Gambia: Good Morning Mr President - On Afcon, Corruption Fight, Respect for Democracy, US-Gambia Relations

13 March 2023

Mr President, The Gambia U20, who, for the first time played the Final of CAF AFCON U20 but lost to Senegal by 2-0 deserve commendation.

We congratulate the brilliant performance of the young scorpions for losing only one match and winning five matches - something we must see as a great achievement.

We also commend Kaba Bajo, the president of GFF, members of the executive, the coach and his technical team.

Your government should always support sports as it is a means to foster peace and unity.

The more investment you make in sports, the more good results we achieve. The media should also be supported to promote sports in the country. Additionally, the government should endeavour to promote sports in all schools.

Despite the defeat against Senegal, Gambia U20 still qualified for the junior world cup in Indonesia later this year, which starts from May 20 to June 11, 2023.

This is the second time that The Gambia plays in the junior world cup since 2007 in Canada when Gambia lost to New Zealand and Australia but beat Portugal.

More funds are needed for the preparation of the team. It will be a great exposure for the country. Both the government and the business community should contribute to the success of the preparation of the team.

Mr President, while many people are pointing fingers at the government for corruption, we have noticed that you are determined to fight corruption in this country.

Your government set an example last Tuesday when a former senior government official was jailed for two years and fined one million dalasis. This is a warning call to all government officials and by extension; for Gambians to desist from corruption such as graft, bribery and other fraudulent acts.

The action taken against the former Permanent Secretary of Fisheries is a deterrent to the malaise of corruption that has taken place in several decades.

Instances of financial malpractices have been highlighted on several occasions by state and public institutions. We recognise the office of the Auditor General which should be commended for boldly disclosing financial malpractices in the government.

Mr President, recently auditors discovered that up to 10 million dalasis from Global Fund at the Ministry of Health is yet to be accounted for. This is a serious concern for the nation and therefore, your government should take action to reach the bottom of this matter in order to know how the money was spent and why. If anyone is found wanting, they should face justice.

Mr President, we would like to similarly applaud you for the step taken to set up in the near future Anti-corruption Commission - with a Bill that is expected to be enacted by the National Assembly next week Monday, March 20 2023.

Mr President, while corruption is difficult to eradicate totally, we believe that with political will, your government can do a lot to curb corruption without fear or favour in this country.

Mr. President, the issuing of permit for a peaceful demonstration by the major opposition party, UDP, last Friday was a very good example of your government's commitment to democracy, which is hardly accepted in other African countries.

On the other hand, the main opposition UDP should be commended for exercising a high level of maturity and responsibility in ensuring that they conducted the demonstration peacefully and respected the time accorded to them.

This is what is expected from both the government and opposition parties because The Gambia belongs to all of us and we should allow peace to always reign.

Finally Mr President, we welcome Uza Zeya, the US under secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, who is in The Gambia for a two-day working visit on the launch of the improving "Access to Justice in The Gambia project." Supported by the International Law Organisation, Madam Zeya would hold meetings with the minister for Justice and the Chief Justice.

Ms Zeya's visit to The Gambia will reinforce the bilateral cooperation between the US and The Gambia especially in helping our judiciary with equipment, training, exchange programmes and to boost our security system.

Good day!

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