New citizenship laws

"Part of the Act reads; Subject to section seven of the nationality and citizenship amendment, where the president has deem it necessary, he shall grant a certificate of citizenship of The Gambia to any person and the person to who the certificate is granted shall, on taking an oath of allegiance in the form specified in the Act be a citizen of The Gambia as from the date on which the certificate is granted."

Is it just me? but isn't this whole amendment to the constitution a ploy at rigging the next election. Jammeh could use this provision to grant citizenship to tens of thousands of people from Casamance to shore up his share of the electorate. NADD should pay attention to shenigans like this. Elections are not rigged only on election day. Yaya Jammeh is planning ahead and the opposition should take heed. They should start campaigning for the repeal of this provision before it comes back to bite them where it hurts the most... at the ballot box.
Read the rest of the story here

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Save the Gambia democracy project has a website up. The URL is: www.sunugambia.com

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HALIFA ON NADD...courtesy of Foroyaa

By Bubacarr K. Sowe

The Coordinator of the newly formed National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) and National Assembly member for Serrekunda Central, Hon. Halifa Sallah recently spoke to FOROYAA. In an interview with this reporter, Mr. Sallah spoke on the Code of Conduct of NADD, the Manifesto and the role the people should play to take ownership of the Alliance.

FOROYAA: Why did you form the National Alliance for Democracy and Development?

Halifa: A multi-party system gives opportunity to the citizen of a republic to have a choice. Democracy is about choice and you cannot have a choice without having an alternative. So when you have a party running a country you equally need another party checking what it is doing, criticizing what is wrong, preparing a programme In short, when you are dissatisfied you can give an alternative policy and put that policy before the people so as to get their mandate in order to replace what you are dissatisfied with, and carry out the programmes that you believe would address the basis of a multi-party system. Now, that works where the existing government accepts all the rules of ensuring the undiluted choice of the people. What we have now is that the existing government has not given the Gambian people the opportunity to hear divergent views. It does not allow divergent views to be expressed on the TV or the radio.

Secondly, they have gone to a level of changing the constitution.

FOROYAA: Which part of the constitution?

Halifa: In the past, you have the second round of voting, which means if you have many parties they would contest and the people will select the two that they have given support to. If none of the two does not have 50 % of the total number of votes, then you can have a second round of voting. In that sense, the other parties which do not have the high marks can actually leave the scene and the two parties will contest the election. But what they have done is to remove the second round of voting. It means if the opposition parties are divided it makes it very easy for the ruling party to win even by one vote because the majority carries the vote means that the more you can divide the opposition the greater the chance. So you can have an unpopular government to win an election not by virtue of the fact that it is supported by the absolute majority but by virtue of the division of the opposition. So in that sense, we see that the essential thing here is, when we look at the ! Gambian situation we do not want a government to win because of the weakness of the opposition but rather on the basis of the its own strength. To prevent it from winning because of the weakness of the opposition, the opposition has come together to form the National Alliance for Democracy and Development. But we realized that in coming together, we either have to sacrifice principles or we develop an alliance which would allow all the parties to respect their individual principles. And that is the alliance we have built. We saw that instead of allowing one personality or party to lead an alliance what we have done is to draw some principles; principles that can be safeguarded to make Gambia more democratic. For example, we have agreed that whosoever is going to be the presidential candidate of the alliance would not stand on behalf of a political party. That personality will be in office for only one term; nor will that person support any other candidate in the ensuing election. S! o you see that would create equality after the term of the presidential candidate of the alliance expires. It means that you will have a level base for all political parties to start their campaign and put up their respective candidates and none will complain of unfair treatment or advantages being given to one party or another, or one personality or the other. So that is why we have done that. It means then that all parties will stand again because the radio will be open to divergent views, the same thing will apply to the television throughout the five years of NADD’s presidency. And at the same time, the constitutional changes will be made to restore all the progressive things that were in the constitution before and add new things. For example, we agreed that we limit the term of the president to two terms. So in that sense, after the term of the NADD presidency we will also change so that no person can stay in office for more than two terms. These are all progressive laws that N! ADD has in mind.

FOROYAA: Why is it necessary for you to form the alliance when you have only four seats at the parliament?

Halifa: Well, four seats has nothing to do with 2006 elections because those who are sitting now have performed what they could and the people are to judge them to see whether they are satisfied with their performance or not. So if politics is conducted in a proper manner people are to be voted on the basis of programmes and not personality. And in 2006 the person elected president will be judged by his performance and then in 2007 the National Assembly members will be judged by their performance.

FOROYAA: Do you think it is possible to remove the APRC from power through elections in 2006?

Halifa: The people control power. They are the ones who decide who should be president or who should be National Assembly members. I stood here (Serrekunda Central) for National Assembly elections irrespective of the APRC candidate. All the finance and all the support, even last minute declarations by the President, did not bar me from winning an election. So it is left to the Gambian people. When they want change, change will come.

FOROYAA: African elections are usually rigged. How can you measure the credibility of these elections, especially here in The Gambia?

Halifa: Well, rigging elections depends on the level of support of the people and the level of their consciousness. Wherever you have a conscious people, it is not possible for elections to be rigged. Even if there are attempts to do so you end up failing. So our conviction is that we should continue and enlighten the Gambian people and when they want change, nobody can prevent that change.

FOROYAA: What type of a candidate are you going to nominate for the coming elections?

Halifa: The person would have to be the one who accepts the principles of NADD. The person is going to be a caretaker president, and will serve NADD and not the political parties or a given group of people in the society. And the agenda is to make Gambia more democratic. Secondly, the candidate must be somebody who can win an election. He must be somebody accepted by the vast majority of the Gambian people, as a person who can win an election.

FOROYAA: How would you convince Gambians to vote for NADD?

Halifa: Every Gambian wants a more democratic society, a society where you don’t have to fear, a society where the President would not have so much power that his words are taken as the law. The Gambian people want a society where leaders have their responsibilities but they also have their limits in the exercise of authority, where public servants will be free to carry out their duties without fear or favour. The constitution has been changed. We used to have Chieftaincy elections, but all these have been removed from the constitution. Now the President decides who is Chief, the Secretary of State for Local Government also decides who is Alkalo. So there is less empowerment of the people and more centralization of power in the hands of the President and the Executive. So we believe that the Gambian people will want a system under their control so that ultimately after the five years of NADD, they will be free to select any personality to be their President and any indivi! dual as their National Assembly members, without any fear or favour.

FOROYAA: In your capacity as the Alliance’s Coordinator, how will you gear NADD into victory in 2006?

Halifa: That is not me alone. We don’t have to personalize this responsibility. In fact, the responsibility is created so that focus will be given on NADD rather than personality. NADD is driven by principles and programmes. The principles are clearly going to be disseminated for people to understand and the programmes similarly. We now have the principles. What we need are the programmes. So we have a Technical Committee that is working on the Manifesto. Eventually, the Manifesto will reflect the programmes of NADD. But the principles already show fundamental differences with the APRC. While the APRC is trying to put one personality for 2006 and 2011 by the time he finishes his term in 2011, he would have been in office for 22 years. So clearly, that is not the type of agenda the Gambians should have. Taking into consideration that most governments and countries are establishing the two term limit NADD is saying the presidential candidate would just be there as a caretak! er president for one term. And secondly, we will establish a two-term limit. So it is fundamental that NADD is going to rely on its principles of creating an open society, a just society where no one will fear and where justice will be delivered to all. We will be using that plan to win the support of the Gambian people.

FOROYAA: What are NADD’s forthcoming activities?

Halifa: One, we are working on a Code of Conduct that will be launched so that people will see it as a serious alliance and that is an alliance based on principles. We intend to create national unity. Therefore on NADD’s platform you will not hear people advocating for tribal difference, racial difference, attacking people on the basis of their religion. All efforts will be made to try and unify the Gambian people. We are also creating a Code of Conduct to ensure that slander, insults, politics of character assassination will all be eliminated in Gambian politics. So we intend to provide a credible alternative and therefore we intend to promote political decency and political maturity. That is one. The Code of Conduct will be launched and then we are to distribute the Memorandum of Understanding in all the local languages as well as the Arabic script. We will put it in cassettes so that Gambian people will know what NADD stands for. This is when they will know whether to ! follow up to know its programmes or whether to support it or not. So it is also a major activity. The Technical Committee is working on the Manifesto. This will also be launched. We intend to mobilize tens of thousands of people to come to the grand launching and from there we will be building the Secretariat throughout the administrative areas. The Secretariat will coordinate all the political activities in all the divisions and we will continue to upbeat the political programmes from then onwards.

FOROYAA: How will the AU be helpful to The Gambia with the aid of its Peer Review Mechanism?

Halifa: The government has not signed the memorandum. You know there is a memorandum of understanding and countries that want to subscribe to the Africa Peer Review Mechanism must sign the memorandum of understanding. So you know The Gambia is not a party to that. And this is the fundamental difference between NADD and the government. In our Code of Conduct we actually publish commitment to sign the memorandum of understanding of the African Peer Review Mechanism and participate fully so that the government will be judged by safeguards established by the Africa continent.

FOROYAA: Any last message for the Gambian people?

Halifa: It is desirable for the Gambian people to own their minds. The era has come for people to take control of power. Being a sovereign republic means that people control power. There should be no monarch. That is why we have elections. That is why we have the vote. The vote is the citizen’s power. It characterizes your authority to decide who should manage the affairs of the country. And all citizens have equal power to decided how one’s nation is governed. But that authority must not be sold. It must not be given as a gift to somebody because one is a relative. It is an authority that should be asserted and you assert it in a mature way and that is why it is said that at eighteen years, it is believed that the person is mature. So what is required is for that individual to be able to sit down and decide on the basis of choice. That is the basis of voting. If you vote without considering which is better then one has shown immaturity and one should not really complain ! when one sees one’s nation going astray.

FOROYAA: Thank you very much.

Halifa: Thank you too.

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It is the Corruption… Stupid.

Davos is always described as exclusive, but that’s one thing it is not. It is a Swiss ski resort during the winter months where common folks with a few hundred Euros show off their slope mastery. Davos only becomes exclusive during the annual gathering of fat cats—the World Economic Forum, as it prefers to call itself.

Mind you, everyone at these annual summits meant well. This year’s summit is no exception. Delegates publicize themselves and the companies they represented. The second priority was to network. Last but not least came the plan to end poverty in Africa, this is a noble cause, but for one problem. Nobody mentioned the c-word. Corruption—as in African leaders’ corruption.

Bill Gates have the cash, technical and commercial credibility, Bill Clinton the soaring rhetoric, and Bono the celebrity, but if these cats manage to eliminate hunger from even one tiny African village without holding African leaders they cuddle with at the summits accountable, I will join the APRC.

Well-intentioned crusades against poverty in developing countries are good for publicity but little else. Accusing rich nations of not doing enough while not mentioning the corrupt nature of African leaders in attendance is just another way of ingratiating oneself with hyperbole. Because the reason so many thousands of lives are lost daily in sub-Saharan Africa is not lack of aid but because too much money goes into fighting wars, or end up in vaults in Zurich, leaving nothing for hospitals and schools.

Hand wringing by corrupt African leaders is nothing new. Case in point is Obasanjo and Mbeki. The psychopathic Liberian murderer Charles Taylor is living in Nigeria with the hundreds of millions he stole from that nation’s coffers, and his protector, Olusegun Obasanjo, presents himself in Davos and lectures on the need to help Africa. Ditto Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa and the prime mover behind the theory that AIDS does not exist but is an American plot to weaken Africans. With such moronic attitude coming from the two power hitters in sub-Saharan Africa, how are we supposed make any progress in changing the attitudes of our peoples?

Africa’s problems are man-made. They began when the Europeans hastily drew artificial boundaries without regards to tribal animosity. They later on granted African nations independence without resolving the resultant social issues that came about. Resulting in tribal warfare all over sub-Saharan Africa. This robbed its citizens of health care and education. The rest was predictable. Africa’s epidemics—malaria, cholera, typhoid, and AIDS—will not be beaten by grand gestures from the West that only end up in the bank account of the Yaya Jammehs.

The only solution to Africa’s misery is good governance, an impartial judiciary; secure borders, internal peace, modern medical practices, solid education and an end to kleptocracy. Repatriating millions of dollars stashed in Swiss accounts by the Yaya Jammehs will be a good start. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

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Gambia @ 40

National Athem for your listening pleasure

You need real player to listen to it. Demonstrations have been staged in London and New York. Audio transcripts of these protests are available on Radio Free Gambia's site. LINK.

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Holy Crap

A damn good piece of Democratic propaganda. Its brilliant in as much as it allows the average American to truly see just how much they're being shafted by W.'s faux social security crisis.

Click on this link to compare your social security earnings under the current system to Dubya’s half-baked idea of private accounts. I got shafted 29%.

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Toothless Tiger?

When Togo's army anointed the son of its dead president to be the new leader, it not only ignored its constitution but also challenged Africa's emerging democratic order as envisioned by the African Union charter.

The new Union is setup among other things to create democratic institutions and end Africa’s image as a continent ruled by despots who seize power through the barrel of a gun. But Togo's curious experiment with hereditary democracy is putting to a test the will of other African heads of state to put a stop to this madness that has engulf our continent for decades. Are they going to take a stance and pave way for the stability of emerging African democracies or are they sticking to the threat of imposing so called sanctions that only hurt the poor… which in the case of Togo is about 90% of it’s people.

If the trend in Africa is toward more accountable government, this cannot stand in Togo. However reading through the day’s dispatches from the continent gives me the impression that most African union leaders are caught up in a classic case of stability versus political change. They have not change much from the hey days of African coups, that African heads of government looked after each other, took care of each other, if one seized power, the others rallied around and told the West not to meddle in Africa's affairs… all in the name of maintaining security. Human rights and the rule of law be damned.

Togo's parliament is a creature of the Eyadema family and by calling on them to remedy the situation in that nation or face sanctions, the African Union is just throwing in the towel and Togo will just continue to be a fiefdom of the Eyademas.

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Shades of Andrea Mitchell

I know I've never said this before, but whenever I see satellite photos, of whatever, I think back to early 2003 when Andrea was pushing satellite photos of suspected nuclear/chemical plants in Iraq. Funny thing, since we've occupied the country, I haven't seen a follow up story telling us what those plants actually were.

And now CNN has two different stories about Iran, North Korea and their nuclear plants. They have supposed aerial photos of those nuclear plants.

Jeeeeezus.
Do these people even look at this stuff before they send it out?

Now, will CNN tell us who fed them at least one bogus photo?

Click on link to see for yourself
The photos are of the same damn plant.

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Not so fast

The Ecowas trip has been cancelled. Read the whole story here.

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Wow

West African leaders are doing something about the Togolese situation. Nigerian president Obasanjo is leading a delegation going into Lome to ask Faure Gnassingbe to vacate the presidency and let the constitution take it's course.

In another development the Nigerian national assembly passed a motion urging the African Union through it's chairman (Obasanjo) to look at all option (military action if necesary) to bring sanity to the Togolese henchmen. This is encouraging. If democracy is to take root in Africa, people in power need to live by the rule of law. I can only hope this was the case when our resident dictator took over. The Gambia wouldn't have turn into the nightmarish basket case it is today.



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Hmmm....

ECOWAS is demanding for fair play in Togo. That is a first. But the sixty-four million dollar question is: what are they going to do if Faure Gnassingbe decided that Togo is his inheritance to keep?

Read the rest of the story here.

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Truth Commission

Many Gambians have given up on a search for truth. It just seems too costly, too frustrating, and too ethereal. People who got their loved ones murdered by this regime have in most cases simply put it behind them or at least act like they do. Many fear that the truth, if we can ever find it, will make us into a vengeful and intolerant people. However, I am a believer in the phrase: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

All of us crave for politicians that will tell us the truth and stop lying to us. It is so easy to dismiss such yearnings as naïve fantasies. Yet if no one can be trusted in our society, then the foundations of our democratic culture are indeed doom from the beginning.

True democracy is based on the gift of freedom, and the gift of freedom comes from the knowledge of truth. "You shall know the truth,” means that truth is attainable; truth is knowledge, truth matters. "The truth shall set you free" means that truth is not abstract and irrelevant, but powerful and liberating. Truth changes everything. Lies kill everything.

We can therefore take heart in the fact that politicians like Hamat Bah have not forgotten that there are serious human rights issues brushed under the carpet by the Jammeh dictatorship that need to be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The democratic culture that the coalition has set itself up to build need to have truth as its foundation. Set the record straight, the innuendo about the murders will die and our society will be better for it.

The events of history are the result of the struggle between two states of mind: one, which wishes to imprison, and the other, which desires to set free. The scene of this tussle in today’s Gambia is represented by the regime of Yaya Jammeh in the former scenario and the NADD coalition representing the later. The decisions we make in the 2006 election will go a long way in determining the type of society we want in that nation for posterity.

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Bushism

If any of you figure out what Bush is saying in the following paragraphs, please clue me in:

"Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it".

read the rest of the speech here

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Another African tragedy in motion…As Reagan is fond of saying “there you go again”.

Story from BBC News

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Huh...

“The Gambia is the closest English speaking West African country to the United States, geographically. In addition, The Gambia has a multi-party democratic form of government, an untapped economy, and vibrant free speech. Moreover, The Gambian Administration welcomes free markets, which are vital to the life blood of any country,’’ ... Abdou Kalley

Is Kalley serious? Where has he been for the last decade? The only truth in that statement is the first sentence. Free speech in the Gambia huh... Reproduced below is an editorial in the Foroyaa newspaper. Compare their grievances with the rosy scenario Kalley is peddling to make a buck. Maybe it is time for the rest of us here to contact our congressional representatives to tell our side of the story. There is nothing wrong with been an enterpreneur; just don't lie about the political and economic climate in the Gambia today.

Foroyaa Newspaper Burning Issues

WHO UNDERMINED THE TRADE SEASON?

THE DANGER OF NARROW NATIONALISM AND PERSONALISATION OF POWER!!

A nation is a collective property. It is governed through collective intelligence. The President, however, has told the nation that he has no adviser; that when he is alone in the night he seeks divine guidance to preside over the affairs of the nation. He even went as far as to say that the opposition did not want the farmers’ crops to be purchased. On the contrary, some opposition members challenged the Secretary of State for Agriculture to explain why they were so adamant in stopping even the small traders from purchasing groundnuts and had gone as far as to give monopoly to a single company to purchase groundnuts. The Secretary of State took the usual narrow nationalist posture of the APRC regime to criticize some so-called Indians who even owed the Central Bank 30 million as well as other banks just to purchase groundnuts with local capital. He gave the impression that Gamco has accounts in many banks and that it had full capacity to purchase the entire groundnut cro! p without any credit buying. He received applause at the National Assembly. FOROYAA, however, counseled over and over again on the dangers of monopoly capitalism. It called for the diversification of marketing outlet so that through competition the most efficient company would win the day. A self-righteous government, however, never listens. It never wants people to know the realistic advice its opponents are making. This is why it does not open up the public media to divergent views. Despite the promises of the Secretary of State for Agriculture the groundnut trade is in shambles. Many farmers could not celebrate their Tobaski feast with relative comfort. They are becoming more and more indebted. By the time their crops are purchased they would simply proceed to pay their loans.

FOROYAA is hundred percent sure that the alleged sacrificial lion did not render the APRC regime incapable of promoting the purchase of groundnuts nor would members of the opposition who would have to give more to feed their extended families wish for a poor harvest or bad trading season. The problem is poor planning and poor management of the groundnut sector. President Jammeh is heading toward his 12th year in office. If he leads a government which would spend over 300 million dalasi of Social Security money to purchase and refurbish a hotel but cannot create a basis for purchasing the main cash crop of the country they should be rightly accused of deliberate negligence of agriculture and deliberate attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the people. They are claiming that the opposition sacrifices lions and bulls to increase the hardships of the people so that they can fish political power out of the economic trouble waters. The government should own u! p to its demonstrated incapacity to solve the marketing problems of our agricultural producers and make honest attempts to engage in diverse consultation to seek for a solution.

Furthermore, the regime should open its eyes to the realities of today’s governance environment. Narrow nationalism is not the answer. The President cannot expect to be held in high esteem outside if he continues to hold the opposition, the press and other stakeholders in contempt and give the impression that any criticism against his regime is motivated by contempt for truth, progress and development. The APRC regime should wake up from its slumber. The world is moving. If it does not wake up it will be left behind.


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Is Africa the next frontier?

During the last election democrats try to make some hay out of the outsourcing issue. The issue has disappeared of the political radar except for Lou Dobbs on CNN.

It looks like Africa may be the next target of corporations lookng for cheap labor. This as is the case with the asian countries will alleviate employment issues in these countries. The downside is that some one somewhere in the United states is losing there job..

The New York Times has an interesting story on this phenomenon.

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Race man?

Senator from Virginia George Allen introduced a bill harshing on the Senate for busting up anti-lynching laws early last century, but the bloggers are all afroth about Allen's history:

It's a laudable bill – but its author has anything but a laudable record on civil rights and racial issues. According to the Associated Press in 2000, Allen was discovered to have been displaying a hangman's noose and the confederate flag in his law office. As governor, Allen "signed a Confederate Heritage Month proclamation without denouncing slavery."

On the plus side, Allen will also draft a new proclamation praising the WB for its positive cultural impact. And hey, his website lists Thomas Jefferson as a political hero, so you know he can't be in favor of treating African Americans like slaves. The GOP's Revisionist History on Civil Rights

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