23 January 2013

Gambia: Regions Say No to EU Demands

The peoples of the North Bank, Central River, Lower River and Upper River Regions respectively from Thursday through Sunday, staged protest marches in their various administrative regions in solidarity with the Gambia government against the EU 17-point demandS on the basis of Article 8 Political Dialogue.

North Bank Region

On Thursday, January 17th, 2013, the people of North Bank Region staged a mass protest against the EU demands with a march past from the AFPRC General Hospital in Farafenni to the home of the former chief of Illiasa, where they were received by Ebrima Ansu Tamba Jammeh, the chief of Illiasa and the governor of the region, Lamin Queen Jammeh respectively.

Mustapha Dibba of Farafenni read a petition against the EU demands describing it as unwarranted conditionalities and a total disregard of the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of The Gambia. He said the people of North Bank Region are in total support of the Gambia government.

He made it clear that no foreign entity can influence them to desist from supporting the government, saying President Jammeh and his government have lifted this country out of stagnation and under-development, and transformed it into a fast developing nation.

Dibba stressed that since the 1994 Revolution, President Jammeh has been doing everything possible for the country to develop. He declared that the people of North Bank Region will ever remain grateful and indebted to President Jammeh for his development achievements for this country.

Lamin Queen Jammeh, the governor of the region, assured the people that the petition against the EU will surely be forwarded to the president of the Republic. He described The Gambia as an independent and sovereign state with her Constitution guiding the state.

He commended the people for coming out in large numbers to show solidarity with the government and the leadership, saying it is in defense of the Constitution that originated from the will of Gambians. He urged the people to redouble their efforts and tighten their belt and get more prepared than ever before to stand for this country.

Modou Cham of the Gambia Transport Union and Tapha Dibba, who organised the solidarity march, assured the people of the region that they would never turn their back on President Jammeh.

Ebrima Ansu Tamba Jammeh, the chief of Illiasa, chaired the occasion.

Central River Region

The eleven districts of the Central River Region also converged on the Island town of Janjangbureh on Friday, January 18th, 2013, to show solidarity with the Gambia government against the EU.

Reading and presenting the petition on behalf of the people of the region, Kaunding Tambedou said the declaration represents the candid wishes and aspirations of the people of the region and also depicts their voluntary and unflinching support and solidarity with His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh and his government in rejecting all the 17-point EU demand issued to The Gambia government for implementation.

He continued: "We thus, wish to present the under-mentioned declaration to our governor, Alhaji Ganyie Touray, for onward transmission to the president of the Republic; that, we are a sovereign and independent state and passed the era of colonialism since 1965; that our sovereignty must be uphold and respected by all and sundry both internally and externally including EU because we shall never accept to be colonised twice; that we shall always remain steadfast and rally behind the president who sacrificed his dear life to salvage this country and championing numerous development initiatives since the advent of the Second Republic."

He added: "We stand in solidarity with our dynamic leader H.E Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh and his government; that if the European Union have issues of human rights concerns against The Gambia, they should respect our sovereignty and engage our good government in exploring all avenues of dialogue with a view to finding a common ground instead of giving conditions and directives for implementation within a set timeframe among others."

Receiving the petition, Alhaji Ganyie Touray, the governor of the region thanked the people of CRR for the massive turnout, describing it as real patriotism and solidarity with the Gambia government and its leadership against the 17-point EU demands. He said there cannot be any better way to manifest their true love for their country, to their leader and to defend the sovereignty of this country than what they have done. He assured them that the petition will be forwarded to the president of the Republic accordingly.

Upper River Region

The communities of the Upper River Region also joined other regions on Saturday, January 19th, 2013, to protest against the EU demands at a well-attended gathering held in Basse.

The URR protest march started at Koba Kunda, and on to the Governor's Office in Mansajang where a solidarity statement was read and delivered on behalf of the people by Ebrima Sorry Bah, the coordinator of 'Dying for President Jammeh' Association. Handing over the petition, Bah strongly condemned the EU 17-point Article Political Dialogue issued to the government of The Gambia.

His words: "The government of The Gambia will never accept any of the 17 points as it is meant to undermine not only the sovereignty of this nation but its peace and stability as an independent and sovereign state with its fundamental right to operate within the parameters of duly constituted laws."

He vowed that Gambians will continue to guard the peace and stability this country is known for, saying, "we will not relent inour support for the president in his drive to achieve his development aspirations.Therefore, the country is an independent state like any other country in the world. We are a nation comprising Muslims and Christians." He urged Gambians in the Diaspora to also stop attacking this country unnecessarily and to come back and participate in the development of their motherland.

Haji Hulleh Camara, the chief of Jimara District, also condemned the EU demands, describing it as something that will jeopardise the peace and stability of this country. He assured of the people's continued support to the Gambian leader. "The Gambia is an independent state like any other country in the world and we believe in Almighty Allah and what the EU is demanding is totally unacceptable," he said.

For their part, Omar Sampo Ceesay and Ba Sama Jawneh both spoke at length on the peace and stability that the country has been known for under the leadership of President Jammeh.

Alhaji Salieu Muhammed from the Mauritania community, who participated in the protest march, also condemned the EU demands. He said: "We will continue to rally behind the president as he continues to provide development for the people in a conducive environment."

Lower River Region

Like other regions, the people of Lower River Region on Sunday, January 20th, 2013, also turned out in their larger numbers to denounce the 17-point EU demands imposed on the government of The Gambia. The LRR protest march started at the GPTC Depot and on to the premises of the Mansakonko Area Council, where they gathered to deliver a petition to the governor of the region for onward transmission to the president of the Republic.

Demba Ali Jallow, the principal education officer at the Regional Education Directorate in Mansakonko, read the resolution on behalf of the people of the region, saying it emanated from the people of the region during a meeting earlier called by the TAC members of the region at the governor's office.

He opined that the EU should reconsider engaging the government of The Gambia in dialogue to enable both parties to reach an agreement that would be of mutual interest. He declared that the people of the region are behind the president at all times, adding that the democratic principles and governance system of the country will never be compromised. He again urged the EU to engage the government in a fruitful dialogue, rather than imposing conditions and timeframe.

Receiving the petition, Lamin Darboe, the governor of Lower River Region, expressed gratitude to the people for the positive turnout in the solidarity march. He said the initiative by the people to come out to show their solidarity with government is not only welcomed but very important in the sense that President Jammeh is a leader who has the interest of the Gambian people at heart.

Governor Darboe said the 17-point EU demands are unacceptable in the sense that they are not in accordance with the country's constitution and totally against the aims and objectives of the government of the day. He called on the people of the region to continue their unflinching support to President Jammmeh and the government. He then assured that the petition will certainly be forwarded to the president accordingly.

This report is compiled by

Alhagie Babou Jallow in NBR;

Lamin SM Jawo in CRR;

Momodou Jawo in URR &

Salifu Touray in LRR.

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