Sunday, May 19, 2019

Madam Attorney General, please resign (Re-publication)

This is a republication of a blog post first published
exactly three years ago today 19th May, 2016.  So it
incorrect to say that I was picking on Ba Tambadou
the current Ag and Minister of Justice.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Mama Fatima Singhateh, Attorney General and Minister of Justice 
The political turmoil that besets the country could have been averted if there were principled and courageous leadership within the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Unfortunately, the legal office of the regime lacks both leadership and direction. Instead, the Attorney General elects to have her office run from Kanilai village and not from Marina Parade in Banjul.

When Ousianou Darboe was arrested and thrown behind the police van, together with dozens of his party executives and supporters for simply exercising their inherent right under law, and subsequently charged with inciting violence, rioting and other trumped-up charges, the Attorney General could not follow the law because she allowed herself to be dictated to by Yaya Jammeh.

Together with her Director of Public Prosecution, S. H. Barkum - who should also resign and return to Nigeria - they concocted frivolous charges they hung around the necks of innocent persons at the instructions of Yaya Jammeh who has effectively used the judiciary as a potent weapon against his real and perceived political enemies and the competition in the private sector.

At a recently held meeting at the Justice Ministry in which both the Chief Justice and the Solicitor General (who also ended up being fired), the Attorney General was advised to drop all charges against ALL protester demonstrators, including, of course Ousainou Darboe.  She wasn't having none of it because she doesn't have the courage to face Jammeh with the right advise that the charges were frivolous and Ousainou and co should be freed.

The same sentiments - that these men and women are innocent - were expressed by Justice Ottaba who was assigned the case in an online radio interview. In fact, he editorialized that to treat Ousainou in the manner that Gambians witnessed, and a senior member of the Bar, at that, was "embarrassing"and he suggested a political solution to what he saw, and correctly so, as a purely political matter.

Justice Ottaba did the right thing by recusing himself from the case and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice did the wrong thing again.  Missing yet another opportunity of redeeming herself, she continues to press on with a case that any lawyer worth his or her salt knows these are trumped-up charges to please Yaya Jammeh.

Most of those arrested have suffered not only injustices in the form of false charges, most have suffered physical violence at the hands of the security personnel.  Solo Sandeng has lost his life which the regime is denying even though neither the Attorney General and Minister of Justice nor the Interior Ministry can produce evidence to the contrary.  This regime continues to lie and the Attorney General continue to help in the concealment of the truth.

Fatomatta Jawara, Nogoi Njie and Fatou Camara were all tortured.  Some, if not all, were allegedly raped.  When they appeared in court for the first time a couple of weeks ago, all three showed visible signs of torture.  As we speak a husband and wife and their 4-week old baby are all in remand and have been denied bail.  Despite all this, Mama Fatima Singhateh, whom we presume is also a mother, is still blind to the fact that Gambians are being abused, their human rights trampled upon, beaten, sexually assaulted by Yankuba Badjie's torturers, killed and maimed.

What will it take, Mama?  What will it take?  I think we have reached a point where the honorable thing for you to do is to resign.  I am sorry to be saying this because I know you are better than that but, from my vantage point, you are an utter disgrace to Gambians at home and abroad.

Yaya Jammeh is not worth it.  R-E-S-I-G-N

Friday, May 10, 2019

Who owns the assets of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd and who is benefiting?

A December 10th, 2015 post,  A republication.
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Hon. Samba Jallow, NRP
The subject of our immediate past blog post which you can find here concerned the issue of the treatment of the proceeds of the mining sector in the 2016 Budget proposals that is before the National Assembly - a question raised by Hon. Samba Jallow who is Minority Leader and Member of the National Reconciliation Party.

The Minority Leader's contention is that the mining sector generates revenue and yet there is nowhere in the budget that reflects this fact.

The Assembly Member also raised other issues, including salary increase for cabinet ministers and questions about the agriculture sector which he feels has been neglected by the regime of Yaya Jammeh.

In response to the Assembly Member's question, the Finance Minister denied that there has been salary increases for cabinet ministers.  He also assured the National Assembly that the "government through the Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC) provided adequate funding for the purchase of farmer's nuts" without being specific about the year he's referencing.  It must also be noted that GGC is now part of a new entity named National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation.

However, the Minister of Finance failed to respond to the Minority Leader's primary concern about the omission of mining sector in the budget proposal.  Failure to address the Assembly Member's concern about the mining sector suggests that the minister is concealing something from the Gambian people. We are, therefore, rephrasing Hon. Samba Jallow's question : Who owns the assets of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd., who is benefiting and why it is not featured in the 2016 Draft Budget Estimates.

Revenue from mining not reflected in 2016 budget, claims opposition National Assembly Member? -- Re-publication

Republication of an issue that still needs answers,
first published in December 10th, 2015 and still relevant
----------------------------------------------------------

Finance Minister Abdou Kolley
Hon. Samba Jallow, NRP
Hon. Samba Jallow, the National Reconstruction Party's Member of the National Assembly revealed in a newspaper interview that although the mining sector "is a revenue earning source, it could not be found in the budget" and he wants to know why from the Minister of Finance who tabled the 2015 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly.

As far was we can tell, The Gambia, under the dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh has entered into one known mining contract with an Australian-based firm which has ended in arbitration.  The Carnegie Mineral (Gambia) Limited took its case to the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investments Disputes (ICSID) in Washington for breach of contract which ruled in Carnegie's favor by awarding it approximate $ 22 million in damages plus cost.  The Gambia is appealing the decision.

All of the information used in this blog and previous blogs came not from the government of the Gambia but from either the parent company of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd or the ICSID sources.  It is therefore not a surprise that a Member of The Gambian National Assembly is demanding transparency from a regime - including the Joint Parliamentary Committee PAC/PEC - that claims to be transparent.

The regime is obviously sitting on information that Gambians are entitled to.  Although Carnegie Mineral has been expelled from the Gambian and its assets seized by government, mining operations still continue in numerous sites.  The question is who owns the assets and how are the proceeds from the mining operations treated in the budget.  Are the assets owned and operated by government or have ownership been transferred to an entity owned by Yaya Jammeh?

In addition to the heavy metal mining activities, the sand mining operations, like the petroleum sector, are also shrouded in secrecy.  Are the owned by government or private concerns and how are proceed from these operations treated in the budget?  The National Assembly Member deserves an answer and so do Gambians in general on the mining sector.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Editorial: We prefer civility and goodwill to acrimony and vengeance

We first publish this editorial on 26th December, 2016
which we wish to share with our new readers.
---------------------------

Sidi Sanneh 
At this critical point in our politics, persons wishing to join the progressive forces of positive political change must be encouraged.  In particular, former APRC officials, supporters and ordinary citizens ready and willing to add their voices to those of us asking Jammeh to step down must be embraced.  We must bring as many of them into the fold as we possibly can prior to the 18th January deadline.  Jammeh's refusal will inevitably lead to the loss of life, as well as destruction of property which we must try to avoid.

Our immediate goal as a country, therefore, should be to do everything humanly possible to avert military intervention that can only set us back even further than necessary.

The 22-year record the Jammeh regime will be bequeathing the next generation of Gambians is a challenge of herculean proportion that will require a conducive business and political environment to successfully address these difficult challenges.  Peaceful and orderly transfer of power must, therefore, be the main preoccupation of not only the incoming administration but of every Gambian.  And Jammeh is the main obstacle to achieving this goal.

We can only measure up to the challenges confronting us in these consequential moments if our parochial and/or partisan instincts are in check to prevent them from clouding our judgment. Jammeh's 22-year presidency has so negatively and profoundly transformed Gambian society that nearly every aspect of the social fabric holding our communities together is fractured and can disentangle, threatening the social cohesion Jammeh inherited when he seized power in 1994.

If we fail, it will be catastrophic for a country that once prides itself of having pulled itself by the bootstrap from the status of an "improbable nation" to one that held great hope and promise among the community of nations.  We must restore our lost national pride by first coming to terms with the magnitude of the problem we will be inheriting from the 22-year dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh.

In moving forward, we must do so in civility and goodwill and not in acrimony and vengeance.  We fought Yaya Jammeh to return the rule of law and the reestablishment of our civil liberties guaranteed under law.  These guaranteed rights etched in our Constitution apply to every Gambian and non-Gambian alike, without exemption,

While appealing to our compassionate senses of fair play, we want to make clear that we are not advocating immunity from the law for anyone because no one is above the law and that applies to Amadou Samba and any other Gambian businessman or businesswoman who've had business dealings with Yaya Jammeh.  In an environment where the rule of law prevails, every Gambian is entitled to his or her day in a regular court of law and Mr. Samba is no exception.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Jammeh admits Solo Sandeng died in his custody and said let Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International "go to hell."

Re-publication of a blog post first published
on May 30th, 2016
------------------------------------------

Jammeh during the 2011 presidential elections day 
Yaya Jammeh has admitted in a Jeune Afrique magazine interview that Solo Sandeng, the opposition United Democratic Party's youth leader, died while in the custody of his notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

After weeks of denials from his ministers and supporters, both at home and abroad, while accusing his opponents of falsely reporting Mr. Sandeng's death to tarnish the image of his regime.

Reacting to both the United Nations Office of Human Rights and Amnesty International's call for an impartial and thorough investigation of the death in custody of all those thought to have been tortured to death while in the custody of the NIA, Jammeh was quoted as saying " I don;t see the point", referring to the calls for independent investigations.  He continued "people die in custody or during interrogations, its really common."

The callousness of one of Africa's most brutal tyrant was in full display when he wonder why all the fuss from the international community, particularly from the United Nation's and Amnesty International, when, in Jammeh's deranged mind " [T]his time, there is only one dead and they want an investigation?  I will not," declared Jammeh.   In fact, according to Jeune Afrique, Jammeh was quoted as saying "both Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International can go to hell."

Amnesty International is expected t release its report on the human rights condition in the Gambia on the eve of the Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State scheduled to take place in Dakar this weekend. Human rights activists are also converging in Dakar for an International Civil Society Forum on The Gambia to create a common framework and to project a common position in promoting human rights and the rule of law in The Gambia.


What is behind Darboe's bail appeal adjournment - Re-publication

This is a re-publication of an issue first published
on 30th May, 2016.
----------------------------------------
Ousainou Darboe 
It has not been a good year for Yaya Jammeh so far.  The borders between The Gambia and Senegal have been closed from mid-February to last week, bringing to a close what ended up being a three-month stand-off.

To add to Jammeh's woes, the month-long protest demonstrations by the opposition United Democratic Party of Ousainou Darboe that threatened Jammeh's faltering regime.

The death in custody of Solo Sandeng which the regime denied but later admitted by Jammeh in a Jeune Afrique interview, led Ousinadou Darboe to lead his own protest against the deaths, tortures and the arrests of dozens of members f the opposition and its supporters.  The recently passed electoral laws designed to render many political parties ineffective to compete agisnt the ruling APRC have been the main reason for the demonstrations which were quelled by excessive use of force which led to a world-wide condemnation from the United States, the United Nations and European Union.

The violence against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators led the European Parliament to pass a strong resolution not only condemning the regime of Yaya Jammeh for excessive use of force but also proposed to its members state to consider targeted sanctions against key personnel of Jammeh's administration.  Other non-humanitarian sanctions were also recommended.

Jammeh also suffered defeat at the hands of ECOWAS when it decided to throw out Jammeh's complaint against Senegal over the birder closure when it was cited for non-observance of the regional body's protocol.  Jammeh failed to complete the process that would have rendered effective the transit protocol between Senegal and The Gambia.

The Jammeh regime has come under tremendous pressure and had opened itself to further international ridicule and outright scorn as a result of the unforced errors his incompetent regime has committed in the first half of the year.  Therefore, Jammeh needs some positive news to counter-balance all the negative and humiliating publicity that threatens his grip on power.  Enters the Ousianou Darbor case.

Jammeh has been heavily criticized, albeit privately, from his own judiciary that the case involving Ousianou Darboe and co is a one of heavy-handedness.   His Solicitor General advised that the state doesn't have a case against them, he ended up being fired.  The Chief Justice expressed similar sentiments, he was also fired only for his Attorney General and Minister of Justice to convince his to rescind the letter of dismissal - at least temporarily.   The last we heard, the Chief Justice has gone to his native Nigeria leaving the entire judiciary is more disarray.

Jammeh news some good news and he finds it in Ousainou Darboe case whose bail appeal was adjourned until 26th June to buy the dictator time.  What he plans on doing is to drag it up until the end of the Month of Ramadan when he will convene a big meeting of the Banjul Mullahs and the Supreme Islamic Council hypocrites when he will announce the "pardoning" of Ousainou and his supporters as a gesture of reconciliation.

This grandiose plan will sit well with his supporters but not with Ousainou or his supporters because the bigger problem - electoral reform - would not have been addressed by "pardoning" someone who should not have been arrested in the first place. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

An Open Letter to President Adama Barrow: Show political will and act on the OCCRP Report




His Excellency President Adama Barrow
President of the Republic of The Gambia
No 1 Anne Marie Javouhey Ave
State House
Banjul
10 April, 2018                                                                                                   

Open Letter to President Adama Barrow: Show political will and act on the OCCRP report

Your Excellency, Mr President:

The Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia extends its greetings and compliments to you and your entire government. We write in the true spirit of partnership, with the aim of assisting your administration better deploy its mandate, promised to the electorate, at this critical time, when the country is still emerging from a post-tyrannical regime. 

Mr President, we wish to draw your attention to a recently released report detailing the shocking and unacceptable conspiracies by ex-president Jammeh and his accomplices, some of whom are still in your administration, to extort the country and loot its meagre resources.  These acts of criminality, which spanned two decades, have resulted in the country losing one billion dollars to the rampant, unbridled and attendant corruption under ex-president Jammeh.    The report, which was released last week by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a global network of investigative journalists, presents irrefutable evidence of how the country was captured and eventually stolen.  It details how state owned enterprises, public finances, pensioners’ monies, donor aid, were all misappropriated to the tune of at least $975 million. Among the accomplices biggest targets and scores were:

$363.9 million from the state-run telecoms company GAMTEL;
$325.5 million in illicit timber revenue from the Casamance, Southern Senegal;
more than $100 million in foreign aid and soft loans from Taiwan;
$71.2 million from the Central Bank of The Gambia;
$60 million from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corp., which manages disability, housing, and pension payments; and
$55.2 million from the state-run oil company- GNPC.

Your Excellency, these figures are staggering for any country, especially for a small and impoverished nation like The Gambia, which you now lead.  The acts were so audacious, that to ignore them would not only be seen to be irresponsible, morally reprehensible and complicit, but possibly illegal.  This is precisely so because the least that your government should do is to react to the report, especially as the facts show, that it was your very administration that encouraged such an undertaking to investigate corruption under ex-president Jammeh.  Your administration has publicly called for information on any acts of illegality and corruption to be ventilated, whether through the process of the established Janneh Commission and or, in other fora including the media and other public spaces.  This report has responded to those requests made by your administration in the most deliberate and thorough manner.   

We are however, saddened and extremely alarmed at the loud silence from your good self and the government you lead, over these startling revelations.  We are further disappointed that despite the evidence presented in this report, and by extension the Janneh Commission itself, whereby individuals admitted to taking part in looting of state coffers and enterprises; individuals who admitted to committing crimes of theft and conspiring to commit acts of corruption, are not only left to shamelessly gloat with impunity over their escapades, but are still under the employs of your government; and some have been elevated to higher public office. This does not inspire confidence.

Mr. President, we urge you to show political will and act on the OCCRP report, by at the very least, suspending those that were at the helm of these entities when the corrupt practices took place and commence investigations as a matter of urgency.  Anything short of decisive action will undermine your credibility, weaken your administration, and blemish any legacy that follows you during and beyond your presidency. 

Mr President, Gambians that placed their trust in your leadership by voting for the 2016 coalition are becoming disillusioned, so is the regional community that placed a major premium in your ascendancy to the highest office, by affording you their support and security in times of uncertainty; and the international community that demonstrated their magnanimity and supporting our collective developmental aspirations to want to be a better people, and a shining example of a country reformed.

Sincerely,


R2K Coalition - Gambia

                                                                      ### ##

Who:  Right 2 Know- (R2K) Gambia, started its work in October 2016, focusing on elections integrity around the then, now famed, 2016 Presidential elections, when Jammeh was ousted from power.   Our membership/following has since grown to 4,800 people.  The founders are a grouping of individuals with professional backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics, economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia.  All members are human rights activists.  We are located in The Gambia, US, UK, West and Southern Africa. We are a non-partisan entity that focuses on rule of law and democracy, good governance, human rights and the principles of access to information and freedom of expression. 

Organizations in solidarity with this Open Letter:

The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)- is an umbrella movement to unite Gambians in North America (US and Canada), Europe and Africa, mobilizing citizens to achieving the goal a sustainable democracy in The Gambia.

Gambia Participates- promotes accountability policies and institutions that will prevent the occurrence of corruption. The organization also work on budget transparency, elections and participatory democracy by engaging community and policy makers.

Team Gom Sa Borpa-is a youth movement dedicated to raising awareness and participation among young people through Art and supporting their interest in the development of The Gambia.

The Victims’ Centre- provides support to victims and families that underwent untold suffering of torture, kidnapping, forced evictions, illegal seizure of property, and murder under the Jammeh regime.

Institutions and Diplomatic Missions to which this Open letter is copied:

AU Advisory Board on Corruption - Hon. Begoto Miarom
African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights - Commissioner Jasmina Essie King
British High Commissioner to The Gambia - H.E. Sharon Wardle
ECOWAS Commission - H.E. Jean-Claude Brou
EU Delegation to The Gambia- H.E. Stephane Meet
IMF Resident Representative for The Gambia -  H.E. Ruby E. M. Randall
US Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia - H.E. Richard Paschal




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Gambia House and Nordic Artists Event in Oslo

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The Gambia House, in collaboration with the talented Gambian artists in the Nordic countries, will be launching the launching The Historical Nordic Artists Residency Scheme in Oslo, Norway, April 19 - 21, 2019.

The Artist Residency is a space for reflection, planning and a way forward to promote Gambian Music.

The event will be documented by Mamos Media.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

IGP exonerates Abubakar Jawara of GACH of all criminal liability.

Inspector General of Police
The Inspector General of Police of The Gambia has exonerated Mr. Abubakar Jawara, the proprietor of the Gambia Angola China (GACH) of all criminal liability after a consignment of rifles was interdicted at the Gambia Port Authority facility.  
The imported guns were characterized as hunting guns at the port of entry and upon inspection, according to the account of the IGP, only 13 of the 1,200 guns, plus 60 pump action attachments, "were suspected of being conventional weapons of warfare beyond the limits of the legally acquired hunting gun license."  

In short, 13 of the guns were found to be military grade, according to the IGP, after, he said, his office conducted a 2-month investigation employing the expertise of the various branches of the security establishment.

The press release issued by the IGP is silent on the End User Certificate (EUC) which is the official certification normally issued by the authorizing agency, in our case, the Gambia Police Force as provided for under the Guns and Ammunition Act of 1924.  The IGP must authenticate the End User Certificate which has the stamp of the importer with a signature, assumed to be authentic.   

This omission is significant because the EUC provides vital details such as the end user or importer (A. Jawara), exporter (Afrimex, Turkey), description of the goods (1,200 Br-32s and BR-33s and 50 pump action*).  The purpose of these weapons, according to the EUC, is for commercial sale and 'distribution for the purpose of recreational hunting.  

Mr. Jawara certify in the EUC that the rifles will be used for the purposes stated.  The release did not mention the brand name of the 13 military-grade and how are they going to be disposed of, if at all.  The general public would like to know from the IGP as part of the overall effort to allay the fears of a very nervous population. 

Since the stated purpose of these weapons is for commercial sale, there most be a method of accounting for them through documented sales receipts that will be subject to strict inspection by state authorities.  The public must also be able to access this information.  It is imperative that the IGP authenticate all of the articles that has been publicly displayed including but not limited to the End User Certificate, including the stamp of the Gambia Angola and China Company and the appended signature. 

                                                                       #### 


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Military-grade weapons in civilian hands are a threat to the peace and stability of the country

Abubakar Jawara, Proprietor of GACH 
When a consignment of imported semiautomatic military-grade rifles was interdicted at the Banjul Port facilities a few months ago, public alarm reached pitched levels, forcing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to issue a press release reassuring a nervous population still recovering from 22-years of one of Africa's most brutal dictatorship.

The IGP's January 12th press release confirmed that the Gambia Angola China Company, known locally by its acronym CAGH applied for a license to "import single barrel rifles for hunting and recreational purposes in The Gambia."

The IGP claimed that it was during routine security inspection that they discovered that "38 of the guns were not the type authorized" for importation and were thus impounded and an investigation team from the various branches of the security establishment impaneled "to look into the matter as to whether these (presumably the 38 guns) are categories of hunting guns, as claimed by the importer."

By conveniently omitting the total number of guns clearly shown on the "packing list", the IGP is deliberately, and by implication, limiting its investigations to the 38 rifles when the packing list is showing that there were a total of 1,200 semiautomatic rifles and an additional 50 units of pump action BR-18s to allow for conversation of the weapons.

The End User Certificate (EUC) which is issued by the Gambia Police Force headed by the IGP and signed by the importer i.e. CAGH with the company stamped lists the exact same figures of 1,200 BR-32s and 33s and 50 pump action attachments.  Where are all the weapons?

During the National Assembly debate this week, the Interior Minister was asked by a parliamentarian whether "government intends to prosecute the owner of the company called CAGH who imported guns into the country without any authorization."

In response, the minister revealed that the Inspector General of Police approved the license that allowed Mr. Jawara of GACH to import hunting rifles. However, GACH took the liberty of including "two (2) pieces magazine-fed, semiautomatic guns, three (3) cross-fire magazine-fed guns and eight (8) pieces sentient F99T blank pistols"...not covered by the license."

Despite this, the Interior Minister didn't see any contradiction in his claim that an unidentified ballistics expert confirmed that these arms were meant for hunting.  Nothing short of an independent investigation by an outside group will suffice in help shed light on this murky deal that has all the hallmarks of a regional security threat.

The debate revealed two important developments i.e. the National Assembly's Select Committee on Security is investigating the matter and that the same issue is before the courts.  While the former is welcomed, the latter has left us wondering why the matter is in court in the first instance and what is being litigated.

Whatever the case, this issue will not be laid to rest until the Gambian people's concerns are addressed.  Military-grade weapons such as the ones listed in the End User Certificate (BR-32 and BR-33) have no place in our country.  They are a threat to both the military and the civilian population.  Therefore, as we have said in the past, they must be confiscated, publicly destroyed and appropriate legal action taken against all those who have broken the law or committed an administrative error.

                                                                        ####  

 

Friday, March 22, 2019

The consignment of arms imported by Abubacarr Jawara are deadly semi-automatic rifles, the pistols are real, not "blanks", as claimed

We are obliged to re-publish this blog post following the Interior Minister's testimony before the National Assembly yesterday when Minister Ebrima Mballow was quoted as saying that GACH imported 38 "hunting guns", a figure far below the 1,200 semiautomatic assault rifles  and the 50 pump action kits listed in the End User Certificate as well as the packing list.  

This matter is so serious that it is no longer a local matter but has taken a sub-regional security dimension.  The Government of Adama Barrow must come clean and soon. 

----------------------------------------------------------------   

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Abubacarr Jawara, GACH

























The recent shipment of deadly arms and ammunition into the country has raised alarms in the country, as well as the sub-region and other agencies whose work it is to monitor the trafficking in arms and humans, regionally and across the globe.

The consignment of a single container of arms that landed at the Banjul port comprised of 252 boxes containing 1,263 pieces of assorted arms and ammunition has caused great concern and has left a country emerging from 22 years of dictatorship on tenterhooks, particularly the security establishment.  This event could not have come at a worse time when the state's institutions are weak and the coalition that formed the transition government in disarray.  The security sector is in no better shape.

The Inspection Report from the Turkish port from where the weapons were shipped shows that the 1,263 pieces were shipped, made up of 900 pieces of Crossfire Single Barrel Model BR-32 (Wood Forend), 300 pieces of the BR-33 with crossfire pump action Model BR-0, BR-18 and BR 21 for a total of 60 pieces.  For the pump action, the End User Certificate shows 50 but the Inspection Report from Turkey indicates that there were 60 pieces.

The BR-32 and BR-33 are semi-automatic that can be equipped with the BR-01 and BR-21 Crossfire Pump Action to convert them into fully automatic rifles.  So contrary to the press release issued by the GACH Security company, these riffles are far from being hunting riffles.  In the words of the weapons expert  we consulted, these weapons are "more suited for security detail than hunting boar or chasing predator animals off one's farm."

What is missing from the End User Certificate but is in the Inspection Report are the following: 5 pieces of Crossfire Mezine Fed Shotgun + semi-automatic and 8 pieces Sentetien (or Ententien) F-98T and F-99T pistols. The weapons on video display plaid on online television stations did show pistols as well as riffles which are all semi-automatic that can be converted into fully automatic mode.

In the GACH press release explaining the circumstances surrounding the consignment and what they characterize as "the misunderstanding...at the heart of this whole saga is the free samples... which included Blank Pistols."  The release further claim that these blank pistols utilize a blank ammunition which only makes a loud bang and does not have the ability to cause harm."

The pistols described in the GACH press release may exits but they are certainly not the ones listed in the inspection report confirming all of the items shipped from Turkey.  The pistols shipped were Sentetien or Ententien F-98T and F-99T pistols are real and not "blank pistols", as claimed by the importer.

GACH is also claiming that the BR-32 and BR-33 are "hunting riffles".  The weapons expert we consulted concluded that these type riffles are suited for security details and not for hunting.  We have total confidence in the expert we consulted who is a retired military officer who knows a thing or two about weapons.

                                                                ####
This is the first in a series of blog post about this and related matter concerning our national security

 



Thursday, March 7, 2019

The national security deficit is the single biggest threat to Barrow's transition government - Part I


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Three events occurred last week in Banjul that served as sober reminders to what we've now come to refer to as the national security deficit is the single biggest threat facing the Barrow-led transition government.

First, the long anticipated reaction of the European Union towards the seemingly open-ended mandate of the ECOMIG forces that have been in the country since December, 2016 to guarantee the safety and security of Gambians and members of the Transition Government of Adama Barrow.   

While expressing reluctance to prematurely recommend the withdrawal of the forces from The Gambia, the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Mr. Attila Lajos, was quoted as saying "the EU does not want to keep external forces in a democratically transforming country for too long." The optics of retaining a foreign force in the country is not reassuring and thus poses a challenge for ECOWAS to device an exit strategy so as not to "give the impression of how fragile the government could be."  Given these facts and according to reports, the EU Ambassador cannot therefore give the assurance to the Barrow government that his organization will support further extension of the ECOMIG mandate beyond the expiry date of August, 2019. 

Second, there were the arrivals of Gambian deportees from Germany that resulted in some altercations involving a returnee and at least one television journalist who ended up being assaulted and her camera destroyed by an angry returnee. Subsequent flights during the week resulted in verbal protests from relatives of deportees when they were given only D200 (equivalent to approx. US$4) as subsistence and transport fare to their respective homes around the country.  The planeloads of deportees that arrived last week are a minute part of the over 5,000 actual and likely migrants scheduled for repatriation from Germany alone to Banjul in the coming months.  Accurate figures for Italy, Spain and other European countries are not available but it is expected to by in the thousands of young Gambians. 

The third and final event of the past week occurred at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission's (TRRC) session when an army training officer named Alagie Kanyi implicated several prominent members of the military junta, among others, in the murder of the junta's Finance Minister as well as witness tampering for which Mr. Touray - an influential member of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) - has been initially charged.

Yankuba Touray played a key role in transforming the military junta into the formidable civilian political machine the APRC party became as its chief propagandist and youth mobilizer.  Based on the last presidential elections' results that it narrowly lost to a coalition of seven political parties, the APRC is Gambia's second biggest political party.  Despite the absence of Yaya Jammeh, the APRC is very well funded with a national structure that remains largely intact with the former dictator as its titular head and therefore a formidable political force to reckoned with.

These events have national security implications that will be explored in our second installment of this blog post.

                                                                            ###

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Intent to create a "Gambia Infrastructure Fund" announced by the government of Adama Barrow


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REPUBLIC OF                        THE GAMBIA

      MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND
     COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE
      GRTS BUILDING, MDI ROAD, KANIFING, THE GAMBIA, WEST AFRICA.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

                                                                                                       
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
Dated: 2nd March 2019

To Modernize Gambia, Barrow Government Proposes to Set Up ‘Gambia Infrastructure Fund’ (GIF)
The Gambia Government notes with concern that despite modest infrastructural developments since independence in 1965, the country faces major constrains in its overall infrastructural landscape and compared to our neighbours, some places in The Gambia are in dire need of major infrastructural face lifts. This general state of dilapidated and decrepit infrastructure or lack thereof, speaks volumes to the senseless waste of scarce resources, institutional malfeasance, corruption and poor planning.

While millions of US dollars were lavishly wasted on ceremonies, random acts of kindness and white elephant projects, majority of Gambians continued to endure abject poverty, poor educational facilities and a dysfunctional healthcare system.

Against this depressing background of decades of decay, poverty and underdevelopment, President Adama Barrow proposes to launch an independent institution through an Act of Parliament to be called The Gambia Infrastructure Fund (GIF).

To be headed by a Chief Executive Officer, GIF will be responsible for the strategic financing of a well-planned and bankable infrastructure with a view to remarkably transform the economy through large scale household poverty reduction.
As a new institution, President Barrow envisages that GIF complements the public sector role in development by providing strategic leadership in the creation and delivery of infrastructure masterplans, the development of strategic bankable infrastructural facilities and the provision of appropriate financing to support delivery of landmark projects. The proposed GIF will manage three core areas of responsibility for development:
1.     Gambia Infrastructure Trust Fund (GITF) – This will manage the trust fund capitalized by domestic and foreign individuals, institutional and fund investors, using market-based mechanisms. The proposed GIF may not place any financial liability (explicit or contingent) on the government.
2.     Planning Function –Which will develop infrastructure master plans and designs, and further manage and/or coordinate construction, operation and maintenance of ensuing infrastructure through public—private partnerships.
3.     Compliance Function– To provide institutional and regulatory leadership required to sustainably manage infrastructure master plans and projects.
When fully operational, GIF will invest in three economic hubs geographically spread across the country, interconnected by backbone infrastructure corridors, to engineer economic growth through large scale job creation and poverty reduction in all regions.
As a first step, The Gambia Government is to establish an Interim Steering Committee (ISC) to prepare the ground for rolling out GIF within a year.
Consistent with the ethics of transparency and democratic accountability and determined to transform the lives of Gambians across the spectrum, President Adama Barrow is therefore, very pleased to announce these plans and will keep the public informed every step of the way in the weeks and months to come as certain milestones are achieved.



EGSankareh
…………..
Ebrima G. Sankareh
The Gambia Government Spokesperson