Friday, July 31, 2015

Prisoner pardon will not save Yaya Jammeh from prosecution says Amnesty International-Senegal

Seydi Gassama, Amnesty International - Senegal
The pardoning of a Senegalese death row inmate by the Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh will not save him from being prosecuted once he leaves office,  Mr, Seydi Gassama, Amnesty International - Senegal was quoted as saying.

Mr. Gassama, who heads Amnesty International - Senegal, asserted that the "international isolation of Jammeh is almost total" and that "pardoning prisoners will not save him from prosecution once he leaves office."

While welcoming the release of these prisoners, the Head of Amnesty International - Senegal, Mr. Gassama calls on ECOWAS, African Union and the international community to continue to apply the pressure on Jammeh,  According to Mr. Gassama, it is because of the international sanctions against the regime of Yaya Jammeh that the Gambian economy is being asphyxiated.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Gassama recognizes the important role that the diaspora Gambian communities is playing in the fight against an extremely vile regime that preys on the innocent and defenseless civilian population by suggesting that they will not rest until Jammeh is thrown out of office.  He characterized the Jammeh regime as "that was based on assassinations, forced disappearances.  People have been shot" he concluded.

The Amnesty International - Senegal boss suggested that as long as unjust laws exist in The Gambia that makes it possible to jail journalists, members of civil society among others, the prisons will be full to capacity before the end of the year.

** This story is based on a piece reported in Seneweb.com

If God took them to Mile II prisons, why are they praising Jammeh for their release

Ex-convicts "pardoned" by the Gambian dictator

The ex-convicts pardoned by the Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh, are seen here matching in the Banjul City Square to show their appreciation to the person who concocted charges against most of them or were jailed for several years without charge.

As a close collaborator said to me recently , "they say it is GOD that took them to Mile II" - the notorious prison facility that is listed as one of the worst in the world - "how come they are praising Jammeh for their release" instead of God.

Our response is: remember most of these "pardoned prisoners" were members of the repressive security apparatus that has kept the dictatorship in power for 21 years by carrying out atrocities against a defenseless civilian population.  They were responsible for the maiming, killing, forced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, raping and torturing of many Gambians and non-Gambians alike to instill fear in a country where FEAR RULES, according to Amnesty International.

To complete the "humiliation parade", Jammeh will force them to spend the rest of the rainy season at his home village farm of Kanilai where they will be used as indentured laborers.  What a shame.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The unraveling of Jammeh's prisoner pardon scheme

Mrs. MacDouall-Gaye
When the Gambian dictator announced the release of "over two hundred and something", to quote his Interior Minister, the euphoric reaction immediately dissipated after details, or lack thereof, started to unravel.

We have written a great deal since last week on the topic, and to date the story line keeps changing, confirming our initial suspicion that the scheme was prompted by the country's precarious financial position which is the driving force behind the abrupt u-turn on the prisoner  release.  Gambia needs financial resources and the quickest way of alleviating the budgetary pressure is the release of the blocked EDF funds by the European Union.

We have also highlighted the discrepancies and imprecision of the number of prisoners affected.  Several figures have been banded about, from the precise number of 235 prisoners to the Interior Minister's vague reference to an approximation of 'two hundred and something.

Today, at the match pass ceremony, both Gambia's foreign minister, Neneh MacDouall-Gaye and the vice president have augmented the figure to "about three hundred" which is further proof that our demand for a comprehensive list of ALL affected prisoners with personal details - for the purposes of identification - is imperative.  We demanded it previously.  We are repeating the demand here.

Of course, for all of this to be official, the names of all of the prisoners MUST be gazetted in the Government Gazette for all of this to be official.

In reaction to the loud and incessant criticism about the apparent tribal preference favoring Jammeh's minority Jola tribe that represent a disproportionately higher number of those released, even when the crime for which they were accused of are more serious or the same as those left behind most of whom are Mandinka tribe, nine more prisoners, comprising of the other tribes, to respond to the tribalism charge.

The speeches at the match pass ceremony, especially from the foreign minister, is further evidence that the decision was reached to entice the donor community to release the much needed development assistant, particularly the EDF funds.  She announced a diplomatic charm offensive that will start with next Tuesday's meeting with members of the diplomatic corps whose nationals were among the prisoners pardoned who will express their gratitude and appreciation to the regime, according to Mrs. MacDouall-Gaye.

It appears that the Jammeh regime was expecting a much more upbeat rather than the lukewarm reaction from the recent U.S. State Department contained in the form of a  Press Statement, thus the need to ramp up the diplomatic campaign.  Presumably, the American (although no known Americans were among the released prisoners), British, Dutch, Senegalese, Nigerian and Ghanaian Ambassadors will be invited to the meeting.  Those resident in Dakar (Dutch and Ghanaian Ambassadors) will have to make the trip to Banjul.

Nothing seem to be going in the regime's favor. Even the much publicized prisoner match pass was greeted by torrential rains that lasted an entire day which was poorly attended if it weren't for the vale threat to civil servants who were instructed by the Head of the Civil Service for all to participate in the event.  Those who fail to attend without justifiable reason risk being dismissed or sent to jailed.

The scheme which was a propaganda ploy which was expected to turn the tables in the regime's favor and against the dissident communities in America and Europe is now developing into a diplomatic nightmare for the regime.

The speech by the foreign minister appeared rather defensive for the occasion which tried to assure Gambians that the prisoner pardon scheme was all the idea of Jammeh and that the regime was under no pressure to act the way it did; which may be true.  But when your economy is in such shambles with mounting budget deficits, difficulty meeting payroll of civil servants' on the eve of an election year, no external pressure is necessary.  The donors will sit back and watch you twist slowly in the wind, Watergate style.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Open Letter to Chairperson of Africa Union Commission

                       HE Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-ZumaChairperson of the Africa Union Commission  

                      

















H.E.  Dr Nkoszana Dlamini-Zuma
Chairperson, Africa Union Commission
Addis Ababa,
ETHIOPIA   

                                                 

Dear Dr. Dlamini-Zuma,

There is a discernible shift in attitude among ordinary citizens across our continent, specifically concerning the current state of African governance that relates to the new trend employed by some African Heads of State, of changing the rules midstream, in a blatant attempt at extending their stay in power for an indefinite period of time.  Every effort must be made by the African Union in collaborations with regional political organizations to stop this trend from becoming a permanent and acceptable fixture in the African political landscape.

Surveys conducted by the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [ICPSR] support the existence of a clear trend in, and a growing impatience with, African leaders who perpetuate themselves in power - a trend that can only threaten the peace and stability in those countries where the problem is more pronounced i.e. in countries where current leaders have already spent 10 years and more in power.

Generally, these countries are where there are no constitutional provisions to the effect.  And in countries where term limits exist, it didn't prevent the immediate past president and the current president of Burkina Faso and Burundi respectively, from attempting to change the electoral provisions with varying degrees of success.

In both cases, a lesson learned in tampering with the Constitution or applying a convenient and self-serving interpretation of the Constitution is the idea is not a very good one, and as president Barack Obama said, "it risks instability and strife" not only nationally but regionally.

The American president's recent visit to the AU headquarters offered you, Your Excellency, the opportunity to take the lead, and set the tone, for a conversation with African Leaders in general and those category of leadership who have been in power for over twenty years and above, in particular, that will allow them to gracefully relinquish power.

As a Gambian, I am respectfully recommending that President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia be among those Heads of State who must not be encouraged to remain in power beyond their current mandate.  In the case of the Gambian president that should be in October/November 2016.

We are pleased to note that ECOWAS has already taken the lead by proposing a presidential term limit for its Member States.  Fourteen of sixteen of the regional organization's Members supported the proposal.  The Gambia and Togo were the two Member State that opposed to the idea which, though unsuccessful, was a significant first step under the Chairmanship of President John Mahama of Ghana.

We would encourage the African Union to collaborate with the current Chairman of ECOWAS, president Macky Sall of Senegal, who, we hope, will try a second time, in an attempt to get a consensus on the issue.

Meanwhile, we trust, under your leadership, the African Union, will take the necessary steps to (i) lend support to the ECOWAS Initiative on term limits and (ii) start the conversation with countries that do not have presidential term limit provision with the view to embracing term limits as the new norms. Ordinary Africans are yearning for the change that is long overdue.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.


Yours sincerely



Sidi M. Sanneh
On behalf of Gambian dissidents everywhere


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More evidence emerge that Jammeh's prisoner pardon is a propaganda ploy

Yaya Jammeh at Arch 22 in July 2015
Over the weekend, and after the release of some of the "pardoned" prisoners by the Gambian dictator, the Office of the President issued a short, misleading and highly self-serving press release "informing the general public that all those convicted before July 1994 during the P.P.P regime have also been duly pardoned by His Excellency the President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa", end of quote.

But who are these so-called pre-July 1994 prisoners and what were the specifics of their cases including the circumstances surrounding their incarceration.

It is important to note that the total number of prisoners affected by this presidential action is three, namely Omar Manjang, Lamin Fatty and a third person - whose name is unavailable as we go to press -  all police officers stationed in Brikama.   They were accused of torturing to death a suspect in Brikama, and subsequently sentenced to 3 years in prison.

The government appealed the conviction because the prosecution argued that it was a case of murder and not manslaughter.  The Appeals Courts later found them guilty as charged and they were sentenced to death, a sentence later commuted to life.  This was in 1992/93.  So the three were in prison for only several months before Yaya Jammeh and his band of misfits seized power illegally the following year.  This case was a subject of the U.S. State Department's Human Rights Report of 1992/93.

For the next 21 years, these three policemen where locked up in Mile II under the watchful eye of Yaya Jammeh.  Simply going by the press release, it gives the general public the impression that these so-called pre-1994 were numerous in number and that they have been in jail for the better part of the 30-year administration of  Sir Dawda Jawara when the opposite is the truth.

The three have been in Mile II only for several months under Jawara and the rest of the 21 years under Jammeh who could have released them, as he has done in the cases of Musa Sanneh and Amadou Badgie, both of whom were Kukoi Samba Sagnia men imprisoned on treason charges as a result of their involvement in the 1981 coup d'etat.  They were both sentenced to 20 years in 1988. There is also no proof that they are all alive and have been released.  The regime must show proof.

This is one more evidence that Jammeh and his regime are using the prisoner release as a propaganda tool to score points locally by their continued attempt to cast the Jawara administration in a bad light, with the hope of deflecting from their horrendous human rights record.  It is also a ploy designed to convince the donor community, particularly the European Union, into releasing the much needed development assistant funds to his financially bankrupt regime.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My interview with Radio France International on the recent "pardoned prisoner release


Please find below the sound cloud link to my my interview with Radio France International that was broadcast in the Gambia.  In case you missed it for whatever reason, here's a personal copy for you to listen to at your leisure.  Thank you

Sidi Sanneh



https://soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/former-gambia-foreign-minister-explains-economic-implications-of-jammehs-detainee-release?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=wtshare&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_content=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fradiofranceinternationale%2Fformer-gambia-foreign-minister-explains-economic-implications-of-jammehs-detainee-release

AN APPEAL to families of the "pardoned" prisoners

Sidi Sanneh 


Reports reaching us are suggesting, as in the cases of the 85 prisoners claimed to have been released, that, at least, one prominent "pardoned" prisoner has either been returned to or never was released from Mile II prisons in the first instance. 

Families and friends are urging us not to report on these developments, just yet.  While we understand the anxiety of living under a highly repressive regime that constantly threatens the well being of the citizenry, we cannot also sit on information that will keep Gambians and the rest the world informed of the human rights abuses going on in the country. 

We have just published a blog today demanding that Jammeh provides the world with a comprehensive list of ALL those he claimed to have been released and to have their names gazetted, among other demands.  It is for the very reason that many of these prisoners will be secretly whisked back into Mile II only to have them "disappear" providing the perfect alibi for the regime to claim that they have already been pardoned and released. 

The Jammeh regime is engaged in a highly dangerous game of deceit that will be aided, however inadvertently, by families refusing to cooperate with journalists and advocacy groups in their efforts to bring the Gambian story to the world.  Without the cooperation of families, friends and relatives of "pardoned" prisoners, our task will be more difficult than it already is. 

Jammeh MUST provide details of the "pardoned" prisoner release

Lt. Jammeh in 1994


The pardoning of two hundred and thirty four prisoners by one account and two hundred and something by the Minister of the Interior by another account is a significant pointer at what all is wrong with the prisoner pardon deal by the Jammeh regime.

The imprecision of the numbers of prisoners affected for such an important act of magnanimity, as Jammeh would like Gambians and the world to believe, could be a deliberate ploy designed to conceal critical information, such as prisoners actually murdered, executed or tortured that has never been made public. 

Or it could be another sincere act of incompetence.  The regime is known for both deviousness and ineptitude.  We have previously alluded to the fact that it could be a mixture of both. 

Gambians, including the opposition parties, need a host of information and declarative statements from the regime about the scheme but we will not know what is driving the prisoner release train until we start asking the correct questions and to demand more and untarnished information from Yaya Jammeh before we starting writing home about it.  

And here are just a few of the questions swirling in my head:

1. What prompted the regime to suddenly opt for the release of the prisoners as opposed to going with the implied threat issued a week before during his end of Ramadan speak to religious leaders when he suggested that he was seriously considering applying the law relating to murder.   The reason he cited was high murder rate since he extra-judicially executed nine death row prisoner in 2013, even though he did not show evidence to support his claim.  Caution:  Crime data in the Gambia suffer from a poor classification system and poor record keeping. 

From 1. above, we can begin to appreciate the ultimate objective of the prisoner release from the regime's standpoint.  We have cited the economics and the politics driving the train.  The regime may have a different point of view and if so, Gambians and the international community, especially the European Union and the United Nations would like to know.

2.  Why not a comprehensive list of names, DOB, addresses, crimes committed, classification (political vs criminal) and other relevant personal details not available to help in the accounting and identification of each and every prisoner.  Without an officially-sanctioned list with the personal details of every prisoner, there is no way proper accounting of those affected by the "pardon" scheme.

From 2. above, we can also begin to appreciate the importance of compiling a comprehensive list - an indispensable act of rudimentary accounting - for proper understanding of the purpose of the prisoner release scheme.

3.   Conditions attached to the prisoner pardon and their applicability to categories of prisoners.  In Jammeh's 21st Anniversary celebration pronouncement, those granted a pardon included an assortment of criminals that included rapists, murderers, at least one South American drug kingpin and small time drug peddlers, petty thieves and simple common criminals. Sprinkled among these are few civilians who could be considered as political prisoners, namely those wrongly implicated in the 2006 attempted (Ndure Cham's) coup d'etat.

The majority of those released are all military and security officers implicated in previous coup attempts which has led keen observers of the political scene to suggest that the release has more to do with Jammeh's attempt at shoring up a depleted  officer corps by recycling the released officers.

To confirm this fear, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba wasted little time in declaring his total and unconditional allegiance under his death to a single individual - never mind the flag and country - a sycophantic display of blind loyalty that guarantees him his old position back as Chief of Defense Staff as soon as he can nurse himself back to fitness.   These tinpot Generals will soon find their way back into a repressive system that continues to prey on defenseless Gambians.

Meanwhile, numerous political prisoners are still languishing in jails across the smallest country on the African continent.  Included among them is Mr. Amadou Sanneh. (no relation) who was railroaded into Mile II in 2014 because of the prominent position he holds in the leading opposition party - United Democratic Party - and someone touted as the preeminent successor to its current leader, has been conspicuously absent from the list of "pardoned" prisoners.  It is claimed in some quarters (despite his apparent ineligibility due to the arbitrary or deliberate cut-off date of 2013)  that his refusal to accept the conditions attached to his release - such as refraining from politics and not to speak ill of the Dear Leader -  that has led to his staying behind at Mile II.  True or false, his continued incarceration will continue to be a source of tension that will serve as a barometer as to whether a political rapprochement is possible.

4.  Full explanation and/or accounting of the whereabouts of the missing, especially  Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, two Gambian-Americans who disappeared while on a visit to their native Gambia.  Chief Ebrima Manneh, Kanjiba Kanji, and a host of other missing Gambian citizens must also be accounted for.

5.  The bodies of the nine executed prisoners in 2013 and those killed on 30th December 2014 must be released to their loved ones.  The families of these men (and a women) must have closure and without Jammeh releasing their bodies to them for proper burial.

6.  All official pronouncements to date and a comprehensive list of released prisoners must be gazetted in the Government Gazette as official notification of the General Public and concerned parties. 


    

Friday, July 24, 2015

The economics and the politics of the prisoner release

The Gambia is on the brink of a financial meltdown.  Thanks to the inappropriate policies of a dictatorship that is known more for its incompetence and high level corruption than prudent management of Gambia's fiscal and monetary affairs.

The country's import cover is estimated at less than two months cover which spells hardship for ordinary Gambians because basic staples like rice and flour will be in short supplies in the weeks and months ahead.

An under-performing agriculture sector, the main foreign exchange earner can only add to the problems of a contracting economy that is registering the highest youth unemployment - a major constituent of the regime - in the 21-year history of the regime.

Fiscal indiscipline is the primary cause of the macroeconomic imbalances that have plagued the Gambian economy for close to a decade, attested to by numerous IMF mission reports warning government of out-of-control spending.

Government's refusal to heed the warnings led to the ballooning of the domestic debt beyond sustainable levels which eventually led to the Fund proposing a "voluntary" staff monitored program (SMP) in exchange for a bail out, effectively putting The Gambia on a short leash.  Expenditures of a certain level will now have to be pre-approved from Fund headquarters in Washington.

The SMP did come at a steep cost to government because in exchange for the $ 10 million bail out loan from the Fund, they promised to live within their means, limiting domestic borrowing -  used to finance Jammeh's pet projects that will not pass muster with external donors -  to 1% of GDP from the pre-SMP levels that fluctuated between 5% - 10% of GDP.   2016 being an election year, it will be the biggest challenge the regime will face - assuming he runs - because it will not be able to borrow domestically to finance projects and other election-related expenditures from the public trough.  

The regime's money worries was made worse by the European Union's suspension of aid because of the country's poor human rights record where close to $ 36 million has been blocked contingent upon Gambia fulfilling the 17- points demands relating to improvements of its human right record.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission and its Rapporteurs who were denied access to the Mile II prison facilities resulted in a scathing report to the Commission that continues to call for substantive reforms of the penal system, the judiciary and the legislative agenda of the National Assembly among other vexing issues.

Indeed, speculation is rife that the pardoning of over two hundred prisoners - ongoing as we go to press - by Yaya Jammeh is directly linked to the demands of the EU and the UN Human Rights Commission.  By pardoning prisoners, most of whom are military personnel accused of trying to topple the regime, Jammeh is hoping the gesture would have earned him sufficient brownie points for the EU to release some of the development aid.

The release of the parents and relatives of the alleged attackers of State House on the 30th December is seen as relenting to international outcry over their incommunicado detention of women and children whose only crime was to have been related to the accused.

The decision of the EU to withhold development assistance did expose the soft underbelly of a regime that is famous for spewing anti-Western rhetoric that is, at the same time, dependent on the same West for its development program.  With the prisoner release, it is presumed it will free the Mile II prisons facilities, one of the worst in the world, for extensive renovation to humane standards.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gambia to pay Carnegie Minerals over US$ 22 million for breach of contract

Astron/Carnegie, the Australian mining giant has, in a company news release announced that the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has awarded damages in its favor.  Carnegie (Gambia) Ltd took The Gambia government to arbitration in 2008 for breach of contract.

For background information leading up to the decision by the ICSID, check hereand here.  You may also want to check this blog, as well, for a complete picture of the story which will end up costing The Gambia several more million before it is all over with.

Total damages awarded to Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd, a subsidiary of Astron/Carnegie of Australia is in the region of US $ 22 million of which about $ 18 million is for breach of the mining licence by Yaya Jammeh, plus interest and arbitration costs of roughly US$ 1.5 million.

According to the Astron/Carnegie release, there is an expiry date by which a party must lodge an appeal.  It is uncertain how long the Jammeh regime has to lodge an appeal, if the government will pursue the option.  If not, the execution of the ICSID judgement which will certainly bankrupt an already financially distressed regime.

As regards Astron/Carnegie, it says in its release that "Astron will consider its options for enforcing the judgement against the Gambian government,"

One more reason why the Jammeh regime MUST GO and NOW.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

A heavily guarded Jammeh 
According to FatuRadio, relatives of those accused of the 30th December 2014 attack on State House have been released.  The news is welcomed, and long overdue. 

However, outstanding matters relating to the event must be addressed.  The bodies of the fallen must be released without delay to loved ones for burial.  It is the decent and Islamic thing to do.

That said, the regime still has a long way to go to redress the numerous wrongs inflicted on an innocent and defenseless population. 

Twenty one years of torture, forced disappearances, killings, maiming, forced exiles and extra-judicial killings MUST STOP.  The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) must be disbanded immediately and all torture chambers closed permanently.

The cases of the missing persons including but not limited to Chief Ebrima Manneh and Kanjiba Kanyi must be brought to a close.  The two Gambian-Americans namely Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe missing since 2013 in The Gambia must be accounted for by the regime.


Gambians have had it up to their ears with the nonsense of a regime that is the worst the Gambia has ever witnessed.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Former junta spokesman takes credit for prisoner pardons, says source

Ebou Jallow 
The erstwhile spokesman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council's (AFPRC), Ebou Jallow, is taking credit for the prisoner pardons issued by Yaya Jammeh in conjunction with the 21st Anniversary celebrations of the illegal coup d'etat that ousted Sir Dawda Jawara and his government from power, according to our source.

The former spokesperson who fell from grace with the AFPRC over claims that he fled with $ 3 million that was meant for Jammeh is quoted by friends that he is now advising Jammeh on how to gain the political support of the dissident communities abroad, especially those resident in the United States.

Mr. Jallow has been recently "pardoned" by Jammeh - a rapprochement reportedly brokered by staff of the Gambian Embassy in Washington attempted several years ago to mend fences with Jammeh without much success.  Also pardoned at the same period was Mr. Samsudeen Sarr, a former colonel in the Gambian army.  Mr. Sarr is reportedly now a Deputy Mission Chief at the Gambia's  United Nations Mission.

Families of prominent members of the exiled community abroad are being earmarked for a visit by a regime's delegation to apply pressure on dissidents abroad.  The delegation to visit parents and relatives of diaspora opponents of the regime is being led by Lamin Kaba Bajo whom Ebou Jallow claims he recommended to Jammeh to head the campaign.

Insinuations have been made in the recent past about some prominent members of the exile community opposed to the regime are about to be "pardoned" which led to some acrimonious reaction and vehement denials from one of Jammeh's ferocious, dependable and reliable foes. ...

This is a developing story


We shall never relent

While we welcome the prisoner pardons by the Gambian dictator as part of the observance of the 21-year anniversary of the coup, we will never be appeased by what amounts to a calculated move to deflect an opposition force being exerted from the exile communities abroad.   

By pardoning certain categories of prisoners without consultations with the relevant branches of government, Jammeh is throwing a lifeline at Yaya Jammeh and his out-of-touch regime as an act of desperation.  Jammeh is doing himself a favor by this, and similar acts of magnanimity to save his own neck.   

As one Gambian just in-boxed me, "you guys have cornered him" and "he's trying to let off steam."  The same Gambian further questioned Jammeh's motives and asked the whereabouts of numerous other Gambians missing and unaccounted for or are known to be held in incommunicado.  

Two Gambian-Americans Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe have gone missing in the Gambia for over two years without trace and under the most bizarre of circumstance.  You can find their story here.   

Other victims of the regime known to be held in incommunicado parents and other relatives of the 30th December 2014 alleged attackers of State House are still in custody.  Ya Metta Njie, the mother of Lt. Col. Lamin Sanneh, one of the alleged coup leaders, the parents of Dawda Bojang and the son of Bai Lowe are among those still in custody whose only crime is they are related to the accused coup plotters.  

The pardoning of members of the exile communities abroad is just another sinister attempt to fragment the external opposition to a vile, incompetent and corrupt regime - an attempt that will fail.  If anything, it will only strengthen the resolve of the genuine opponents by separating the wheat from the chaff.  The faint hearted will take the bait and return to Banjul.  We say to them - good riddance.  

The online and social media opposition to the dictatorship will only intensify.  Our opposition to the Jammeh regime will be intensified and coordinated - with, of course, the usual distractions from the usual suspects.  

We shall never relent until we remove Jammeh from power and have him tried in a court of law for crimes against the State and against the citizenry.

For those who are ecstatic about the announcement, please consider this: it was only last Friday that Jammeh issued a warning that he might resume the execution of prisoners on death row.  What changed in less than a week?   Nothing.  What Jammeh has done is to ramp up the threat of execution to gain the attention of the international community only to announce the pardons for maximum impact.  In my interview with Reuters a few days ago, I said that the threats of resumption of executions were just that - threats with no intention of Jammeh carrying them out.  If anything, our opposition to the dictatorship continues with renewed vigor and determination. 
      

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why has Hussein Tajudeen not returned to Banjul after second "pardon" from Jammeh

Hussein Tajudeen
Hussein Tajudeen the Lebanese-Gambian business tycoon who was expelled from The Gambia first in June 2013 and then again last month by the government of Yaya Jammeh has been "pardoned" for the second time last 27th June.  He was expelled the first time around for selling expired chicken legs, according to the official announcement

The multi-millionaire businessman had been ordered to leave the country in early June for "unacceptable business practices that are detrimental to the Gambian economy," according to the press release from State House - an expulsion the regime announced last month that it has been "rescinded".

The announcement claimed that Mr. Tajudeen had agreed to carry out its business legally. But since then, the Lebanese-Gambian businessman, a close business associate of the Gambian dictator has not returned to The Gambia.

As the leading importer of rice, sugar and flour and distributor through its Kairaba Supermarket chain, Jammeh and his regime depend exclusively on Tajco, the flagship company, for the supply of these basic food items.

Without Tajco, the regime of Yaya Jammeh will be in serious trouble because there is no business entity in The Gambia with the financial capacity to fill the void should Mr. Tajudeen stop its operation in The Gambia.

The reason why the owner of Tajco is not back in Banjul may be because of the outstanding amounts of monies owed to him by the Gambia dictator who has relied exclusively on Mr. Tajudeen for the supplies of sugar, rice and flour which he distributes to supporters of his political party, free of charge.

The problem worsened to the point that Tajudeen used another Lebanese-owned business called A - Z company to order on his behalf.  The company encountered similar problems of non-payment of purchases made by Jammeh.  Faced with potential bankruptcy, one of the partners who authorized Jammeh's "purchases" sold his shares to his partner and  A-Z company was renamed REED Company.

The government continues to depend on Hussein Tajudeen, despite the accusation of being a supporter Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based terror group, extends far beyond the person of Jammeh to engulf The Gambia Revenue Agency (GRA) which is government's revenue-collection agency.  Faced with a huge budget deficit that is regularly financed by domestic borrowing, it turns out that the GRA has been forcing the Lebanese-Gambian multi-millionaire to pay its custom duties and excise in advance of actual consignments landed at the Banjul port in order to meet its revenue collection targets.

The estimated outstanding amount of money owed by the government is put at D 70,000,000 and this figure is said not to include the amounts owed by Jammeh which explains why the businessman is not in any hurry to return to Banjul.  After being expelled twice, he wants to ensure that doing business with Jammeh going forward will be on different terms and that a repayment plan on outstanding monies owed him by both the GRA and Jammeh is agreed upon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

It's called sustainability, stupid - UPDATED

Jammeh addressing Agriculture Ministry personnel 
The Gambian dictator convened a meeting of senior staff of the Agriculture Ministry to express his wonderment at why projects slow to a halt once external funding dries up.

This is was is called sustainability, stupid. When projects are designed, it is as much the responsibility of the recipient as it is the donor's to ensure that the project is sustainable after external resources stop flowing.  Blame the problem on poor project design and not on the attitude or competence of those responsible for implementing the project.

The Finance Minister should take a chunk of the blame because he is the leader of the delegation that negotiated and signed all these loans on behalf of the government.  During loan negotiations, these deficiencies in project design should be highlighted and mitigating measures proposed to allow for mid-stream adjustment to the project.

Donors as well as local officials who participated in  the project formulation process should all share in the responsibility of designing a project that is unsustainable because local resources are either not available or diverted, as it typical of this regime, to other sectors of the economy, like the security forces.  It was only yesterday that 20 new vehicles were "donated" by the Benevolent Leader to the Gambia Armed Forces instead of directing the financial resources to the agriculture or social sectors. All of this to guarantee his stay in power beyond his 22-year stint.
 
Jammeh also used the occasion to blame an already embattled staff who have seen their ranks decimated by accusations, arrests and criminal charges leveled against senior administrative and project staff blamed with the malaise that bedevils the single most important sector of the country's economy.

Morale is at its lowest ebb eve reflective of a sector that is rudderless and this lack direction because of the constant interference and persecution of staff for purely political reasons.  Imagine staff being charged with economic crime for recommending a staff member to a donor - in this case the African Development Bank -  in an acting capacity as Project Manager until a substantive PM is appointed. This is how upsurged the entire witch hunting exercise of this regime has become.

Jammeh conveniently ignores the fact that he has been Agriculture Minister for most of the 22 years he's been in power thus overseeing the decline of a sector that employs 70% of Gambians and or approximately responsible for approximately  20% of GDP.  By assuming the post for the umpteenth time, Jammeh will be guaranteeing a more rapid decline of am already struggling sector.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

National Assembly members cannot defend electoral reform vote in Assembly resort to insults

Alhagie Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North 
Alhagie Sillah, a member of the rubber-stamp National Assembly, was one of it's members who resorted to insulting the mother of a FatouRadio presenter in the person of MamaLinguere Sarr for simply asking the parliamentarian - a title we are using grudgingly - to defend his vote in favor of the so-called electoral reform bill.

He justified his vote in support of the bill by saying in the vernacular that he was not the only who voted for the bill, followed by insults.  

All of the ruling party members obviously voted for one of the most sinister bills to ever pass the National Assembly, yet not a single one is competent to provide any comprehensible response to their vote that is against the interest of both the opposition as well as future candidates of the ruling party.

Babou Gaye Sonko, nominated member and youth mobilizer of the ruling party views all those who oppose the bill are "enemies of the state".

One common thread runs through all of these half-baked MPs is defensiveness of their responses to simple and straightforward questions  They all refuse to respond to any question relating to their functions as representatives of the people.

Alhagie Sillah, National Assembly Member, representing Banjul North who resorted to vile behavior by insulting the online radio host who was demanding from her representatives in the National Assembly is a depiction of the low caliber of membership of a once august Assembly.  These are the lowest of the low that Jammeh has assembled to represent Gambians.  Shame on them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Miss July 22nd was prisoner in her own compound

Landing Jammeh - The Taxi Man 
Landing Jammeh after grocery shopping for Fatou




















Landing Jammeh, brother to the Gambian dictator is an accessory to holding Fatou Jallow against her will for several months.

At the direction of Jammeh, an armed military personnel was posted at the living quarters of the former Miss July 22nd beauty queen, separating her from her parents section of the compound thus denying them access to their daughter.

She was rendered a prisoner in her own Old Yundum compound where visitors were turned away.

Landing Jammeh was permanently assigned to drive Fatou Jallow around town to shop and to visit State House whenever Jammeh desires to see the young girl. Apart from serving as driver, Landing ensured that no one has access to the young lady's room by the security measures he employed at the direction of Yaya Jammeh.

As we reported yesterday, the police story that Fatou Jallow was last seen driven off in a taxi is a fabrication by the police.  The young lady was never allowed to ride in a taxi, and her access to the outside world, including access to her own parents, was severely restricted.

We wonder how many Miss. July 22nd winners and other beauty pageant queens have been abused in the way and manner that Fatou Jallow was sexually abused over several months in captivity by a regime that preys on young girls in such humiliating and criminal manner.  

Jammeh is not the owner culprit.  His regime has systematically used this, and similar type of sexual abuse and enslavement of young girls of some cabinet ministers, particularly the Minister of Interior.

We will continue to follow this and similar stories as and when time allows.....  Developing


Monday, July 6, 2015

The case of Fatou Jallow and the "taxi driver"

Landing Jammeh


Brusubi luxury villas









































The police have opened up a case file for Fatou Jallow who cannot be accounted for by the police.  Ms. Jallow was the crowned Miss 22nd July in 2014.   In trying to obscure the facts to protect Jammeh who preys on young and under-age girls, the police is concocting spurious charges against family and friends of Fatou Jallow.

The police is alleging that Fatou Jallow went to the market and never returned.  She was last seen, according to the police, being driven in a taxi.  Perhaps the police should ask Landing Jammeh, a brother to Yaya Jammeh, who has been the driver assigned to transporting Fatou Jallow to and from her residence in Old Yundum to State House.

Fatou Jallow was a student at the Gambia College.  Her fiance was also a student who had to abandon his education after he was so severely beaten by members of the Jammeh security forces that he had to flee to a neighboring country, weeks before Fatou's "disappearance". Developing...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Large scale gas resource potential in the Mauritania-Senegal-Gambia-Guinea Bissau Basin

Cairn is one of Europe's leading independent oil and gas exploration and development companies, according the companies website.  It has been the leading petroleum company also exploring and eventually developing the Senegal Basin.

The Edison Investment Research website suggests that following the back-to-back oil discoveries along the Senegal Basin in 2014 have opened up a new basin in the Atlantic.

The Cairn SEN-1 well (in Senegal) was one of the largest discoveries in the world in 2014, thus encouraging the company to extend its exploration efforts to cover three additional wells that are being scheduled for exploration and appraisal shortly.

It is important to note is that what is commonly referred to in the petroleum literature as the Senegal Basin extends far beyond its economic zone to extend northward to Mauritania and southward to include the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau referred to as the Mauritania-Senegal-Gambia-Guinea Bissau Basin (MSGBC).

Kosmos Energy, a Dallas-based, company announced in April 2014 that it has made a significant gas discovery that the company CEO described as "a large scale gas resource."  This discovery further highlights the potential of the region that also includes The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.

With Cairn in Senegal and Cosmos in Mauritania, the Gambia has smaller players that includes African Petroleum.  Apart from contract cancellations and threats of international arbitration, little is known of the contracts between these companies and the government of Yaya Jammeh who has deliberately kept the Gambian people in the dark.

By contrast, Cairn's relations with Senegal has been open and appears transparent enough to glean details of the association and the company's activities.  The company's website touts its ethos of acting "with respect - for people and their communities, the environment, the rule of law and human rights."

The information flow between African Petroleum and the Jammeh regime is non-existent.  It is even doubtful whether there has been any Bill brought before the National Assembly that provides the legal framework for the petroleum prospecting, exploration and development currently in the pipeline.

The relationship has been opaque at best thus encouraging speculation.  Waving a CD before a national television audience, and dealing with the Secretary General and the Permanent Secretary all within the Presidency, will not suffice.  It is no coincidence, therefore that most of the previous occupants o these two posts have landed into trouble with Yaya Jammeh.  The latest victim is the Permanent Secretary at the Petroleum Ministry, facing charges of theft and insubordination.

What Gambians need going forward is an open transparent process governing the activities of the Office of the President and the Ministry of Petroleum regarding all of the companies involved and the contracts entered into in the name of the Gambian people.  A Bill must be brought before the National Assembly proposing a legal framework, including but not limited to the establishment and management of a Sovereign Fund similar to the Norwegian Fund to inoculate ourselves from the "resource curse" that has inflicted African countries like Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Jammeh's mishandling of the petroleum sector, and his negotiating strategy is unclear, arbitrary and amateurish in our view.  For example, the African Petroleum contract with the Gambia is the only contract the company has entered into with 100% of the risk assumed by the company, whereas all other countries - Senegal, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire - where African Petroleum operate, the formula has been 90% /10% which is the industry standard.

It is time that other Ministries and Departments are invited to be an integral part of, and actively supervising, the entire process.  It can no longer be left to the desires of a single individual with a Minister and a Permanent Secretary who act on instructions of Jammeh as the expense of everyone else.  The natural resource endowment of the Gambia belongs to current and future generation of Gambians yet unborn which must, therefore, be properly and transparently managed on their behalf.

How many Lama Jallows are among the 85 'pardoned' prisoners?

The late Lama Jallow
Lama Jallow died last week in Mile II prisons, and his body handed over to the family for burial and yet his name was among the 85 prisoners pardoned by the Gambian dictator.
This, according to Ahmad Gitteh who was Mr. Jallow's neighbor for ten years.

Mile II is a prison recognized as one of the world's worst.

Mr. Gitteh further revealed in his Facebook page that Lama Jallow died under mysterious circumstances.  And in a country where autopsies are rarely performed on bodies of dead prisoners or others under the custody of the brutal security forces of the dictatorship, he was buried with the secretes of what killed him.

Despite being dead and buried last week, Lama Jallow's name was among the 85 prisoners 'pardoned' by the Gambian dictator.

"Most of those are in their youth sand hence His Excellency's intent to foster their rehabilitation into self reliant and law abiding citizens" according to the news relayed on state-controlled television.  How can a dead and buried man rehabilitated into self-reliant and law abiding?  By including his name in the list of the released,  Jammeh has one less human life wasted that he has to account for.

How many more Lama Jallows are among the list of 85 prisoners?  The list will be closely studied to see if there are anymore "ghosts" prisoners on the list who have died before the list was released yesterday but are nonetheless listed as pardoned inmates.

    

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

We are frustrated !!

O.J and Ousainou Darboe
Supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP), at least those active in the online radio circuit, are quick to remind anyone who cares to listen that they are the biggest opposition party, and they are right.

We did not stop at acknowledging an obvious fact because it adds nothing to the debate.  We took it a step further by proposing that Ousainou Darboe and Omar Jallow (O.J.) come together for the purpose of forming a union of two opposition parties "in anticipation of the inevitable", as we put it back on the 22nd September 2013.

In the same blog post entitled "UDP and PPP must now look inward", the euphoric opening paragraph reflects the mood of the day following, what many considered to be, a successful meeting of opposition leaders in Raleigh.  We opined at the time, with glee, the inevitability of a regime change because of the apparent coming together of the parties.

It has been approximately two years since the idea of getting the two parties together was first mooted.  So, we were surprised at a lame attempt by an opposition supporter expressing disappointment that the idea of getting the UDP and the PPP form a unified opposition; and they must support the idea unequivocally and unconditionally.

We must point out that the PPP has made such an unequivocal and unconditional statement.  All what we get from the UDP to date is deafening silence.  It is our view that leadership expected of the UDP has been wanting, especially from the biggest single opposition party.

To list the reasons why we need a United Front would be a redundant exercise because most, if not all, Gambians recognize that political infrastructure Jammeh has built cannot be defeated by any single opposition party.  It will take a collective effort.

The continued inaction of the opposition and what appears to be a refusal to listen to calls from the exile and dissident communities abroad has taken its toll to a breaking point.  Some of us cannot help but feel that we are being treated with contempt that we do not deserve.

We at sidisanneh.blockspot.com are ready to call it a day.  In fact, we already had called it quits on our Facebook post today.  However, after consulting with a senior and highly regarded member of the opposition, we have decided to give whatever process is currently place some time, but as the same member said "this time, it will be weeks, not months" for the opposition to get its act together.   We are frustrated.