Gambia: Christians Decry lack of Protection in the Draft Constitution
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Gambia Christian Council has lamented that that the Draft Constitution does not fully protect the rights of Christians in the country.
It further decried that this generational legacy of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence however, is now under a real threat ironically because of the 2020 Draft Constitution.
“Instead of marking a return to order and the rule of law, the adopted text of the Constitution has plunged The Gambia into even greater chaos as regards religious tolerance. It is having the effect of polarising rather unifying us as a nation”
In a statement signed by the Executive Committee of the Council below the full statement read….
The 2020 Draft Constitution presented by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) for approval by the Executive and National Assembly of The Gambia in our considered opinion still falls short of protecting Christian religious rights.
Apart from the text of the draft itself which allows for more than a single interoperation on this issue the primary concern of the Christian Community is driven by the reality of its experiences during the Jammeh era. The Christian community wishes to ensure that its rights as a minority religion are protected in the said Constitution.
For more than 20 years, we have watched helplessly as the government openly encouraged and permitted the construction of mosques in government institutions, at the expense of other religions, including Christianity and in a country which the government was not permitted to prefer any one religion over another.
Arabic inscriptions were placed over government offices and the dress code of female students in schools was altered to require schoolgirls and women functionaries to wear the Hijab in public as their peers are obliged to do in Arab Islamic countries.
The overwhelming feedback from a large section of the population is that they want a Gambia where both Christians and Muslims continue to coexist in peace and good neighbourliness as they have for generations.
This generational legacy of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence however, is now under a real threat ironically because of the 2020 Draft Constitution. Instead of marking a return to order and the rule of law, the adopted text of the Constitution has plunged The Gambia into even greater chaos as regards religious tolerance. It is having the effect of polarising rather unifying us as a nation.
The new Constitution has for the first time since The Gambia became an independent country created a parallel legal system to the common law system, this is the Shari’ah legal system.
The Constitution makes it mandatory for the majority of the Gambian people to be subject to Shari’ah law in matters of marriage, burial, inheritance, adoption, endowments, all the key areas of human life.
Gambia: Defence Minister assures Gambians of Continuous Government Protection
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Gambia’s Minister of Defence Sheikh Omar Faye has assured Gambians that the government of President Adama Barrow will never abandon her citizens. Speaking during a recent visit to Garawol Kuta Village in the Upper River Region of the Gambia which was the centre of an incident with Senegalese forces, Minister Omar Faye said the Government of President Barrow had been working tirelessly to resolve the issues.
“The Government of the Gambia will never abandon her citizens, and the immediate deployment of a patrol team that crossed into Senegal to follow up on the case is a clear indication that the security forces and the government will never abdicate their responsibilities,” Omar Faye said.
While some people took issue with the fact that the Minister had taken long to visit considering that the shooting incident took place on the 8 of March, Minister Omar Faye indicated that the government of President Adama Barrow had been working tirelessly to resolve the issues .It has been a long and rocky effort to ensure that peace continues to prevail , he said.
Mr Omar Faye informed the villagers that so much has been taking place behind the scenes and will be eventually brought to the public at the appropriate time. The Minister said he was not there to cover or bend the truth but to inform the villagers that the government was with them and doing everything possible to protect them and ensure that such incidents are averted in future.
Going further, the Defence Minister said at the diplomatic level a mediation team had been composed to work out modalities to avoid the reoccurrence of this kind of incidents though the outbreak of COVID-19 had slowed things down, the team will continue work.
The experience of Mr Sulayman Trawally and the villagers as a result of the incident and the ordeal were very unfortunate and regrettable, Mr Faye said , and lauded the efforts of the MP for the area ,the Chief and other community leaders whose efforts contributed to the resolution of the matter.
who spoke at the gathering were; the Deputy Governor of the Region, the Member
of Parliament of the area, the chief of the area, the Alkalo of the Village and
two community leaders. They both expressed appreciation for the visit and
requested for more support in terms of road infrastructure and security.
The Hon Minister was accompanied to the area by Commissioners of Police, Immigration, Commanding Officer of 3rd Infantry Battalion and other Security heads of the region.
Cross border issues are a regular occurrence in Africa and have often times required great tact and diplomacy to resolve in way that broader relations are not strained. The closeness of Gambians and Senegalese means that people interact frequently on both sides of the border and every now and then misunderstandings could occur. It is therefor in the interest of leaders of both countries to ensure that misunderstandings are handled amicably with issues understood before actions taken.
Gambia 2021 Elections: Female Candidate Unveils Interest in Top Job
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Marie Sock, a developmental expert and business mogul has revealed her interest of been Gambia’s next president come 2021 presidential elections.
Gambia goes to presidential elections in 2021, more political parties and independent candidates are emerging.
Sock told Fatu Network that ‘I’m here to reunited Gambia’ as she on Thursday called on all Gambians to back to her to become the country’s next president.
Sock said: “I feel there are too many political parties right now and it’s catastrophic. So I want to get out of that. This is why I said, ‘no I am not gonna form another political party to be part of, I gonna stand independently’.”
The businesswoman is calling on all Gambians including political parties to endorse her in her grand plan.
She said: “Standing independently doesn’t mean I don’t wanna work with anyone. That’s why I’m standing independent. Of course, it will be great if Gambians can come together regardless of any political party that you are affiliated with, to endorse my candidacy because what I want to do is to bring everybody together as Gambians.
“I’m looking actually for all the parties to endorse me. I cannot predict the future, I can only come out and say I’m standing on my own. For now I can only say I am aspiring candidate and talk to all the people to support me and come onboard as one.
“I’m here to reunite Gambia. If we talk about we want Gambia to be one, I think this is the platform to do so. We put our political affiliations aside, we put our religion aside, we put our tribe aside.”
Statement of the Chairperson following the murder of George Floyd in the USA
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
29 May 2020, Addis Ababa: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the murder of George Floyd that occurred in the United States of America at the hands of law enforcement officers, and wishes to extend his deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Recalling the historic Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the United States of America made by African Heads of State and Government, at the OAU’s First Assembly Meeting held in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 24 July 1964, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.
He further urges the authorities in the United States of America to intensify their efforts to ensure the total elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.
The Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the Commission
Cameroon Opposition leader, John Fru Ndi says fight remains same as 30 years ago, reiterates stand on federalism and promises “We will come back…”
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Firebrand opposition leader John Fru Ndi credited nationally and at the international level as Cameroon’s father of democracy has in a four-page anniversary message to members and sympathizers of his Social Democratic Front, SDF political party stated that the fight which started some three decades ago, remains the same.
In his message to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the SDF, the first opposition party in Cameroon, Fru Ndi who doubles as founder and national chairman of the party counted the numerous sacrifices of the party’s founding fathers as they suffered police crackdown, detention and brutality which led to death of many compatriots.
“It has been 30 whole years since we came together bonded by purpose to set our beloved country on a different path. It has been 30 years since we took a firm decision to leave the perceived comforts of the side‐line, nonparticipation and implied complicity with the wrongs of our society, to raise our voices for change and a call for action.”
“It is now 30 years since we started our fight for the very spirit and soul of the country, for the institution of a state of law, for social justice, for equal opportunities and of total restitution of power to the people,” a fight which he points out remains the same and will continue.
Acknowledging that three decades later the social situation remains very preoccupying in Cameroon with poverty, unemployment, lack of basic amenities and now civil unrest threatening the country’s existence, Fru Ndi reiterated his stance on returning the country to a federal system of government.
The vocal politician has twice been kidnapped by separatist fighters in Cameroon’s English-speaking region of North West for his stance on keeping the country united. After his last release, he fled the country but in his anniversary message he promised that this is not the end of the fight.
“In the face of our perceived setbacks we must be reminded that we will come back when people think we should be forgotten; and no matter how far down we may be, we are never too far down to come back”, he said.
He pointed to the fact that Cameroon, purported to be divided by language (English and French) has some 300 local languages which has never been a source of division. “Where then is all the dis‐unity and disarray of the country coming from?” he pondered before adding that.
“We can only point at the centre, to the politics, the administrative set up, the procedures and the laws that govern us. That is what we must change if we are to accomplish our common destiny as a people united in purpose. That only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny.”
Below is the full message of John Fru Ndi, national chairman of SDF on 30th anniversary of party’s creation
Anniversary Message by National Chairman
Dear Members and sympathisers of the Social Democratic Front,
It has been 30 whole years since we came together bonded by purpose to set our beloved countryon a different path. It has been 30 years since we took a firm decision to leave the perceived comforts of the side‐line, nonparticipation and implied complicity with the wrongs of our society, to raise our voices for change and a call for action.
It is now 30 years since we started our fight for the very spirit and soul of the country, for the institution of a state of law, for social justice, for equal opportunities and of total restitution of power to the people.
Looking back over these years, I want to start by thanking God Almighty, for preserving us to this day. For all that He has done for us through this time; for the amazing highs and very testing lows, and finally, for all the lessons we have learned along the way. All these were to prepare us for the responsibility that has been thrusted on our movement. As it is famously said, to whom much is given, much is expected.
Dear Members and sympathisers, Fellow Cameroonians,
Let us take a trip down memory lane. This same day, 30 years ago, we began our struggle fordemocracy. During the launching speech, we said and I re‐quote “…the essence of our democracy is about local people controlling their day‐to‐day affairs…Because where the people are not free to go about their daily chores without undue molestation, they cannot exhibit their skills and talents… we must build a true democracy where the people decide what is good for them…dictatorship produces the following results in the words of Argentina’s great blind writer Jorge Luis Borges: “…oppression,servility, cruelty and more abominable is the fact that it breeds stupidity.”
Those words which captured the reality of Cameroon at that time, still ring very true in our society today. In the same speech, we never failed to mention that “…make no mistake and do not allow yourself to be misled or misguided by anyone, no matter his station in life. Democracy has never been handed over to a people on a platter of gold!”‐ 6 of our compatriots were later shot dead!
Today, the social situation in Cameroon still remains very preoccupying:
The war rages on in the North West, South West, Far North and East Regions of the country.
I express my heartfelt condolence to all those who have lost loved ones in these various conflicts;
The corona pandemic, which is silently decimating our people, has come to add to the list of other pandemics we suffer as a people;
There is total breakdown in health facilities and inadequate doctors to take care of the health needs of Cameroonians. Scandals are a daily occurrence in our hospitals. And sorrowfully, most of these scandals result in fatalities;
The level of poverty continues to grow, with less than 1% of the population living in provocative affluence;
There is still no portable water in a majority of the cities and towns of Cameroon, even during such moments ‐ remember water is the basis of health and life;
Electricity shortage continues to be chronic;
The near absence of a good road network in the country continues to be the cause of many fatal road accidents;
The rate of unemployment and under employment, especially among the youth, continue to provide a ready army of disillusioned people, who can easily be manipulated to engage in unrewarding political actions, which only cause the death of more and more sons and daughters of the country; In fact, we are at the brink of a complete break down and very divided in our thoughts as a people and worst still, how to resolve them.
Over the years, we have made suggestions and contributions on how to shape the future of the country, principally that we must return to a federal form of governance.
Despite the hostile political environment we found ourselves in, even where we were considered enemies in the house for our position and ideals, we have fought hard and contributed tremendously to the building of a progressive image of the country.
Through pressure and persistence, we obtained the first Sovereign National Conference and the admission that our system of administration was not set to deliver the development we all desperately wanted. Our engagement in the politics of the nation, preceded the admission of the country to the Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations; organisations who have provided various forms of assistance to the country. We later took part in local elections and won some key cities of the country and some seats in parliament. Even though limited in number and stifled by government control, were able to accomplish the following:
On the table in local councils, we were able to lay bare how ineffective, limited and cosmetic decentralisation is as a system to ensure the full participation and integration of the local population in their development agenda;
It is on the floor of parliament, led by formidable men like Joseph Mbah Ndam and Joseph Banadzem (both of blessed memory) and other true social democrats still holding the fort today, that we were able to open the debate on the laws of the land for Cameroonians to be aware of what truly obtained in parliament. We promoted the woman folk and youth, giving them key positions in the bureau of the National Assembly, truly opening up our democracy to every Cameroonian;
It is not until we mounted the rostrum during ministerial question time, were we able to expose and uncover the infamous Monchipou Seidou Scandal, which subsequently ushered in Operation Sparrow Hawk and the clamping down on corrupt public officials;
It is not until we introduced the record number of private member bills were we able to mark some progress with the electoral laws of the land.
All these and many more that I cannot enumerate here, are some of the limited actions we could impact on a system that did all to ensure that we failed and tried to pollute public opinion with innuendos that our participation in sovereign institutions was a harbinger of duplexity and complicity with the regime. A political tool they have never stopped using to distract us from the challenges we have at hand.
We demonstrated great strengths and showed great promise, we succeeded where many wrote us off and waited for us to fail. We are far from where we want to be in that fight, but it is a battle we have committed ourselves to win.
Our experience has taught us to always take a seat on the table and make our voices heard. It is not in boycott and abstention that we register the dissenting voice, but in full participation and consistently telling the alternative story and explaining how things can be and should be different, without blinking.
It is our hard work and determination that has exposed the critical weaknesses of our current system. We must therefore in the wake of these new challenges find new strengths. Our country is in dire need of our maturity, our determination, our focus and our experience. The lessons hard learned and the history we have created must be called up if we are to forge the country of the future, where all will be treated equally and as one. We can only succeed in this God ordained mission by staying true to our vision, which is very simple:
“The People must have an equal chance at autonomy and empowerment ‐ for in true democracy lies our development, in true justice our peace and social cohesion and credible elections, our ability to renew our believes in our Fatherland. Our founding fathers found it fundamental to base our core ideals on DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT – Power to the People.”
We are proud that we have not only just said these words, but we have demonstrated the truth in it through our “active intervention” policy. This policy made us tour every nook and cranny of the nation 21 times in 30 years. We slept in all the divisions and almost every village of the country, spreading our message and the merits of our struggle to the people. In all our public engagements, meetings and conventions, from Bamenda (1992), Bafoussam (1993), Maroua (1995), Buea (1996), Yaoundé (1999), Bamenda 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2018, we found more things that unite us than separate us. The only problem we noted is the fact that we have not mustered the political will nor provided the best opportunity to celebrate and encourage these unique attributes we share as a people.
At a time where the debate is rife, let us consider some of these issues and reflect carefully on them. We are mysteriously purported to be divided by language, even though besides our colonial heritage of English and French, we have over 300 local languages, which have never been a source of division.
We have over 30 national dishes, which are a delicacy and appreciated across the nation as a strength and not a point of division. That we have danced, sang and celebrated music across the nation, which doesn’t remind us of division, but prides us as a nation. Where then is all the dis‐unity and disarray of the country coming from?
We can only point at the centre, to the politics, the administrative set up, the procedures and the laws that govern us. That is what we must change if we are to accomplish our common destiny as a people united in purpose. That only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny.
Dear Members and sympathisers of the Social Democratic Front,
Every time we entertain this critical topic, our detractors find a way of either diluting or misrepresenting our position. The Federal form of governance can be achieved through restoration.
Restoration as a process of constitutional change whereby the political system resumes an earlier structure as a result of the failure of the subsequent structure to evolve into a viable vehicle that adequately addresses the pressing needs of that society. While restoration is usually conceived as a return to the old structure, it is, however, the case that the restored structure, more often than not,turns out to be an updated and much improved version of the earlier one. This is what we should strive for as soon as possible.
I therefore call on government to put an end to the hostilities in the North West and South Wes tregions.
To reconvene around a table of true dialogue and reconciliation.
To have the sincerity of tabling the form of the state as a plausible solution no just to the crisis in the North West and South West, but for the country as a whole. I pray that for once, we will do the right thing for our nation.
I end this note by thanking all the Founding Fathers of the SDF. This band of fine gentlemen who developed a mantra that has stood through time. The work we all started, will live forever in the hearts and minds of the people and indeed we shall overcome. May the souls of all our departed heroes and comrades continue to find peace in the bosom of the Lord.
Let me go on to thank and congratulate every one of you, members and sympathisers of the party, for your steadfastness, tremendous sacrifices, some with their lives and others their unflinching support, that we may truly be able to change our country. My hearty congratulations go to you, who despite the ominous odds, understand the discipline of faith and belief in ideals. In your 30 years of commitment and servitude, you have made the distinction between a journey and a destination. You have matured over these years, learning the art of resilience and focus on the goal. In the face of our perceived setbacks we must be reminded that “we will come back when people think we should be forgotten; and no matter how far down we may be, we are never too far down to come back”.
Finally, I want to commend the efforts of all our medical personnel who are sparing no energy to ensure that we all make it through this pandemic. I call on the population therefore to respect all the directives in place, avoid public gatherings, wash your hands regularly and maintain safe social distances.
Long live the Social Democratic Front
Long live our nation Cameroon
Ni John FRU NDI
South Sudan: Hundreds Killed In Inter-Communal Clashes amid Impasses on Fragile Peace Deal
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – More than 200 people, including a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff member, and two other aid workers, have been reportedly killed in a recentl spate of inter-communal violence in the eastern state of Jonglei in South Sudan amid impasses on the implementation of the fragile peace deal.
In the report, at least 300 people were wounded in the violence, which broke out between the Murle and Lou Nuer ethnic communities on Saturday in Pieri, former Bieh state of Jonglei State, according to the government.
Over the weekend, armed men from Murle of Pibor Administration area attacked six villages of Lou Nuer tribe at Uror county areas in Jonglei State. The attacks follow last February’s onslaught by alleged youth from Akobo, who reportedly killed unknown people in remote areas of Pibor.
On Tuesday, the official from Greater Pibor admitted that armed youth from Pibor attacked areas in Greater Akobo over the weekend, said it was ‘revenge.’
In press statement by Boma State Youth Union said they went there as a ‘revenge,’ further warned for more attacks if the Lou Nuer and Dinka Bor didn’t return allegedly abducted children, women and taken cattle in February.
The Secretary-General of the former Bieh State, Daniel Both quoted by Eye radio “We have 242 people dead but we are still receiving dead bodies from people who have died in the vicinity of the bushes where the incident happened.”
The observers say the figure was expected to rise in area. Many suffered gunshot wounds and other trauma, according to health workers.
In the press statement, a patrol from the UN Mission to South Sudan has been sent to the town of Pieri to interview survivors, the organization said in a statement on Wednesday. “The team is investigating reports that many people were killed, injured and lost their homes, adding that “many” huts were burned to the ground.
The UN mission said it had not independently verified the death toll, stressing that ‘it is difficult to verify the number of casualties given conflicting reports and claims”.
However, in the statement, MSF confirmed that one member of its staff had been killed in the fighting.
MSF says more than 50 wounded people, including the two MSF staff members, were brought to the MSF hospital in Lankien – approximately 50 kilometers north of Pieri where they are now receiving treatment.
The doctors without borders say the one patient and three MSF staff were at the healthcare center when the fighting erupted in the area around Pieri in the early morning of Saturday.
“We express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of our staff, and all those affected,” said Steve MacKay, MSF deputy head of mission in South Sudan.
Mackay further condemns in the strongest possible terms the outrageous act of inter-communal violence that has left dozens of people seriously wounded, and fear many more are dead.
Despite that, the organisation has resumed its work in the region after briefly pausing following the attack, he said.
Many locals were forced to flee the area, and several aid workers are still unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Alain Noudéhou, has strongly condemned the killing of three aid workers in Jonglei, in northeastern South Sudan, and called for an end to recurring acts of violence which are disrupting life-saving assistance and COVID-19 response in many parts of the country.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of three aid workers in Pieri and call for those responsible to be brought swiftly to justice. The Government, all parties and communities must step up efforts to protect humanitarians who are taking great risks to their safety in order to provide much needed assistance to the most vulnerable people in South Sudan,” said Mr. Noudéhou.
Inter – communal clashes and armed conflict are hampering humanitarian efforts to pre-position food, medicine and other aid supplies in the final weeks before the rains become heavier and cut off road access to vulnerable communities.
“The violence must therefore stop and humanitarians must be able to reach affected communities freely and without fear,” the Humanitarian Coordinator said.
‘Power vacuum in the state”
Inter – communal violence has broken out several times in the past months in Jonglei, an area that has experienced years of food insecurity and was severely affected by flooding last year.
Inter – communal violence is having serious consequences on civilians and aid workers in many parts of the country.
Analyst attributed this heightened tribal clashes across the country to the absence of state governments, calling for quickly appointment of state governors.
South Sudan has just emerged from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and four millions displaced – both internal and external, before devastated the country’s economy.
In February, President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, ex- rebel leader, reached a deal to form a unity government at the national level but remain at deadlock over issues including who will take or govern the country’s 10 states.
James Deng says the lack of state governors has created a “vacuum of power” that fosters the inter-communal violence across the country.
In addition to inter – communal violence in several locations, armed conflict has persisted in Central and Eastern Equatoria over the past months, displacing thousands of people and adding to the over 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country. Most of the affected people are women and children. This conflict has also disrupted the surveillance of desert locusts, another threat to an already fragile situation.
The Secretary-General of Jonglei state confirmed on Tuesday that SSPDF forces were deployed to areas where clashes were reported in Greater Akobo.
In the past, different forums resolved to provide long-lasting solutions for the cycle of inter-tribal clashes that have claimed lives, destroyed property, and resulted in the abduction of women and children as well as displaced residents, have been held but all ended in vain, according to observers.
Some of the crucial resolutions included the formation of joint integrated police that would monitor the free movement of pastoralists and their cattle across the states.
The integrated police were to be based in Gadiang and across border areas.
In 2017, local leaders from the communities of Dinka, Nuer, and Murle also agreed to form community policing and joint mobile courts comprising of cattle keepers to handle criminal cases, return abducted children and report to relevant authorities.
But these agreements have not been implemented or enforced by the national government.
Communities of the greater Jonglei state have for long been wrangling leading to cattle raids and child abductions.
Aid agencies say violence between the communities in Jonglei is driven by competition over resources and fueled by easy access to guns.
En short dans un supermarché, le président du Portugal fait le tour de la toile
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
Tout comme un simple citoyen, le président portugais Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa a été vu dans une file d’attente dans un supermarché en short en train d’effectuer ses courses sans garde de corps. Et c’est bien l’image qu’il voulait donner de lui-même, citoyen comme tout le monde. Pris en photo dans le supermarché, l’image a fait le buzz sur la toile avec un partage massif en Espa…
Vous pouvez lire cet article sur La Nouvelle Tribune
COVID-19: Gambia’s Opposition Slams Gov’t Lack of Political Seriousness
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The opposition Gambia For All party (GFA) has expressed concern at the lack of political seriousness in addressing the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
GFA said the fight against the disease, which has already killed one person and hospitalised 24 others in the country, should not be politicise because the risk of national disaster extends beyond the scope petty partisan politics.
In a statement to the media, the party said: “We come back to express our very deep concern over the way and manner that a major national crisis continues to be handled without the seriousness of purpose and diligence that should be the hallmark of a country at war, which we all agree, is the case as in other parts of the world with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
The message coming out of the National Assembly during their Extraordinary Session seems to have missed the point. The fight on the chamber floor should not be about asserting the legislative power but promoting a united front against COVID-19.
If we all agree that to arrest the spread of COVID-19 we need to adhere to the WHO guidelines which the state of emergency helps to ensure, however imperfectly, then let us allow the state of emergency. The focus of the discussion should be on how to alleviate the resulting socio-economic hardships through a clear roadmap that goes beyond the provision of food relief and, setting out clearly the potential impact of the coronavirus on the key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and tourism, proceed to outline measures for addressing the challenges.
GFA had earlier said that we should not politicise COVID-19 because the risk of national disaster extends beyond the scope petty partisan politics. We need a national collective effort in this struggle, which should, as a priority be directed at raising public awareness and getting the citizens to play an active role in the fight. It is in this regard that our Party, GFA, in its press release of April 20 strongly urged the government to … “ start by bringing together representatives of religious and traditional leaders, political parties, trade unions, private sector and civil society to promote wider understanding of and support for the challenges and ensure a wider mobilisation of the community effort.”
It is clear that this has not happened as the NAMs during their recent sitting confirmed what is already common knowledge, i.e. the persistence of a disturbingly low level of awareness of the dangers among the population. This explains the behaviour of most members of the public today. The people have a central role in this fight, and to assume that role they need to be more aware of the disease and the measures that need to be in place in order to take full ownership of the process. Unfortunately, the Government has failed to provide this space and we have not heard the National Assembly push for it either.
In the first place, no keen observer can miss the point that the Government’s own attitude, as well as its efforts so far in addressing the pandemic, are best characterised by lack of diligence as well as woeful failure to rise up to the occasion. Ineffectual communication, indeed lack of transparency altogether, maintains the nation in darkness about immediate and medium-term plans, if any, for helping the economy to recover through help to businesses, especially the sectors of tourism, fisheries, agriculture etc., in order to protect jobs and livelihoods.
And, indeed, the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic presents us with a multi-faceted crisis threatening lives and livelihoods on a scale we may not be able to withstand. Where, for argument’s sake, the crisis is reduced to its simplest dimension as just a public health issue, recent admission by the Health Minister before the National Assembly, speaks volumes about the precarity of our situation; Gambians are now left with no illusion about the prospects of gloom and doom facing us, unless by some miracle we can achieve a turnaround in our management of the critical health system, amidst such an appalling penchant for bare-faced thievery and diversion of public resources, so much corruption with resultant ineffectiveness. One other front opened in the crisis is in respect of the ravages of hunger and hardship brought, or worsened, by the restrictions decreed under the declared state of emergency.
Democracy must not become the silent victim of the coronavirus pandemic
May 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
While governments everywhere struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and do all they can to protect public health, democracy is at risk in many places around the world. Hardwon rights are being swept aside by emergency measures, elections postponed indefinitely, or held under problematic conditions, and essential freedoms eroded.
Since the beginning of March, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) has noted that more than 50 countries and territories have postponed elections because of the crisis. Though ostensibly legitimate in the midst of a pandemic, some countries have put off their elections using health emergency laws, instead of through appropriate political channels as stipulated by their constitutions and international standards, and without agreeing to a consensual process for fixing a new date.
In the same period, nineteen countries and territories have gone ahead with their elections in difficult circumstances, some of which could undermine their democratic integrity, if not their legality. Indeed, an election with few poll workers, closed polling stations, very low turn-out, and little or no independent observation could potentially be as compromised as one delayed indefinitely.
Countries due to hold elections in the coming months do face a tremendous challenge. They must take draconian measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but also enable citizens to meaningfully participate in the electoral process. Campaign rallies, voter registration, faceto-face debate and election-day gatherings are all complicated by the situation.
The citizens and leaders of such countries face many challenging questions: Can the election – and the processes that precede it – still be held without endangering lives? Will extra precautions at polling stations be sufficient, or should more profound, and sometimes controversial, changes be made to the way we vote?
These are complex issues involving our fundamental rights, the integrity of democracy, and the legitimacy of our governments. The answers will depend on the legal, political and public health context of individual states, and will probably involve difficult trade-offs.
International norms and obligations provide a vital compass, however. For this reason, we advocate that electoral processes during the COVID-19 pandemic should reflect and respect the following key principles:
A firm grounding in the law. The adoption of emergency measures, including changes to elections, should conform to constitutional provisions and electoral laws. Where the national legal framework does not anticipate such a situation, necessary changes should be formally adopted, consistent with international obligations.
Broad political support. Even where the law is clear, a consultative approach building agreement across the political landscape is crucial. Without this, measures may be perceived as a strategy for political gain by incumbents, which can subvert the public trust that is essential to address the health crisis.
Clear and transparent communication to the public. Citizens will need to understand what measures are being considered, by whom, and on what grounds. The media and civil society have a crucial role to play in preventing democratic erosion by monitoring policy, fostering or enabling debate, and shining a light on critical issues.
Proportionality. Any measures taken – from adjustments at the polling station to more profound changes in how voters are registered, ballots are cast, or votes are tabulated – should be reasonable and proportionate to the risk posed by the coronavirus
Based on the best available technical information. Choosing suitable, proportionate measures requires not only legal certainty and political buy-in but also subject matter expertise. The relevant experts, including electoral experts, should be consulted as early as possible.
Time-bound. The horizon for any emergency measures should be clearly set out. This is particularly relevant in the case of a postponement of elections, which should not be open-ended. Where it is not possible to set a new date, there should be clarity and agreement on how to determine when risks have been overcome.
Mindful of particularly affected groups. Some citizens will require special consideration at this time to ensure free, fair, and safe elections. These include those who are in hospitals or isolation due to the virus; health care workers; law enforcement and military personnel assisting in the crisis; and traditionally marginalized groups, such as women, persons with disabilities, the elderly, refugees and migrants, minority groups, and others who might otherwise be disenfranchised.
Virtually every country in the world will be affected by the pandemic. It is critical, therefore, that we face this common challenge together. In protecting the health and safety of our citizens, we must also be sure that protection measures safeguard the integrity of elections and the legitimacy of democratic political systems.
We urge all leaders and governments to implement decisions in a manner that reflects these principles and respects fundamental rights. That way, we will emerge from this crisis stronger, protecting precious democratic freedom, as well as national health.
This letter is signed by:
ALBRIGHT, Madeleine K. – Former U.S Secretary of State; Chair of the National Democratic Institute (NDI); Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
ANNAN, Nane – Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
BANBURY, Anthony – President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Core Group.
CARTER, Jason J. – Chair of The Carter Center Board of Trustees.
CHINCHILLA, Laura – Vice-President of the Club of Madrid; Former President Costa Rica; Chair of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
CLARK, Joe – Former Prime Minister of Canada; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
DOSS, Alan – President of the Kofi Annan Foundation
DOSS, Alan – President of the Kofi Annan Foundation
GASPARD, Patrick – President of the Open Society Foundation (OSF).
HEYZER, Noeleen – Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Member of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
IBRAHIM, Mo – Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
ILVES, Toomas Hendrik – Former President of Estonia; Member of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
JONATHAN, Goodluck – Former President of Nigeria; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
KOENDERS, Bert – Former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
LETERME, Yves – Former Secretary-General of International IDEA; Former Prime Minister of Belgium; Member of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
LEUTHARD, Doris – Former President of the Swiss Confederation; Former member of the Swiss Federal Council; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
MACHEL, Graça – Minister for Education and Culture of Mozambique; Former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
MALCORRA, Susana – Former Foreign Minister of Argentina; Former United Nations UnderSecretary-General for Field Support; Former chief operating officer and Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
MITCHELL, Derek (Amb.) – President of the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
MOLLER, Michael – Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the 12th Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
PETERS, Mary Ann Amb. (ret.) – Chief Executive Officer of The Carter Center.
SALAMÉ, Ghassan – Former UN Special Envoy for Libya; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
STEDMAN, Stephen – Secretary-General of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
SY, Elhadj As – Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board; Co-Chair of The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB); Former Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
WIECZOREK-ZEUL, Heidemarie – Former Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures.
will.i.am – Musician and entrepreneur; Member of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board.
YUDHOYONO, Susilo Bambang – Sixth President of the Republic of Indonesia; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures
ZEDILLO, Ernesto – Former President of Mexico; Member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures; Member of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
About the Kofi Annan Foundation: The Kofi Annan Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world. It was founded in 2007 by Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
Communales au Bénin: La compilation des résultats se poursuit (Géneviève Nadjo)
May 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
La vice-présidente de la commission électorale nationale autonome (CENA) a fait le point de l’évolution des travaux à la salle informatique. Elle a également abordé le point de la réception des cantines en provenance des 546 arrondissements et la proclamation des résultats provisoires. Elle l’a dit à la suite d’une interview accordée à quelques médias ce mardi 19 mai au siège de l’institution….
Vous pouvez lire cet article sur La Nouvelle Tribune
Blé Goudé au citoyen ivoirien : « Ouvre-toi d’autres portes et scrute d’autres horizons »
May 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
En attente de son procès en appel à la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), l’ancien ministre ivoirien de la Jeunesse, Charles Blé Goudé a adressé un message fort à tous ses sympathisants. Même si lui et son mentor Laurent Gbagbo, ex-président de la Côte d’Ivoire, voient toutes leurs chances de prendre part à l’élection présidentielle d’octobre prochain s’a…
Vous pouvez lire cet article sur La Nouvelle Tribune
Distanciation sociale : une première ministre se voit refuser l’accès à un restaurant
May 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Samedi dernier, une scène peu ordinaire s’est produite dans un restaurant de la Nouvelle-Zélande. En effet, il s’agit de l’interdiction à Jacinda Arden, la première ministre du pays de prendre un brunch dans un restaurant. Pour cause, la pandémie du coronavirus. Le responsable des lieux tient à respecter rigoureusement les me…
Vous pouvez lire cet article sur La Nouvelle Tribune