush won over Gore for the presidency.

The fact that Scotland failed to leave the Union deprived Jammeh a certain schadenfreude amidst the turmoil of the past few days leading to the referendum.  A close source is revealing that tomorrow, Monday September 22nd was to have been declared a public holiday in The Gambia in celebration of what Jammeh thought was a victory by the Scottish Nationalists over his arch-enemy, England.  It goes without saying that Monday will be a normal working day.  The public holiday was not the only casualty.

Jammeh's United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) speech also required some adjustments to remove the section that would have cited Scotland as one more example of the exploitative nature of English colonialism.

The Gambian dictator annual pilgrimage to the UNGA is always a highwater mark for Gambian dissident groups, gay and human rights activists because of its highly inflammatory and bigoted content which has led the United States UN Ambassador to take to twitter admonishing Jammeh for his "hate speech" against gays and lesbians.  It is also a speech that is almost always full of praise for Taiwan and also advances the cause of the country to be admitted to the World Health Organization as a necessary first step towards ending the island's diplomatic isolation.

A source in Banjul is suggesting that special attention be paid to this year's speech because this would be the first speech in twenty years that Taiwan is not a diplomatic partner of The Gambia which, it is expected, the speech will ignore completely.  The same source made a very fine and important point which will have a bearing on both the quality and scope of Jammeh's speech this year.

During the Jawara era, speeches of this nature is the collective effort of key ministries with the Secretary General's or Office of the President acting as a clearinghouse.  With Jammeh, it is Secretary General who is the drafter of the speech, but this time around it is being reported that Njogu Bah, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry will be in charge of the speech.

The challenge facing the new speechwriter, according to our source is "how much will be devoted to gays etc. now that Taiwan is no longer on their cards."  Njogu Bah, according to the same source, " has been chosen to be the fall guy in case it (the speech) doesn't go down well."

Gay-bashing by Yaya Jammeh goes down well alongside his anti-British and anti-American tirades which are designed to curry favors from the Gulf States now that he has withdrawn The Gambia from her almost half a century of being an integral part of the Commonwealth.  He, also, abruptly broke a 20-year relationship with Taiwan that was cordial all throughout until the day in November 2013.  

This year's UN General Assembly speech will be closely monitored to see whether the Gambian dictator will heed the pleas of Amnesty International and other human rights organization not to sign the recently passed bill by the Gambian parliament into law that imposes life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality", a bill that many rights organizations consider to be nothing more than a "state-sponsored homophobia."


Friday, September 19, 2014

Why is unity still eluding the Gambian opposition

Unity among the Gambian opposition is as elusive as it is frustrating to supporters of the political parties generally considered the opposition.  Why is this the case, especially when they number three to four that are functionally operational, the biggest of which represents between 80-70% of the total number of opposition votes cast in any presidential election.

Compared to any of its regional neighbors, and everything else being equal, it should follow that the challenges facing the opposition in uniting against the ruling party should be less difficult than Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Liberia to name but a few.   There are more registered political parties in any of these countries than in The Gambia, and not by a small margins either.

In any one of these countries the number of registered parties are anywhere between five fold to over ten fold more than in The Gambia.  And in all of these countries, opposition parties uniting against the ruling party or the leading vote getter in the first round of elections have almost always been assured a win.  The party that leads the opposition, in every case has been the one with the second highest votes.

It is universally accepted norm and/or process governing a multi-party environment that is conspicuously absent in the Gambian electoral system which is a first-past-the-post rather than the more democratically acceptable system of 50+1.

The ruling A(F)PRC was never confident of its popularity among Gambian voters which led it to the change thus eliminating a run-off phase.  The opposition cried foul for a week or so and then proceeded to contest subsequent elections as if nothing has happened.

Gambian politics seemed to have regressed with time.  Although politics has also become more tribal with Jammeh - at least he's tried to make it all about tribe - he has not succeeded it transforming Gambian society into a tribal community.  In short, we have not become a society where once tribal affiliation determines your fate and success in society, although his Jola tribe has benefited appreciably, both in terms of social and economic/financial standing in society, than at anytime in Gambian history.

With the regression, comes deep rooted sectionalism that can be traced to the Jawara regime. To add the new privileged class created under the A(F)PRC regime, the cleavages became more pronounced.  The new political class, protective of its new-found status leaves little doubt to the rest of society as who is in charge, at least, politically, but flouting the power vested in them by the dictatorship.  The mix of old and new adds to the complexity of the new Gambian society which is reflected in the new political order.

The move by the AFPRC government to ban all political parties except the PDOIS was obviously a deliberate act designed to give the party advantage over any subsequent parties than the regime will allow to be formed.  Since it was certain than the elements of the PPP, from whom power was seized, will try to regroup as a party or join any opposition party other than PDOIS (given the ideological differences than existed between them) Jammeh and his military council  were certain the rivalry between the two will be carried over to post-1996 and beyond.

The soldiers got it right, and more.  Rightly or wrongly, PDOIS sees PPP in UDP and the suspicions and lack of trust that existed between the old rivals has now been transformed into a PDOIS and UDP rivalry. Of course, both parties will deny it but, we, Gambians, know better.

The intense rivalry between the opposition fits in well with the current first-past-the-post electoral system designed to eliminate the need for a second round which would have forced opposition to coalesce around the second highest vote getter or vote for the ruling APRC.

Jammeh and his political operatives also knew that without the 50+1 system, they were depriving the opposition of the surest tool available to extract unity by forcing the opposition, even if they despise each other, politically, because it is inherent in the system. The opposition would have been left with two options :  refuse to go to the polls to get rid of the APRC or to vote for the party representing the one with the second highest votes i.e the united opposition.  We think the answer is clear.

In trying to find out why unity among the opposition parties is elusive, we may have been making the case also for electoral reform that should seek to restore the 50+1 - a system that will force the opposition to unite, a feat they've been unable to achieve in two decades.  All of our neighbors have the system that allows a run-off in the event that no one party enjoys the plurality of the electorate.  Why should we allow ourselves to be the exception?  Why?    


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unsung heroes of the Gambian business community

It has always been our desire to acknowledge the yeoman's work being performed by individual Gambian and non-Gambian businessmen and women under the most unfriendly business environment ever.   No matter how terrible a regime is, there will always be those who remain for assortment of reasons which can range from seeing themselves as being patriotic to simply lacking in viable options.  Whatever the reason for staying, we salute you.

Being practitioners and promoters of the private sector, we cannot but appreciate the critical role that these special breed of Gambians and non-Gambians play in keep the entire edifice from collapsing.

There's a second category of these unsung heroes who are of the professional class, namely very young and inexperienced men and women who are in the lower echelon of the civil service, keeping their heads down and their noses on the grind and staying out of the limelight to gain experience.  We hear you too.

In the absence of seasoned civil servants to train these young Gambians, it is doubtful whether the value of the experience gained is worth the risks of working for a regime that jails and dismisses civil servants at will. All the same, they are prepared to take the risks.  Unfortunately some make is unscathed but many to our chagrin end up being maliciously maligned and their resumes permanently tainted in the most unfair and unjust ways.  

The belated acknowledgment of these special breed of Gambians, and their valuable contributions in keeping what's left of the ship of state, is because it is no fun to show appreciation without naming names for fear of retribution by an intolerant regime.

We salute you, the unsung heroes for the tremendous display of gusto of staying put and operating your businesses under the most difficult of circumstances.  In providing the goods and services to the citizenry, you are also creating jobs, however limited, given the current inappropriate policies, for Gambians.  Without the decision to stay, the situation could have been much worse.  If you see yourself in this blog, it is meant for you.  Thanks.        

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Disqualification of Kebbeh and Kinteh is unconstitutional says Danso and Bojang

Omar Danso and Buba Mbye Bojang
Omar Danso and Buba Mbye Bojang, two candidates approved by the so-called Normalization Committee to run as candidates for the presidency of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) called the disqualification of Mustapha Kebbeh and Seedy Kinteh as "unconstitutional".

They also accused the Normalization Committee of character assassination of the two former presidents of the GFF.  They described the decision as "well calculated" and a deliberate attempt to discredit the two in time to clear the field of all potential candidate that would deny the regime-chosen candidate the presidency.

The allegations, which will certainly reach FIFA, were made at a joint news conference called by Messrs. Danso and Bojang to air their concern about the decision.  They warned about the slippery slope that the NC seems to be on by saying "for now, it is Kebbeh and Seedy, who knows who will be next?"

The two are convinced that the NC's action is an infringement of the constitution, and they proceeded to question whether indeed FIFA did approve the move as claimed by the NC.

The FIFA letter of 24th July 2014, according to Omar Danso and Buba Mbye Bojang, made clear from the stipulated requirements that both Mustapha Kebbeh and Seedy Bojang had qualified to run for the position.

The relevant GFF statute states that a candidate be " no younger than 30 years old, already have been active in football in the last five years; not have been convicted of felony; and be a Gambian and resident in The Gambia."

As far as the records indicate, Lamin Kaba Bajo has not been active in football in the last five years.  In fact, he has not been active in football in the last decade or two when he was busy moving from one ministerial and ambassadorial posts to the next to have time for anything else, much more football.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gulf secures $19 billion in West African Projects : Where's The Gambia

The AP is reporting today from Dubai that eight West African countries, almost all Francophone, agreed Tuesday to $19 billion worth of infrastructure deals with the lion's share going toward a massive road and railway project.

The countries that will benefit are all of the CFA Franc zone countries i.e. Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo and Guinea-Bissau.

The fact that The Gambia is conspicuously absent from this massive investment program despite recent diplomatic shift in emphasis by the Jammeh regime to the Gulf speaks volumes about the country's image within the West African region and around the world.

The fact that the investment package excludes non-Francophone countries, most of whom have seen sizable though separate investment packages, is not an excuse for excluding The Gambia from such massive injection of investment capital in a program that includes Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.

Precedence have been set by the same CFA-zone countries in a little known but similar program with India which was dubbed Team 9, representing the same countries but The Gambia was included.  The tractors and other Mahindra products that Jammeh distributes frequently as gifts from him to Gambian farmers came from the Team-9 investment program.  The TATA bus assembly plant in Senegal was part of the same program.

It appears that all the diplomatic posts that the regime have opened throughout the Gulf are not bringing in any returns on investment, and as one of my sources quipped "I thought we had a very proactive foreign policy" and he added sarcastically that "we are obviously waiting on the second or third round of the project."

A total of 16 agreements have been signed at the investment forum including a $700 million dry-port development project in Cote d'Ivoire.  The huge potential for growth and expansion is what is driving Gulf States investors in a region that is politically unstable but who are nonetheless taking a long-term view.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bad policies = "The Back Way"

Interior Minister Sonko
Boat full of economic/political migrants
Ousman Sonko, Gambia's Interior Minister, looked to the Mullahs at the government-sponsored Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), led by Imam Momodou Lamin Touray, for some form of divine intervention to help reverse the migration of Gambian youth.

He reasoned for engaging the SIC in this way is "since human beings listen to three categories of people : those in government, religious and traditional leaders".  He was addressing members of a non-governmental, non-religious and non-traditional civil group that calls itself "Operation No Back Way to Europe" about the perils of venturing across the Mediterranean in small boats.

According to the minister, parents are encouraging the youth to migrate, implying that left to their own devices, they'd stay at home.  Parents are driven by the prospects of receiving remittances from their children once they reach their European destinations.  This view does not seem to be supported by reports filed and interviews conducted by news agencies along the route through Burkina Faso, Niger to Libya.

Gambian journalists who interviewed Gambian youth in fish markets in Bakau and other locations also paint a picture different from the minister's assertions.  The youth's main complaint is that there are  no employment opportunities in The Gambia. They are in the markets selling fish so that they can gain enough to make the trip through the Back Way, as the treacherous route is known locally.

A reporter from a publication called "Front Page International interviewed a 27 year old Banjul city driver named Bakary Sanyang whose views closely represents of those scrambling to leave by the Back Way when he revealed that his D5,000 or $125.00 per month "can't keep him in The Gambia".   He continued, "I will go to Europe because in The Gambia everything is expensive.  It is difficult for a family man to survive."  He noted that there are no jobs, and if jobs are available they do not pay a living wage.

All available official data about youth unemployment supports Bakary Sanyang's view.  The job-creating capability of the economy has been significantly reduced because of hostile business environment created by the regime that is not conducive for business to thrive.  As a result,  investors have been fleeing to neighboring countries that provide friendlier atmosphere.  Members of the security forces and of the revenue generating agencies have been known to harass businessmen and women  to the point of extortion.  Taxes are high and that goes for the badly-conceived and badly-implimented VAT have contributed, in no small measure, to the current hostile business environment.

If the economy was creating jobs at a reasonable rate, most of the youth would have stayed, even under the deplorable human rights conditions as long they'd stay out of politics.  But as long as the youth jobless rate continues to hover around 70%, they will continue to vote with their feet in order to escape the harsh reality of poverty - a condition brought about as a result of a combination of bad economic policies, high level corruption and incompetence at every level of government.

Instead of appealing to the Mullahs like Imams Touray and Fatty for divine help, the regime should look at its combined macro-economic policies.  The regime must also increase significantly the level of investment in the Gambian youth.   There's more lip service paid in a very deceptive and condescending way that the regime cares to admit.

Though hard to stomach, the Gambian youth have finally realized that they were being duped all along by Jammeh who promised them jobs in exchange for their votes.  The kids kept their side of the bargain by voting for the regime for the past twenty years.  Unfortunately, Jammeh and his regime failed to keep their side of the bargain which was a promise to make life better for the youth.            

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gambia's indentured (civil) servants

Last week, the Gambian dictator launched an appealed to his subjects to come and help him stamp out invading weeds that threatened his crops at his village farms.

The following weekend, four thousand "volunteers" led by the newly-minted Secretary General of the Civil Service, Head of the Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, that includes members of the security forces, cabinet ministers, civil servants of different assortments and hue, youth brigades and women, to list just a few of the categories of humanity who showed up at Yaya Jammeh's village farm.

The call of these modern day indentured servants by the Gambian dictator to work as "volunteers" is anything but voluntary service.  Anyone who dares ignore the call without being officially excused will be sanctioned by jailing or dismissal.   People have been dismissed and/or jailed for not showing up.  Therefore, if you want to keep your job, it is obligatory to "volunteer" your weekend at one of numerous farms of the dictator tat are spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Farmers who are faced with serious challenges this season because of late rains and farm inputs that are either scarce or beyond the reach of the ability to buy, like fertilizer, are being coerced, implicitly, to abandon their farms for the dictators.   Failing to "volunteer" can mean the difference between being in the good books of the regime or being ostracized as an "enemy of Jammeh and his ruling party".

Senior members of the government frequently abandon their official duties to work of the dictator's farms at the expense of the general welfare of ordinary Gambians.  It is not that these officials do not know that what they are engaged in is wrong; they do know.  Some are even embarrassed by it because, as civil servants, they are not to engage in partisan politics.  Is an apolitical service designed to serve the government of the day.  

But when the Head of the Civil Service is engaged is such blatantly partisan endeavor, not to speak of the humiliation, it is not only a dishonorable thing to do, it lowers the dignity of the office to an unacceptable level.  And for a Civil Service of such respectable and enviable past, it is a shame to see civil servants allowing themselves to be misused in this humiliating manner.

These officials, who are nothing more than indentured civil servants, are quick to let the rest of the world know that they are not toiling under the sun for Yaya Jammeh but they are doing it for themselves.  But then the question that immediately comes to mind if they are not doing it to save their jobs (and their necks in the process), why aren't they out weeding their own farms.

It is not that Jammeh's farms are communally-owned (yet, they are communally-farmed), the proceeds of which goes in his pockets and so-called foundations, the farms have deprived rural communities of farmlands that were once farmed by rural communities.  Farm labor is also being diverted from rural communities to a purely private venture of the dictator.  It goes without saying that Jammeh's farm is both exploitative and dehumanizing, using the civil service as a source of indentured labor for his private profit-making venture.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Daily Observer help embellish Kaba Bajo's resume

Mustapha Kebbeh        Star Jammeh 
In a deliberately calibrated attempt at denying the obvious, The Daily Observer (DO) issued a clumsily-worded editorial (that many of us missed somehow), dated 2nd September 2014, in which the paper's editors tried to absolve themselves of blame in the "Lamin Kaba Bajo to President" propaganda campaign by blaming everyone else but themselves.

In it's August 28th online edition, the DO tried, in the most brazen of fashion, to redefine the word "intimate" to mean "allege" in their desperate attempt to wiggle out of their claim that Bombada and Brikama United were among the clubs nominating or supporting the nomination of Lamin Kaba Bajo.

If we are to accept DO's definition,  it would make little sense for the source who is closely acquainted (which is the meaning of intimate) with issue at hand to have "alleged" that Lamin Kaba Bajo was VP of Bombada FC and that bothe Bombada and Brikama United were supporting his candidature.  Someone closely acquainted with Brikama football and its officials would have spoken with DO with a bit more authority.  But it doesn't matter to DO who has already received its matching orders from "the top" to promote the candidature of the APRC regime.

The paper took issue with the fact that Bombada FC saw fit to dispute DO's spurious claim that the club was supporting the candidature of Kaba Bajo when Bombada's "unconditional" support of Mustapha Kebbeh's candidature for the presidency of Gambia Football Federation (GFF).

DO also took issue with Bombada's view that the position of their club was "grossly misrepresented" by the paper which is to be expected from an official mouthpiece of a regime that would like to meddle further in the Game by injecting APRC (political) party apparatchik disguised as football experts.

In what appeared to be the paper's last stance was when it was told in a letter from Bombada FC that Kaba Bajo was never a vice president at the club, in accepting it as fact, DO retorted, yes, "but we stand by the credibility of our source"; the same source that also lied about the two Brikama-based clubs supporting the candidature of Lamin Kaba Bajo.  The Daily Observer has refined the art of obfuscation and deceit to an enviable level, if you ask us.

The ensuing avalanche of criticism that descended on them as a result of the propaganda piece was to be expected.  There are many football lovers who are afraid to voice their opinions publicly for fear of being sent to jail.  After all, almost all of the candidates and GFF officials have been jailed, except Lamin Baka Bajo.  Although DO is claiming that their editorial was prompted by Bombada's letter and not by social media debates or online publications, the blow-back was nonetheless furious in coming, and at a lightening speed.

Gambians will not be fooled and neither will the patrons and lovers of football who care about its development and advancement by the obvious power grab by the APRC.  DO is an integral part of that power grab, being the propaganda and official mouthpiece of the Jammeh regime.  And as part of the campaign machine, the paper was caught embellishing Lamin Kaba Bajo's resume by concocting a story it knew was untrue from the start.  Consequently, the paper should admit it, apologize and move on to their next propaganda piece.

Kaba Bajo may be good at other things, but neither football nor its management is one of them. He should stick to what he does best i.e. continue to be a party apparatchik of a regime that has mismanaged the economy and are how hellbent of mismanaging football.  After all, he has been with the regime since he joined the U.S Navy boat that took Sir Dawda and others to Dakar in July 1994 only to return to be part of the A(F)PRC regime.

FIFA, we hope, will put an end to this circus-like atmosphere once and for all.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lamin Kaba Bajo is unqualified to head GFF

Sports Minister Jammeh 
Lamin Kaba Bajo 
The so-called Normalization Committee, under the thumb of the Minister of Sports has tipped the scales in favor of Lamin Kaba Bajo, a former Sports Minister himself, as the next president of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) by disqualifying Mustapha Kebbeh and Seedy Kinteh.  Both have previously held the presidency of GFF.

The disqualification of the two officials is a deliberate, arbitrary and capricious act which should be rescinded.  A protest note has been filed with FIFA to this effect.  

The Minister of Sports, using government-dominated members of the Sports Council, has not only decimated Gambia's sports administrative infrastructure but he has succeeded in demoralizing many of those who made Gambian football what it used to be until the dictatorship started meddling into sports.

In disqualifying Messrs. Kebbeh and Kinteh, the Normalization Committee claimed that they had the full endorsement of FIFA, a claim that is highly suspect because there is no basis for the elimination of Mustapha Kebbeh from the list of candidates for the position.

Lamin Kaba Bajo is unqualified to run Gambian football because he has no idea about the game. He has never been a footballer nor officiated the game, or even a keen observer of the game.

More seriously, Mr. Kaba Bajo has twice lied on his application by claiming that he was nominated by the two Brikama-based clubs Bombada and Brikama United Football clubs, and that he was vice president of Bombada Football Club. Both clubs have come out to deny both claims.

Lying about one's qualification is sufficient to disqualify him as an unworthy candidate for the top footballing position.  In fact, he deserves a more severe penalty for such dishonest behavior.

Barring FIFA's intervention, all other candidates should drop out of the race. Participating in such a sham election only lends legitimacy to an otherwise flawed nomination process.  It also encourages future meddling in the game by government officials who have amply and repeatedly demonstrated their absolute and total uselessness about the game.    

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Absolute mornachy Vs Constitutional monarchy : Hon. Abdoulie Saine's dilemma

Hon. Abdoulie Saine
When the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul Central took to the floor of the National Assembly to convince his colleagues that it was in their " interest as Gambians to introduce a mornachy and crown President Jammeh as King...", the reaction was fast and furious from the opposition parties which led the parliamentarian to spuriously claim that he was being misquoted.

In his disclaimer, he unintentionally dug a deeper hole for himself by repeating the exact words he was quoted as saying by the opposition.  The only difference is the claimed that the crowning of Jammeh should be done "in our own way"; what that means is beyond our comprehension.   May be he should explain to Gambians what he means because as it stands the 1997 Constitution doesn't provide the flexibility without amending it and forcing a national referendum for an new provision.  In short, there's no provision for doing things "in our own way."    

When the idea was first mooted, we didn't take it seriously, so we spoofed it in a blog here :

We are commenting on the idea once more because this time around we believe Jammeh is behind it.  A parliamentarian will not make such a proposal on the floor of the National Assembly by inviting the opposition to join in a partisan proposal of this nature by suggesting that the opposition also stands to benefit with the possibility of occupying the prime ministership if they should lend their support.

The parliamentarian's claim that he's been misquoted suggests that Jammeh was displeased at both the opposition's reaction as well as the inarticulate manner the proposal was handled by Abdoulie Saine on the floor of the parliament.

A parliamentary mornachy is commonly defined as a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a written, unwritten or blended constitution.  It differs from absolute monarch which serves as the sole source of political power and is not legally bound by any constitution.

Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and morocco are all constitutional monarchies. Absolute monarchies are countries like Saudi, Brunei, Swaziland, Qatar and Oman.

Mr. Saine is suggesting to adopt the Morocco model but he will still have to explain which form of parliamentary mornachy he is advocating i.e one that has a written, unwritten or blended constitution.

In fact, there is a fourth option open to him; returning to our pre-Republican status where we have The Queen of England  be our head of state to be represented by Governor General Yaya Jamus Junkung Jammeh with Ousainou Darboe the Prime Minister.  Therefore simply suggesting that we adopt the Morocco model will not suffice.  Further elaboration by Honorable Abdoulie Saine is required before the national debate he is advocating commences.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ebola and The Gambia's 2014 Hajj

Amid rumors that a number of Guineans have been issued, or are in the process of being issued Gambians passports, that will allow them to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform this years Hajj, are just that, rumors.

But given the serious nature of what is at stake here, it is incumbent on the Government of The Gambia to do two things immediately.  It should quell all rumors by assuring the travelling public, especially Gambians planning on performing the Hajj, and their families, that Guineans are not being allowed or will be allowed to fill the Gambian quota to travel to Saudi Arabia.

However, before the regime can come up with such assurances, a thorough investigations must be conducted of the Immigration Department, an outfit known to be one of the most corrupt outfits of the regime, that passports are not being issued, especially to Guineans or other nationalities, for that matter,  for any reason whatsoever, including to perform the Hajj.  Anything short of a thorough investigation and ironclad assurances of the integrity of Hajj preparations is unacceptable, and may suggest to the Saudi authorities that The Gambia is the weak link in the chain, the consequences of which may result in suspension of Hajj visa.  

Gambians do not trust this regime but are afraid to say so because of the repressive nature of the dictatorship. We are, therefore, appealing to the regime to put all shenanigans aside and do the right thing by not issuing visas to non-Gambians to travel to Saudi for this year's Hajj.  In fact, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that other West African countries may join the list of Saudi's travel advisory should new cases are discovered.

The Ebola outbreak is real but can be managed if their is concerted international effort and cooperation and that goes for infected areas and front line countries like The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea Bissau.  The Saudis, on the other hand, are taking no chances even when there's no proof that the virus has spread into the Kingdom.  They have not only issued travel advisory to its citizens not to travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia but they have suspended the issuance of pilgrimage visas to the affected countries.  It means Guineans cannot perform the Hajj this year.

The Jammeh regime is known to buck the international system if it is going to draw attention to himself.  We have seen him displaying his one upmanship when a poor country like The Gambia donated $500,000 to mineral-rich country like Sierra Leon.  The donation is being seen in The Gambia as one more example of how misplaced the Jammeh regime's priorities are when school children who wanted to contribute their own sensitization campaign where turned away because, according to authorities, "there's no money."  One can image what such treatment at the hands of their own government will do to the children's sense of community and their attempt at being good citizens.

We urge the regime to get in front of the Ebola outbreak.  The regime must stop all "celebrations" and other "feel good" activities for the balance of the year, and the money saved be diverted to the preparedness and sensitization efforts.  At least, he has not yet claimed that he has a cure for the Ebola virus.