The Point (Banjul)

9 January 2013

Gambia: Jammeh Rejects European Union Demands

President Yahya Jammeh has sent out a clear message to the European Union and the outside world, declaring that he will never be blackmailed by a group with "chicken change" to accept what is not in the interest of the Gambian people.

President Jammeh, who was speaking yesterday during a cabinet meeting at State House, said Gambia "will never be colonized twice".

His comments were in response to a 17-point set of demands by the European Union to be discussed with the Gambia government during a meeting slated for Friday 11th January 2013.

Among the demands by the European Union are the upholding of moratorium on the death penalty with immediate effect, revision of laws on freedom of expression and media regulations within 24 months, provision of information regarding the recent executions, including location of burial to the families.

"I will not compromise with evil, I will not compromise with anything that will question our independence as a country, and I will not compromise with any institution that thinks that we are not fit to rule our country, no matter what they have," Jammeh declared.

Speaking at the meeting with members of his cabinet, President Jammeh said he will not compromise on being told by any outside force how this country should be run, what laws should be passed, how we should deal with our people.

"That is not their business, it is not even up for discussion!" he said.

According to the Gambian leader, no entity should tell this country what laws should prevail in this country.

He added: "They cannot define themselves and define us. We are an independent sovereign state; being small does not mean that we are not human. We are as human as they are, and may be even better because we are true Muslims and true Christians in this country."

"So if anybody thinks that Gambia is poor, and you dangle chicken change and say, 'Yahya Jammeh, dance on broken bottles and I will give you this', go to hell, I will not! whether it's any institution, any bloc or any power outside this country, because I believe in the power of the Almighty Allah," Jammeh stated.

"Gambia will not be colonized twice. Colonialism can take different forms; it may not mean direct occupation of a country as they did before, because if anybody attempts that now, we will all die than be colonized again; they will find this country too hot for them to handle.

"With the Almighty Allah, anybody who attempts that will fail badly. That being the case, if all of us are sincere to our country, we must all work together because, in any society, there will always be a leader," he added.

"Let me make it very clear again.

"When we have the so-called partners who still believe that Africa should be colonized in one way or the other, and they hoodwink us into what they call a partnership; partnerships are not bad. There is nothing wrong in talking to evil people, if you believe that talking to them will make them change and become good people. There is nothing wrong with a partnership as long as the partnership is based on mutual respect and respect for your independence and sovereignty."

Still on the demands made by the European Union, the Gambian leader further stated that there is no need to meet with the European Union because, as he put it, "none of their demands is subject for discussion".

"It is unacceptable, and if that is the dialogue they are talking about, the dialogue is dead and buried!" he added.

"If we had known that the dialogue they are talking about was not a dialogue, but a lecture, we were not going to sign for it. Now it seems that all the dialogue with the EU is about them telling us what we should do; one accusation after the other. If that is the dialogue, then it ends today because that is not a dialogue, and we will not be lectured. After all, what are they going to give us? Are they going to give us oxygen or prolong our lives; it is only the Almighty Allah who decides how you live, and not the EU."

Jammeh further emphasized that as a sovereign state, Gambia's laws would not be amended because the EU wanted that to happen, further stating that Gambia is not a colony of the European Union or any international body.

Meanwhile, below are the demands made by the European Union, as announced during the Cabinet meeting by President Jammeh himself:

1. Commitment of Government of the Gambia to allow the free operation of independent media in The Gambia within a deadline of one month;

2. Removal of restrictive barriers/monetary/regulatory to registration and licensing of the media;

3. Removal of restriction on accessing and sharing information electronically within one month;

4. Revision of provision in the criminal code that allow for prosecution on the charges of sedition, libel, false publication to a public servant within 6 months,

5. Revision of laws on freedom of expression and media regulations within 24 months

6. Upholding of moratorium on death penalty with immediate effect

7. Provision of information regarding the recent executions, and including location of burial to families within one month

8. Review of the death penalty by the National Assembly within 12 months

9. Review of the death penalty by the National Assembly and to propose to introduce a de jure moratorium within 24 months

10. Review of the provision of the death penalty in the element of the criminal code and other laws for most serious crimes within six months

11. That the Government signed and ratified the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights within 18 months

12. Conclusion of an MOU with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to allow them access to prison facilities on regular basis within 3 months

13. Provision of regular and timely access for diplomatic corps within one month

14. Presentation of costed proposals to improve prison detention facility condition within 12 months

15. Provision of information on the UN Convention against torture ratified on June 6th 2006 within 3 months

16. Signing of the optional protocols to the convention against torture within 6 months

17. Establishment of the Human Rights Commission proposed by the Commonwealth secretariat

VP Njie-Saidy, Njogu Bah, Fatou Lamin Faye, Kebba Touray, Aki Bayo, Lamin Jobarteh, Balla Garba Jahumpa, Francis Litti Mboge, Minister of Presidential Affairs Mustapha Camara, all expressed solidarity with Jammeh on the position he has taken in these issues.

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