Friday, November 3, 2017

#OccupyWestfield protest postponed pending further discussions with authorities, says protest leader

Alieu Bah, Leader of #OccupyWestfield  
On the phone to Banjul, Mr. Alieu Bah, the leader of the #OccupyWestfield confirmed that a meeting took place today between his protest group and government officials to discuss the stalemate caused by the recent decision of the Inspector General of Police to deny them permit to protest the persistent lack of electricity. 

According to Mr. Bah, who was accompanied by approximately a dozen of his #OccupyWestfield group, they met with the Interior Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty, the IGP, President Barrow's Security Adviser, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Managing Director of NAWEC, the Manager of Corporate Affairs of NAWEC and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior.

The Interior Minister reaffirmed government's position that the group's request for a permit to protest next Sunday was denied due to security reasons given that the recent emergence of the country from decades of brutal dictatorship has left the security of the country in a precarious state.  It is the view of government that every effort must be made and every precaution taken to preserve the delicate balance between the rights of every Gambian to free assembly and the rights of every within Gambia's borders to be guaranteed of their individual safety or safety of person.

The meeting was characterized by Mr. Bah as amicable and as a result, the request by the Interior Minister for another meeting scheduled for next week Wednesday was confirmed and agreed to by both parties. 

When asked what is the purpose of next Wednesday's meeting, Mr. Bah refused to speculate but reaffirmed his group's determination to still proceed with the protest regardless of the outcome of the next meeting because, according to him, Gambians earned the right, as a free people, to publicly display their grievances in a peaceful manner. 

Peaceful protest is considered by the #OccupyWestfield as an earned, under the new political dispensation, they will not willingly forfeit. To do otherwise would tantamount to abdication of their responsibilities as good citizens and strong believers in and advocates of democracy and the rule of law.