Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gambia's Attorney General should resign as National Assembly delays bill a second time

IEC Chairman, Carayol 
Justice Minister Singhatey
Gambia's National Assembly has postponed debate on Jammeh's proposed electoral reform bill for the second time in a week because of the controversial nature of the proposals which you can read here and again here

The proposals are designed to eliminate the chance of any meaningful participation of the opposition in future elections.  The fact that the contents of the electoral reform bill were shrouded in secrecy suggests that the regime realized the harmful nature of its proposal. But as soon as details leaked, and the ensuing blow-back from opposition leaders and dissidents groups in the diaspora, the National Assembly postponed the debate until 30th June.  We are now told that the debate has been deferred to 7th July, yet again.

To understand what is at stake, one must look at the events unfolding in Burundi where president Ngurunziza tries to interpret the country's Constitution to make it possible to prolong his stay in office beyond what's allowable under law.  Unsuccessful at convincing the Burundi leader to postpone the parliamentary elections until the constitutional problems are resolved, the African Union and the rest of the international community refused to recognize the outcome of the elections which were marred by violence that threatens to plunge the country into another genocidal mayhem.

The Gambia is moving in the same direction as Burundi if Jammeh and his supporters are not careful. The electoral proposals are unacceptable to all of the major opposition parties, and vehemently opposed by dissident and exile Gambian groups in America, Europe and Senegal.

What is amazing is how the Chairman of the IEC its members continue to allow themselves to be used by Yaya Jammeh to advance his political agenda at the expense of ordinary Gambians.  Mr. Mustapha Carayol and his minions at the IEC are as culpable as Jammeh should Gambia goes by the way of Burundi.

The electoral reform proposals were conceived and crafted by the Executive and handed over to the conniving IEC to shove it  down the throats of the National Assembly, another equally useless body.  The fact that Mr. Carayol is unconstitutionally occupying the Chairmanship proves not to be a deterrence for him to continue conspiring with Jammeh to further deny Gambians the right to vote for the party of their choice by attempting to disqualify as all of the opposition parties.

The odious nature of the proposals have apparently caused some members of the National Assembly to have some second thoughts.  It is being reported that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice has also been reluctant to table a bill that she has problems with.  The tabling will now be done by the Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs which is a desperate move on the part of Jammeh to circumvent his legal adviser.  It is, therefore, time for Mama Fatima Singhatey to resign from the cabinet.  If she doesn't, Jammeh will dismiss her instead.

As the veteran PPP politician, Omar Jallow, reminded us recently, the Minister of Justice is a product of a pedigree that belongs to pre-independence Gambia with an obligation to protecting the legacy of her father who was part of the Lancaster House delegation that negotiated Gambia's independence. She has a legacy, including a good name to protect, Jammeh doesn't.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Do not set Gambia on fire

Sidi Sanneh 
Tomorrow, the Gambian National Assembly is set to debate a number of bills that will raise the registration fee for political parties and/or presidential candidates to D 1,000,000 which represents a 10,000% increase in a country where the average citizen lives on $1.25 per day and were the incidence of poverty nationwide is in the region of 60-70%

Among the measures the National Assembly will be considering is increasing the number of constituencies from 48 to 54 seats in an Assembly that is already overwhelmingly APRC, earning it the name a "rubber-stamp" Assembly.

The death penalty abolished in 1992 by the previous government the Jammeh regime deposed by unconstitutional means was reinstated immediately after the  1994 coup which made it possible for the current regime to extra-judicially execute nine death row prisoners.  Two of those executed were Senegalese, one of whom was a woman.  A third prisoner extra-judicially executed was reported to be mentally handicapped.

The National Assembly is being asked by Jammeh to approve a constitutional amendment that will make it possible to execute those found guilty of murder by non-violent means.  Currently law allows the death penalty only in circumstances involving violence and poisoning.  We have appealed to the good senses of members of the National Assembly in both our Facebook and blog entries.  Approval tantamount to handing Jammeh an AK-47 in exchange for his small caliber pistol.

The electoral measures that the Assembly is considering will effectively bar all opposition parties from participating in the electoral process because there is not a single opposition party that has D 100,000 in its bank account, much less a D 1,000,000.  Only Yaya Jammeh can fulfill the financial requirements to even be on the ballot.

The country is going through the hardest economic times ever recorded since Gambia gained independence in 1965 with high unemployment, especially among the urban youth.  The cost of living is rising near exponential rates.  The rural areas are experiencing food deficits leaving ordinary Gambians hungry with pockets of severe hunger and malnutrition in the middle of the country.

To aggravate a clearly dire situation with a deliberately calibrated sets of political brinkmanship is one possible way of setting Gambia on fire.  Whether the authorize it or not, The Gambia is at the edge. Therefore, Jammeh and his minions need to back off for the good of the country.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gambia's National Assembly must reject Jammeh's election "reform" proposals

Speaker of the National Assembly Bojang 
Proposals to "reform" Gambia's electoral laws that are already considered skewed in favor of the ruling APRC party are before the National Assembly for debate and approval.

The proposals call for a massive increase in the "deposits" a candidate for public office would have to pay to qualify to be on the ballot, once other eligibility requirements such as age and residency among others have been fulfilled.

If the Gambian dictator has his way, as he normally does with is now referred to as the "rubber stamp" National Assembly, the new rates will jump from D 10,000 to D 1,000,000.  In US dollar terms the rates will increase from $ 222  to $ 22,000 representing a 10,000% increase in a country where the average citizen has now been reduced to surviving on $ 1.25 a day and where, according to United Nations figures 33% of Gambians cannot afford three square meals a day.

There are other equally obnoxious components to these so-called reforms, designed, not to turn the country into a one-party state as claimed in some quarters, because for all intent and purposes, The Gambia already is, since 48 of the 53-seat National Assembly is controlled by the ruling APRC. Other components include increases in "deposits" for candidates for the National Assembly from D 5,000 ($ 110) to D 100,000 ( $ 2,220) representing a 950% increase, and increases for those aspiring to be Mayors.

Before we discuss Jammeh's intent for introducing these electoral reforms, let us look at the sweeteners in the reform package designed to lure the unsuspecting and (some would say) gullible opposition leaders into thinking that it is a genuinely thought through set of proposals to address the opposition's concerns which are growing louder.  Jammeh is also aware of the increasing international pressure that seems to be mounting by the week, from the UN Human Rights Council's Rapporteur Report to the European Union's 17 - points demands.

The IMF has joined the fray by threatening to recommend further painful measures before the "bottom drops out" of an economy in crisis due to an undisciplined macro-economic management team, inappropriately led by Yaya Jammeh, and fueled by an insatiable thirst for domestic spending, using local commercial banks as drinking troughs.  The Fund has informed us that the National Assembly leaders have been informed of the dire situation the country is in, and it is expected that they will step up to the plate on the economic front as well as the political issues.  

The "reform" measures include, among other sweeteners, in situ counting of votes and the transfer of the responsibility of of the issuance of permits for political rallies from the Inspector General of Police to the so-called Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).  These specific proposals are being dangled before the opposition because Jammeh believes they will take the bail because they have been clamoring for the former and complaining about the latter because the IGP has always been, until recently, refusing them permits.  To discuss the merits or lack thereof is a political blunder befitting a rookie politician.  The proposals are a distraction which must be seen and treated as such. Any meaningful electoral reform cannot be achieved in a piecemeal fashion and without a common position by a unified opposition.

The National Assembly unpopularity is of it's own making.  Members have allowed to be corrupted by Yaya Jammeh by regularly bribing them with car loans and 'fish money' here and there while slowing taking away the power vested in them by their respective constituents, effectively neutering them in the process.  Now, Gambia is the only country on earth where a member of parliament can be thrown out by the president even though he/she was elected by his/her constituency.  Sadly, ultimate power rests with Jammeh and not the people.  The fault lies squarely on the shoulders of individual members who were voted in by, and should represent the interests of, every single citizen in their respective constituency.

To vote for these measures is to vote for Jammeh's interest, who can afford the D 1,000,000 nonrefundable "deposit" and against the interest of members of the Assembly who cannot meet the current fees without outside help. So you can imagine of they are to pay D 100,000.  The entire package should be rejected outright by the Assembly which, we hope, will force Jammeh to abandon this very bad idea that is even against the political interest of members of his own party.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One Gambian youth's revolt against a dictatorship

It's been long time in the making. but Gambian youth have finally awoken from their deep sleep, and are beginning to say to the regime of Yaya Jammeh that they have been duped into supporting a very corrupt, inept and repressive regime.

A Gambian-American rapper that goes by the name of "Killa Ace" has just released a single 4.13 min. rap song entitled "Ku Boka C Geta G", a Wollof saying roughly translated - if you are co-owner of a herd of cattle, you are entitled to a share of the milk that it produces.  Citizens, be they Imams, artists, journalists or ordinary folk, should have a say in how the country is governed and to participate in its governance but instead they are made to disappear, imprisoned, exiled, tortured and killed by a very vicious regime.

The power of the song lies in how it encapsulates the 21-year of one of the world's most repressive regime in few short minutes, with an equally short but powerful message that the Gambia has been hijacked by Yaya Jammeh and a few of his cronies, most of whom are foreigners, and pilfering the national treasury to sponsor D 100,000 dinner galas nights while the rest of the country go hungry.

The irony is that Mayors of effectively bankrupt Municipalities are among the sponsors of these obscene dinners while employees go for months without salary, and residents cannot afford thre square meals as attested to numerous U.N agencies operating in The Gambia. The Kanifing Municipality under Yankuba Colley, is one such functionally illiterate,corrupt, insensitive and incompetent Mayor the song is referring to.    

The economic hardship resulting from bad policies of an incompetent regime is forcing the young to take the "Back Way" - local lingo for migrating to Europe -  an international phenomenon that the regime has refused to acknowledge, and when it does grudgingly, Jammeh blames Italy and the European Union for causing the death of Africans and Gambians in the Mediterranean.  

The lyric is piercingly frank and direct to the point of naming and shaming the person of Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator which must be a first.  Few Gambian artists ever ventured beyond vaguely-worded lyrics disguised as criticism of the regime for fear of being made to disappear, send to the notorious National Intelligence Agency's holding cells to be tortured or held at Mile II prisons which has been classified as among the world's worst.

Jammeh's hypocrisy and lack of national pride, despite his claims to the contrary, also came under attack in the song when we are reminded of how the dictator will import Senegalese artists to Indepenedence and other celebrations, shower them with expensive gifts that include cars and cash in Euros or US dollars, while Gambian artists are left to scrounge around for the crumbs.

There is little doubt that " Killa Ace" faces real danger should he return to The Gambia from Dakar where he recorded the song, according to reports.  The song did not lose sight that the singer may suffer the same fate as many Jammeh critics and opponents when, at the end of song the singer sends a direct message to all that in the event he goes missing, we should know where to look or who to ask because the world now knows"what's going on in The Gambia."  

Because of the political potency of the message which criticizes Jammeh by name, there may be ramifications.  It is therefore prudent for supporters and admirers of "Killa Arc" to take all necessary precaution, as a means of protecting the singers right to free speech and expression.  We are proud of Killa Ace and support his right to protest against a corrupt and incompetent regime.   The youth of the Gambia are finally saying to Jammeh : Enough is enough.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The bottom will fall off Gambia's economy if... says IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief of Mission to The Gambia has finally warned the Government of The Gambia of an impending economic disaster if "corrective measures" are not taken immediately to reverse an imprudent fiscal policies.

Failure to take immediate steps will result in the regime being forced into a painful adjustment program, the Fund warned the appropriate authorities, including Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his colleagues of the National Assembly.  

The IMF Mission Chief, Mr. Bhashwar  Mukhopadhyay, made the revelations at a Civil Society Forum last Friday where he lamented at the fact that the regime has been pursuing inappropriate policies for a long time which has led to the country's current predicament, despite many warnings from the Fund and other donor agencies.  The IMF official was quoted as saying "there is no time for Gambia to waste in implementing corrective measures before the bottom drops out."

As we have reported in the pages for the past two-and-one-half years, the Jammeh regime has been financing its political agenda using domestic borrowings to achieve its political agenda resulting in a domestic borrowing that now stands at 50% of GDP in 2014, compared to 33% of GDP in 2012.  The regime's incessant domestic borrowing is fueling inflation, adding to the woes of the ordinary Gambian who's trying to make ends meet.

Public enterprises, such as NAWEC, GPA and GAMTEL, have been greatly impacted by an irresponsible government that has consistently drained them of financial resources resulting in their inability to meet their external debt obligations and to finance their day-to-day operations.

GAMTEL's domestic debt obligations to local commercial banks to the tune of over $ 12 million is still unexplained to the general public despite demands for explanation.  The joint parliamentary oversight committee (PAC/PEC) is derelict in its duty for refusing to demand full explanation of how GAMTEL incurred such a huge debt, and on what was it spent on.

The spiraling domestic debt has also contributed significantly to limiting the private sector access to credit from the commercial banks for business expansion which would have resulted in job creation for the growing army of unemployed youth. These inappropriate policies have inadvertently contributed to the mass exodus of Gambian youth towards Europe.

We'll wait and see whether the IMF will finally put a program in place that will inject some sense into a regime that seem to be over its head.  Incompetence and corruption, unfortunately left unchecked for several years, are the main drivers of the economic meltdown.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A case to try Yaya Jammeh locally

ICC's Fatou Bensouda
Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian-born ICC's Chief Prosecutor has come under heavy criticism lately from the Gambian dissident communities strewn across Europe, the United States and Africa, for what is seen as her refusal to open up a case file against the Gambian dictator, as if there is solid ground for Jammeh's case to be taken up by the ICC.

First let us look at the mandate of the ICC under the Rome Statute which clearly mandates of the Court to try individuals (and not States), " and to hold such persons accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression, when the conditions of the Court's jurisdiction over the latter are fulfilled."

Even the most vociferous opponents of Jammeh will agree that Jammeh's crimes, however odious, cannot be classified as genocide, war crimes or crime of aggression which is defined as "the planning, preparation, initiation or execution by a person in a leadership position" against a State.  Unless Jammeh plans, prepares, initiates and executes a plan of aggression against his neighbors, he cannot be charged with crime of aggression either.

The only charge left on the table that Jammeh could possibly be charged with appears to be extremely remote, and that is crimes against humanity which is defined as "acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack. "

Generally, lawyers agree that the threshold for crimes against humanity is very high and thus difficult to attain, and when it is attained, it is difficult to secure conviction.  In the case of Jammeh, reaching the threshold of "widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population" will be difficult, legally speaking, that is.

Yes, you've guessed it - Yaya can and should be tried in The Gambia where most the crimes against the Gambian people are being committed.  It is not as if it will be the first time that the country has collaborated with the international community, through the affiliated agencies of the United Nations and the Commonwealth Secretariat, to successfully prosecuted individuals accused of crimes against the State, in an open court of law.

We've done it after the 1981 coup d'etat, and we can do it again after removing Yaya Jammeh from office.  By going this route, we are certain of Jammeh being prosecuted.  The court proceedings will be more efficiently efficiently handled as evidenced in our 1981/82 experience.  It will also be less expensive to the national treasury because a significant portion of the costs associated with the trials will be underwritten by the international community and traditional donors.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

EU will continue to withhold aid from Gambia worth $37 million

The European Union continues to block aid money worth 33 million euros ($37 million) earmarked for The Gambia, says Reuters.

The expulsion of the EU representative from the Gambia by the erratic Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh, has made it impossible to unblock aid.

The expulsion has also triggered a wave of anger and frustration among some EU members, some of whom want to apply sanctions, including the freezing of aid, because of the poor human rights record and other governance issues, including the rule of law that is being abridged regularly  

A Western diplomat familiar with the talks between EU and the government of The Gambia is quoted as saying that "there's no way the money will be unblocked now."  Another Western diplomat was quoted by Reuters that the talks between the two parties "was a disaster."

Gambia's decision to block consular access to foreign nationals in jails and the meddling into the foreign exchange markets by pegging the depreciating local currency to the US dollar despite pledging to the IMF, EU and other donors to the contrary.

Faced with a shrinking economy, in addition to the toll already taken by the Ebola outbreak, even though the country was Ebola-free, on the tourism sector, the regime of Yaya Jammeh is faced with the most severe financial crisis in its 21-year rule.  The country is also experiencing an exodus of thousands of young able-bodied Gambians to Europe.

At least, all is not lost, according to the European Commission spokesperson who confirmed that 4 million euros previously approved would still be disbursed.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be considering the Rapporteur Report on extrajudicial executions in The Gambia, tomorrow, Thursday, where it is expected that the regimes's atrocious human rights record will come under scrutiny and severe criticism

GAMBIA: 10,000% increase in nonrefundable fee or poll tax for presidential candidates

IEC Chairman taking an oath to be impartial
Plans are afoot by the Gambian dictator to increase fees for presidential candidates by 10,000%.  Yaya Jammeh, through the Independent Electoral Commission, plans to submit the proposal that will raise the fee from D 10,000 ($ 222) to D 1,000,000 ($ 22,000), to a rubber-stamp National Assembly that will automatically give the dictator the green light.

Another change is that the fee is no longer refundable, even if you have 20% of the votes, as it is the case now, which effectively transforms these "deposits" into poll taxes for the political parties.

Candidates wishing to stand for the National Assembly will also see their fees raised from D 5,000 to D 100,000 or 950%.  Candidates for the presidential elections would, in addition to the exuberantly high nonrefundable fees, will be required to secure 10,000 signatures per voting constituency to qualify to be placed in the ballot.

The current fees that are now subject for revision are fixed in the 1997 Constitution.  Therefore, to change them would require an amendment to the Constitution.  The proposals are so breathtakingly far reaching and extensive in scope, affecting the very core of the electoral system, that to implement them tantamount to the death knell of opposition political parties.

The timing and the extent of the proposals make them suspect and lack credibility.  It could be a political ploy to divert the energies of the opposition away from the immediate task of coalescing around a single candidate, provided electoral reforms take place place - the kind that opens up the process rather than one that constricts voter and political party participation in the electoral process.  

The opposition parties must form a Unified Front to fight these new rules that Jammeh wants to put in place before the 2016 elections which, we will continue to maintain, Jammeh should not present himself as a presidential candidate.  Twenty-two years is enough.  He should allow his party to select a candidate of its choice.

It is absolutely imperative for the opposition in unison, in this particular case, to make it clear that these proposals are unacceptable. To do otherwise is playing into the hands of a man who, in desperation, will go to any length to make the political environment untenable and the electoral terrain hostile to all and sundry, except the ruling party.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Demonstrations for Alhagie Ceesay and Ebou Jobe at Senator Harry Reid's Las Vagas' offices

        Alhagie Mamut Ceesay (missing)                Ebou Jobe (missing)            
Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe are two Gambia-American citizens who left their comfortable homes and beautiful young families in May 2013 to travel to their native Gambia only to disappear once they reach Banjul.  They have not been seen or heard from since.  The government has denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.

Add caption

Their families are demanding answers from the Gambia government and are demanding from the United States government a more aggressive stance against the regime of Yaya Jammeh to provide plausible explanation.

It is in this connection that members of the two families, friends, relatives, neighbors of Alhagie Ceesay and Ebou Jobe demonstrated in front of the Las Vegas offices of the Nevada Democratic Senator  Harry Reid who received three of the members of the protest group in his private chambers to listen to their plight.  The U.S. administration must adopt aggressive approach towards a highly repressive and untrustworthy regime.

Is Jammeh behind the human trafficking that feeds the "Backway" syndrome?

The white shiny bus
The white shiny bus shown here has been identified in a Washington Post article authored by Kevin Sieff that serves as the beginning of the "Backway" journey from The Gambian capital of Banjul with the final destination of Agadez, Niger.

We wrote a piece last April, identifying Banjul as one of the centers of human trafficking.  Greater Banjul is a city at war with itself with military road block every 500 meters along the highway which made us to conclude that it is inconceivable for the authorities to be unaware of the human trafficking activities going on right in front of their noses.

Light is finally beginning to be shone on this aspect of the 'Backway syndrome', thanks to the focus that highly reputable news outlets' increasing focus on this sliver of a land that is contributing more than any country in Africa, proportionally speaking.

The "Backway" traffic increased markedly since last December, resulting in a significant increase in drownings in the Mediterranean. 14% of those who drowned in the first quarter of this year were Gambian, a country of 1.8 million which triggered international curiosity as to what's going on in The Gambia.

The bus pictured here is of particular interest because it cannot be allowed to circulate freely without someone higher up the chain of authority assuring its free movement across the Gambia with human cargo on board whose finally destination is known.

If Jammeh is opposed to human trafficking and has accused parents of those allowing their children of being un-Islamic because they are contributing towards their fares, why buses, like the one depicted here, operating freely.

Jammeh appears to be augmenting his campaign of deception by asking the ICC Chief prosecutor to investigate why Gambians and African emigrants are allowed to die in the Mediterranean, and accusing Italy and EU of deliberately causing the deaths.  It is also a preemptive move since the Italian government has announced their investigation of the human trafficking aspect of the tragedy.

Just as Jammeh has refused to accept that his bad economic policies and the human rights conditions of Gambians, he has deliberately turned a blind eye to the human trafficking going on at his front door.

Help us identify this shiny white bus.  Thank you.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

UN Rapporteur's Report on Gambia's human rights record

The Gambia 
Human rights overview

     The country is characterized by disregard for the rule of law, infringements of civil liberties and the existence of a repressive State apparatus. State institutions are weak and under the influence and control of the executive power, namely the President. Transparency and accountability in public affairs are scarce and there are no independent institutions or processes to channel alternative voices or social demands. The activities of civil society organizations are closely monitored by the executive. The Special Rapporteur encountered many manifestations of fear and frustration in civil society, with reports of rampant State-led violence, persecution of the media and critical voices, and impunity for human rights violations. Human rights concerns also include interference with the independence of the judiciary, denial of due process, prolonged pretrial and incommunicado detention, poor prison conditions, persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, and tolerance of the practice of female genital mutilation. It appears that, at best, the State, for strategic reasons, occasionally pays lip service to human rights, but otherwise pursues the narrow interests of power and political survival. Human rights protection is largely an illusion.
Paragraph 10 of the UN Rapporteur Report on extrajudicial executions. Report to be tabled at the June 18 -19 UN Human Rights Council in Geneva
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Jammeh's health continues to deteriorate

Jammeh at the Elysee
Yaya Jammeh's health continues to deteriorate as challenges to his iron-grip rule mount, from both internal and external forces.  It has been known for at least four years now that he suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and high anxiety levels that incapacitates him for days with only family members and Syrian doctors in attendance.

Lately, these anxiety bouts have gotten the best part of him causing him to be incoherent in speech and erratic in action beyond his normal trademark levels of incoherence.  It is no surprise that Jammeh's health is being closely monitored by both his foreign and business partners, leading them to start whisking their investments away.

Previously profitable businesses are being closed and fixed assets transferred to government entities that will prove to be burden to the national treasury.  One such transfers is the Bazzi-owned Brikama power plant that was transferred under cover to government for a sum estimated to be in the region of D 800,000 - D 1,000,000,000.  The Finance Minister did not reveal the equivalence of 2% of GDP expenditure made by government "on behalf of NAWEC".

A source observed that these business partners have been quietly divesting at home and quietly transferring investments abroad for what they see as the untenability of the political climate - they see Jammeh losing grip on power - and his continued deteriorating physical health, some would say, his mental health as well.    

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Up-Date - Do not demolish beach bars, admonish owners and regularize their status

Critics of Yaya Jammeh have long maintained that he is out to punish Gambians and not to seek redress to what he and his fellow putchists, who seized power in 1994, saw as injustice during the Jawara administration.  After 21 years, the regime cannot shed the well-earned reputation of being vengeful of a class of people who would rather go about their daily chores without the additional burden of being identified with any political party.

Most of the beach bar operators whose establishments are about to be demolished fit this description. Some of them lived and worked in Europe and the little savings they had were brought home and invested in these beach bars.  Now, they stand to lose their life savings because they did not apply to, nor were they given approval by, the Tourism Board.  This is the Ministry of Tourism's version of events. We have not heard from the owners of these establishments.  As far as the regime is concerned and, since these small investors are operating illegally, their investments must be bulldozed.  We wrote a piece in March 2014 criticizing the regime for using the bulldozer, otherwise a symbol of progress, as a weapon to punish Gambians and foreign investors.

Bulldozing beach bars (and homes) is not the ideal solution to the problem.  Rather, it makes more sense to work with owners to help them regularize the location of their establishments and satisfying the building code and other requirements.  Considering the amount of the size of the investment which, in many instances, represents the entire net worth of these small Gambian businessmen and women, individually, helping them save it is certainly better than destroying them which is an insidious way of punishing Gambian and non-Gambian investors alike.

What is perplexing is the tone-deafness of a regime that claims to be the champion of the youth and women, and that incessantly assures citizens that these are not "witching hunting" exercises, yet government and security agencies are constantly harassing young men and women on the highways and denying them access to the very same beaches where these establishments are located.  No wonder tourists are fleeing the country for other destinations because of the ever present military personnel who have turned the tourism area into an armed camp.

By bulldozing these beach bars, the regime is once more shooting itself in the foot.  It is sending the wrong message to Gambians abroad wishing to invest in the country; the message being your investments are not safe in The Gambia.  To those beach bars owners whose properties are about to be bulldozed, the regime's message to them is, return to Europe via the "Back Way", the treacherously dangerous route Yaya Jammeh claims to discourage to the point of asking the ICC to investigate Italy and the European Union.   Conflicting messages of these sorts are further signs of a regime out of its depth and drowning in its own sea of incompetence and vindictiveness.
UP-DATE :  Unfortunately, the regime of Yaya Jammeh has carried out its threat and has destroyed several beach bars in the tourism area or the TDA.  Investors, both foreign and domestic, have lost their life savings in trying to make a decent living while creating employment for Gambians.  After these images, who in his or her right mind would want to invest in the Gambia while Jammeh remains in power.  (Photo : Courtesy of FatuRadio Facebook page)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The deliberate humiliation of the EU Ambassador to The Gambia by Yaya Jammeh

EU Ambassador presenting letters to Foreign Minister
Joaquin Gonzalez-Ducay, EU Ambassador presenting letters 

Joaquin Gonzalez-Ducay, the new European Union Ambassador to Senegal and The Gambia is shown above presenting his letter of credence to President Macky Sall (left photo) last February, and to Gambia's Foreign Minister who was standing in for dictator Yaya Jammeh who had refused since February to receive the new EU Ambassador.

The uncivilized manner in which EU Ambassador Gonzalez-Ducay was treated by Yaya Jammeh, not to speak of the EU Charge d'Affaires who was expelled from The Gambia, is further manifestation on that the regime does not represent the good people of the Gambian who treat their guests with pride and dignity.  Jammeh and his ilk are un-Gambian which is one more reason why we will do everything possible to rid Gambia of the cancer.

That said, the European Union, being the single largest development partner must take firmer steps in the disbursement sphere to deny the Jammeh regime the development funds, particularly in the area of road infrastructure most of which is financed by the European Union, until such time that the 17-point demands are met.

The Special Rapporteur Report on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions scheduled for presentation at the UN Human Rights Council should shine further light on the deplorable human rights record of the Jammeh administration that will add to a long list of human rights abuses of a sinister regime outlined in the EU's 17-point demands.

Let the market determine the price of meat

Dr. Dennis Carayal, Chairman, Livestock agency
Ramadan is upon us once more, and as predictable as the sun rising from the east, officials of the regime are tripping all over themselves in an attempt to control the price of meat and other basic commodities.

Price control was abandoned as a policy in 1986 when the market was liberalized by allowing it to do the allocation with some regulatory framework provided to ensue fairness and openness.

However, since 1994 when Jammeh entered the scene, he has been unable to decide if the free market is his forte or he prefers the old Soviet-style, centrally-planned economy where the planners set the prices with total disregard to the supply and demand mechanism.

Dr. Dennis Carayol, Chairman of the Livestock Agency, convened a 'consultative meeting' of security personnel, government officials, livestock owners, butchers, Area councilmen and women to discuss meat prices.  The regime believes that prices are artificially high and therefore should come down regardless of the cost to bringing the meat/cattle to market.

As livestock owners have tried explaining to the regime that most of their animals are bought in Senegal or Mauritania and normally priced in CFA francs, they cannot sell their animals at a loss. Similarly the butchers have argued that to sell at a lower price will result in their inability to realize returns that will sustain their business.

If it weren't because of the potential for these hard working livestock owners and butchers going to jail for selling their meat at market prices, we would have let the market do the talking for us.  But since that's not a viable proposition, we thought we could put in our two cents worth of commentary by saying to Jammeh, once more, that his attempt at controlling prices will only result in shortages, bringing further hardship to ordinary Gambians which have suffered enough under the A(F)PRC regimes.

Jammeh has tried it of numerous other occasions without success.  To repeat the same stupid exercise, year in, year out, is further testimony that the regime of Yaya Jammeh has run out of ideas. In fact, they had no idea in the first instance on how to govern the country which has led to Gambia's current predicament.

Our advise is : Allow the market to work for the benefit of all, including the abattoir which now belongs to Yaya Jammeh.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Imam Fatty is first a politician before he's an Islamic cleric

Imam Abdoulie Fatty
Amidst reports that Abdoulie Fatty, the former State House Imam, has fled the Gambia, there's debate in the dissident communities in the U.K. and America regarding how to treat the venerable Imam.

Whether he has actually left the Gambia or not, his role in blurring the boundaries of a secular and an Islamic State will remain, and will be called upon to respond to queries from Gambians.

Dr. Baba Ceesay is in a similar mold, and perhaps more radical and irresponsible as Imam Fatty.   Dr. Ceesay's version of Islam justifies the killing of opposition leaders, including other opponents of a regime ordained by Allah.

The brand of Islam practice by Abdoulie Fatty and Baba Ceesay has a high political content, with both associated closely with state-run institution.  Imam Fatty was Imam of the State House Mosque while Dr. Ceesay is still associated with the University of The Gambia - an institution that is filled with supporters of the regime.

These APRC clerics chose the political instead of the religious route; Messrs. Fatty and Ceesay among them.  They see nothing wrong with sharing political platforms with Yaya Jammeh, particularly Imam Fatty who has participated in the cultural "shows" in Jammeh's home village, and according to reliable sources he has witnessed beauty contests where scantily clad young girls are on display.  Jammeh had challenged these clerics to prove that beauty contests are impermissible by Islam which was met with deafening silence from venerable Imam thus giving Yaya Jammeh a pass because the Gambian dictator loves his beauty contests.

All is not lost.  As a commentator on my Facebook said so succinctly, "all the pious religious leaders and teachers I know are humble, honest and kind-hearted men who disapprove of the terror and depravity of Yaya Jammeh."  Karamba Touray continued in his comment to say "the ones you see prancing Yaya Jammeh are politicized opinion merchants operating in the guise of religion.

Although men of faith tend to ignore these merchants of politicized opinion, there are many unsuspecting group of Gambians including the youth who are highly susceptible the political propaganda wrapped in a nice package with the Islamic insignia deceitfully stamped on it.

It is our view that these category of clerics have contributed in no small measure to the blurring of the boundaries between a secular and Islamic state and thus have become part of the problem they help create.  Therefore, these caliber of clerics are going to be treated as any politician.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jammeh accuses Susan Rice of “shamelessly diverting attention away from America’s abysmal rights record.”

Dr. Susan Rice, National Security Adviser

The National Security Adviser, Dr. Susan Rice, is the latest target of the Gambia's idiosyncratic leader who is known for his highly bombastic and graphic attacks against gays and lesbians.   The Gambian latest attack against the United States stance in support of the LGBT community came after the U.S. criticized Jammeh's latest threats against gays whom he threatens to "slit their throats". 

The U.S. and Gambian relations have been deteriorating steadily, especially after the passage of what The Gambian leader called the "aggravated homosexual act" that can carry life imprisonment. Since the passage of one of the most severe laws anywhere against gays and lesbian, the LGBT community in The Gambia has been under the radar of a highly repressive regime.  Those identified as gays have been rounded up, detained in undisclosed locations and tortured.

The latest spat between Jammeh and the U.S. was triggered by Susan Rice's strong condemnation of the regime's LGBT rights record - a record that thinkprogress.org described as "one of the worse...on Earth."  Samantha Power, the U.S permanent representative at the United Nations accused Jammeh via twitter of engaging in hate speech when he was quoted as referring to gays as vermin. 

Jammeh has denied the U.S “unsubstantiated allegations of arbitrary arrests, detention and torture” which, according to the government statement is a “systematic campaign to dent the good image of the country and to demonize the leadership” because of its stance against homosexuality.

The Gambian dictator said the National Security Adviser cannot occupy the moral high ground when her country’s own human rights record, including what the statement refers to “institutionalized racism”, citing the recent killings of “innocent and unarmed Black Americans by White police officers” across the U.S. 

The government statement referred to the early settlers or (Pilgrims) as “European outlaws” and “it is shameful”, the statement continues, “ that a country that has legalized torture and praises genocide, can blame the Gambia for non-existent human rights abuses.”

It is curious and highly hypocritical of the regime of Yaya Jammeh to accuse the United States of legalizing torture when, according to allgov.com and at the request of the CIA,  Jammeh’s regime captured, detained and interrogated three suspects, two of whom were sent to Guantanamo from Banjul.   

At least, the Bush administration recognized the dilemma posed by fact that torture is illegal in the United States which forced it to recruit willing partners outside of U.S law for the rendition program.  Fifty four countries participated in the program worldwide and The Gambia was one of them under the watchful eye of Yaya Jammeh.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Yaya Jammeh wants ICC to investigate Italy and the European Union over African migrant's drownings in the Mediterranean

ICC's Fatou Bensouda
"The Gambia has formally asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the circumstance surrounding the deaths of African migrants who died at sea trying to make it to the European mainland", the regime of Yaya Jammeh announced on government-controlled radio and television.

The decision was relayed to the Gambian-born ICC's Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, at a meeting in the State House in Banjul with the Gambian leader, Yaya Jammeh and the African Union (AU) who have played a critical role in her international legal career.
It is the very same AU that Yaya Jammeh and other disgruntled  African leaders, including Uhuru Kenyatta are threatening to withdraw their membership from to establish a rival body that will advance the cause of the Pan African ideal and spirit since the African body is a stooge of the "imperialists powers like America and the EU."  The election of the Chief Prosecutor would not have been possible without the endorsement of the continent's premier political body thus posing a political dilemma for her.

Jammeh claims that because his government's earlier demands to the European Union and the United Nation to investigate were ignored, he had to turn to the ICC for action against Italy and the European Union thus putting the Gambian Chief Prosecutor in the limelight after her failed attempt to bring to book Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta's alleged role in the post-election violence in 2007-2008 over 1,200 Kenyans died.

The controversial case pitted the Chief Prosecutor against the AU that sponsored her candidature that led to her elections that led to the talk of setting up an African version of the ICC.  Perhaps, by asking Mrs. Bensouda to investigate Italy and the European Union over the deaths by drowning of thousands of Africans is a way of redressing, in the mind of the Gambian dictator, what many African leaders see as the Court's bias towards African warlords and dictators.

The fine line that the Chief Prosecutor has to walk between her allegiance to Jammeh, whom he served as his Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the African Union who put up candidature against an Australian, a Tanzanian and a British legal expert (all highly qualified).  There is little doubt that Mrs. Bensouda's professional independence has been and continues to be put to the test by these opposing forces with different political agendas.  The latest demands are coming from Gambian dissidents abroad who'd like to see her open an investigations into the conduct of the Gambian dictator's human rights abuses, despite the high threshold set in the Rome Statutes for crimes against humanity.

The highly unpredictable dictator of one of the world's poorest and Africa's smallest country during his meeting with the Chief Prosecutor implicitly accused the European Union of deliberately contributing, if not actually causing, the deaths of thousands of Africans, including a disproportionately high number of Gambians in the Mediterranean.

During his meeting with the Chief Prosecutor, Jammeh did not only question the motives of the Italian navy that was conducting the rescue missions but blaming them of the high number of deaths because "if what they are doing today, they were doing before, no African will perish" according to Jammeh who never bothered to acknowledge nor issue condolences to the relatives of hundreds of Gambian lives lost at sea.

In fact, Jammeh blamed the parents of the drowned for encouraging their children to migrate - parents he called "un-Islamic" but yet will blame the Europeans for the migration when it is evident that mismanaged macroeconomic policies as well as his deplorable human rights record are contributing factors to the out-migration of young Gambians.

The last thing the Gambian Chief Prosecutor needs is to be seen on national television taking, what appears to be, her matching orders from her former boss at a time when Jammeh's image abroad has taken a serious turn for the worse, and from the caricature image of the village idiot who claims to have discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS to a human rights abuser to threatens to slit the throats of gays and lesbians.  As we said in our Facebook page, Jammeh is advised to leave well alone and stop drawing unnecessary international attention and ridicule to her and the ICC.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jammeh's bizarre behavior a cause for international concern

EU's Agnes Guillaud with Gambia's former Financed Minister Kolley
Expelling diplomats, including international aid workers has become the weapon of choice of Gambia's unpredictable and temperamental dictator.

The list include a First Secretary in the British High Commission (now an Embassy), a United Nations Development Program Resident Representative and a World Food Program Resident Representative.

The Charge d'Affaires of the European Union, Ms. Agnes Guillaud has been added to the list as the latest victim of the increasingly erratic leader who has been given 72 hours to leave The Gambia.

The announcement was made in the government-controlled radio and television GRTS,  As it the usual practice, no reason was given for the expulsion which may be linked to the suspension of disbursement of EDF funds resulting from Gambia's deplorable human rights record of the Jammeh regime.

Gambia's new Foreign Minister appears to have been nudging Jammeh towards resolution of the stalled negotiations with the EU regarding it's 17-point demands on the regime to improve the country's rights and other governance record.

 Any progress registered in previous negotiations between the parties may have suffered a setback by the expulsion.  It is interesting to note that Europe Day observance at the EU offices in Fajara last month coincided with the farewell ceremony of Ms. Agnes Guillaud, Charge d'Affaires of the Delegation of the European in The Gambia, following her four-year term and retirement from the European External Action Service, according to The Point newspaper report.  If Ms. Guillaud was to retire in a few weeks, why expel her in the first instance?  A very bizarre move by an equally and increasingly bizarre regime .

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Word of advice to Gambia's umpteenth Chief Justice

Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle
We refer to Gambia's newly-minted Chief Justice, Emmanuel Fagbenle, as the 'other Emmanuel' because of the notorious Justice Emmanuel Nkea who had to run for his life when he crossed the line of Gambia's absolute ruler, and has since been declared a fugitive from the law.

The two Emmanuels, among other judges - all foreign - belong in a class of 'judges' referred as 'mercenary judges' personally recruited and handsomely remunerated by the Gambian dictator to carry out his instructions from the bench.  

Like the legislature, the judiciary has been subsumed by the Executive, to become a potent instrument of repression.  Judgments are handed down from State House in Banjul or the dictator's village residence of Kanilai.

Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle is not new to the Gambian judicial scene.  He has acted in many capacities in the Justice Ministry and has briefly acted in February 2014 as Chief Justice during the recent judicial games of musical chairs.  At the time, we promised to continue to monitor his professional behavior, as we have of other judges, with a few to naming and shaming them, and as a way of alerting prospective employers.       

The Gambia has had four Chief Justices in three years.  The last before Fagbenle, Pakistan-born Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan resigned and was expelled from The Gambia by the Gambian dictator only last month for freeing, on appeal, a Rear Admiral accused of attempting to overthrow the dictatorship.  When he was appointed Chief Justice to succeed the Ghanaian-born Mabel Agyemang who also had to run for her life, Justice Chowhan was also warned about the treacherous road he was about to travel.  We also advised that he should stay out of local politics when he wrote a letter congratulating the Gambian dictator following the foiled coup d'etat last December which Jammeh mistook as a signal of the Pakistani-born legal luminary that he was willing to play ball.  It didn't take long before he too was expelled for refusal to play ball with a notorious dictator. 

Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle having come up the ranks of a judiciary that is politicized, he knows very well what he's up against.  He got this far because he did was he was told to do as a member of the prosecution team and on the bench.  He is not the first Nigerian Chief Justice.  Justice Wowo, another Nigerian had the dubious honor of being the first Chief Justice to have been sentenced to a prison term.  As far as we can tell, he's still at Mile II prisons serving a 2-year sentence for misuse of office.