Cabinet Unveiled

The Point as usual has the details:

By His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Alhaji Dr Yahya A.A.J. Jammeh, acting under the provisions of sections 70 subsection 1, 70 subsection 3, 71 subsection1 and 71 subsection 3 respectively of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, has effected the following cabinet appointments with effect from yesterday, 19 October 2006.

Read the story here

There is not a lot of changes. He move some pieces around on the titanic. Kanja Sanneh (agriculture) and Maba Jobe (foreign affairs) are the only new faces in the cabinet so far with four vacancies still remaining. Lamin Bajo (ex foreign affairs) may still land another post. He has always been cool with Jemus.

Bala jahumpa, Susan Ogoo and sheik hydara might still be returned to their old portfolios of works and communications, Tourism and Justice respectively. Susan, unless she wants to resign is definitely getting her job back. She is family to the boss you know. Or is there a falling out.

 Of all the appointees, Kanja is the only outsider. Until two months ago and except for the ten months he spent in the country in 2005, he has spent most of the last two decades in the united states. Maba Jobe might be new in the cabinet, but his military background gave him some familiarity with the head honcho.

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Cabinet Update

Yahya has appointed a new secretary of state for agriculture. The fate of the ex occupant of that office...Yankuba Touray (also the APRC propaganda Secretary) isn't clear at this moment.

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Jammeh dissolves his cabinet

The point reports:

According to a press release from the Office of the President, His Excellency Dr Alhagie Yahya Jammeh, the president of the Republic of The Gambia, acting under powers conferred on him by section 76 (1) of the Constitution of The Gambia, has dissolved the Cabinet with effect from yesterday, 18th October 2006.

The dissolution precedes the swearing-in of President Jammeh for a third term, which is expected to take place soon.

Too bad he didn't sack himself along with useful idiots that populate his cabinet. That would save the Gambia a lot of grief.

I guess this partly validates the story that the folks at freedomnewspaper were alluding to a few days ago..link.

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Coerced, and tortured

I have been busy lately moving hundreds of servers, storage units and security apparatus to our newly built server room. I have been lobbying for this relocation for the past four years and finally got one built this year. The new room is spacious and very well ventilated. The late nights calls I have been getting because of production issues associated with the old server room's ventilation should be a thing of the past.

As with any complicated move, I am still working on the kinks that are associated with it and thus the lull in postings.

Browsing through the Point today, a story on the court martial of Captain Yahya Darbo caught my eye. I wish I can say I told you so, but the abuse and indignity suffered by the victims will make your blood boil. This was what I wrote in march when these guys were paraded on national television and forced (in my opinion) to make confessions:

The Daily Observer ( here and here) has a run down of confessionals that the "alleged" coup plotters in the Gambia made. Yep thats right "alleged". For all we know these people could've been tortured or threaten with torture to make those statements. Their confessionals in my opinion lend credence to my suspicion. All roads in this convoluted affair leads to Ndure Cham. Everyone keep harking back to what he told them. And since he is not around to refute them and the government is hellbent on punishing someone, they parade these people on television to narrate some scheme that they were supposedly part of...confessions

And this is the confession Captain Yahya Darbo made on television:

Explaining his knowledge about the March 22 foiled coup d’etat, Captain Yahya Darboe, adjutant at the Yundum Barracks recalled that “it was around 6:45 or 7:00, I was at the Farafenni Barracks working there as the 2IC. When I watched a football match on Saturday, I came back. My CO told me that the C.D.S called and said he will come to the Barracks Monday; first parade (8:00 a:am). He said I should use my vehicle and we go there on Monday 8:00 a am. On Sunday, I reported to work normally. I closed from work and then went home.”

Capt Darboe then said that it was on Tuesday, “Around 9:00 a am or 10: 00 a am, I saw Capt Wassa Camara, who entered my office. I said welcome and he said thank you. He pulled out D800 all in notes and then gave it to me. He said the C.D.S said let me give you this. I said for what? He said don’t mind. The C.D.S said he will talk to you later. I took it and then we start having breakfast together. And the he left. I was there until around 11:00 a am, when my wife called and said she could not cook, because she was sick. So I took permission from my CO, Major Bah and then I left home.”

“I was there till around 2:00 p m or 4:00 p m, when Capt Camara called to say I am going to have lunch with you today. I said OK. You are welcome. I am almost ready. Around 2:30 p m, he came and we had the lunch together. After the lunch, we left one soldier at my backyard. He said lets see. We went in front of my house and he said didn’t C.D.S called you still. I said not yet. I am not yet called,” he added.

According to him, it was after sometimes, when Capt Camara asked him about SoS Edward Singhatey’s residence. “I said of course, he is staying at Cape Point. He said no, you are lost. He said that man is not staying at Cape Point now. I said I don’t know. He said they said he is living at Brusubi, here. I said Brusubi is in Phase 1 and 2. I said I am in Phase 2, but I do not know whether he is in Phase 1. I do not know. He said they said he is staying around here. I said OK, the only place he might stay and I point to my right direction. I said there is a compound there that has electricity 24hrs and you have private guards’ there- Uncle Sam or so. I said somebody said to me the last time he is staying there, but I do not know. May be he is the one staying there. He said OK, I will find out.”

YMS Darboe, as he is fondly called, said both of them returned to drink Attaya (China green tea), before Capt Camara parted with him. He recollected: “I was there up till around 4: p m, when Capt Camara called me and said C.D.S said you meet him at the Brusubi main junction at 5:30 p m. I said did he say that? He said he said it. I said OK, no problem. I think it was around 4:45 p m, when I departed my house and went to where he said I should meet. I was there around 4:55 p m sitting but no body was coming.

Nobody came, and then I decided to buy a scratch card from a nearby shop. Then I loaded by mobile and called Capt Camara, because I do not have the C.D.S number. I told him I am here up till around 5:00 p m and this man is not here still. I said can you tell him that I am still waiting and he said I will call. I do not know whether he called or not. After some 20mins or so, there was nobody coming. I called Capt Camara again. I said please call C.D.S; tell him I am still waiting. He said OK, I will call. Then nobody appeared again. Just around 20mins or 30mins, I called Camara again. I said please, tell him that I am going. He can call me and I will call him back. He said he (Col Cham) said is just around there and he will soon be with you. I said Ok.”

“Immediately that call, a vehicle came. I was even expecting a Gaf vehicle as I was looking around. Then he (Col Cham) came out, after I trying to look somewhere. I saw him and I said sir, I am here. He said ah haa, come. I came and then he said jump in. Then I got in the vehicle and he said where is your home located. I said the other direction, if you lead left towards Brufut,” Darboe narrated.

He then further explained: “We went to the main junction, where you have Gamjuice “tabler” (billboard) that goes to my house straight. He said Ok, no need for you to go to your home. I said you wanted to see me? He said yes. He said don’t you know what is happening today. I said what is happening today. He said we are going to take this country today. I asked, are the NIA informed about this? He said yes. The reason why I asked this is because I have a lot of friends in the NIA. He said yeh, they are aware of this. I said OK.”

And this is what he is saying in court now:

Capt. Yahya Darboe, one of the alleged coup plotters currently on court martial, yesterday testified in the Voir Dire to determine the voluntariness of his earlier statement.

In his testimony, Capt. Yaya Darboe told the general court martial that he was arrested on 21st March 2006 at home and taken directly to the Mile 2 central prison. He said at mile 2 he was taken to the confidence room where he was stripped of his clothes and searched, before being taken to the security wing where he was confined to a cell alone.

He further narrated that at around midnight on 22nd March, 2006, he was removed from Mile 2 and taken to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) office in Banjul. He said on the way to the NIA offices, he was handcuff and placed on a black pickup vehicle where officers wearing black military uniform started insulting and slapping him.

Capt. Darboe added that at the NIA office he was handed to someone who called himself Hell Manager. This officer, he continued, announced to him that he had come to hell fire. He adduced that at the NIA office he was subjected to severe torture, apparently with a view to extracting what pleases them.

Capt. Darboe informed the court martial that his statement was not obtained voluntarily but under severe torture...The Point

For the sake of disclosure, I know Captain Darbo. We lived in closed proximity in Fagikunda in the late eighties to early nineties. Graduated from high school in the same year and infact study at the same library for our exams. He is a little bit older than me, but hang out with my older cousin and thus I interacted with him a lot during this period. He is personally affable and very good natured.

I didn't believe he was making that statement out of his own volition then and now my suspicion that torture was visited upon him and the other alleged coup plotters has been confirmed. Torture doesn't get the truth out of the victim. Most of what you get out of a tortured victim is what he/she thought you want to hear. My heart go out to Yahya and all those tortured victims of Yahya Jammeh's gulag.

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NAWEC

Could this be the straw that breaks the camels back? The perenial power shortage that has plague Gambians for almost two decades could be a thing of the past if you believe what the managing director of a German management firm task with whipping NAWEC into shape has to say in this point story:

Speaking at the signing ceremony at state House, Mr Muhammad Bazzi assured that in the next six months the electricity problem would be a thing of the past. He revealed that in the next two months they would install another 20 megawatts capacity. He said that by the 15th of October, the third generator would start operation. According to him they would be giving out 19 megawatts by the 15th of October.
I sincerely hope his management team do a better job than MSG (management service Gambia). They took over the GUC (Gambia Utilities corporation) or as we used call to it Gambia useless corporation and make it worst. NAWEC took over from MSG and power issues have not relented since.

Power has been a headache for not only the APRC, but the PPP couldn't tackle it during their thirty year rein either. However the first step to solving any problem is to admit that it exist in the first place. Yahya Jammeh has taken that first step when he is quoted as saying the following at the signing ceremonies:
For his part, President Jammeh lamented that if there is any sector that his government has failed in delivering to expectation throughout his reign, it is the energy sector, especially with regards to electricity and water.

Governemnts are not the best providers of services. The bureaucratic weight usually hinders quality of service. However parastatals such as NAWEC are cash cows for African governements, thus Yahya is reluctant in privatising NAWEC out right. He put it in this terms:

President Jammeh however made it clear that NAWEC still remains to be a national company, adding that the contract only covers electricity generation and that everything continues to be under their duty and responsibility...point

Government and private partnerships have work well in western Europe. I hope this new partnership between the government of the Gambia and German management company resolve the electricity crisis in the Gambia. The country will be better for it.

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What am I

All political discourse on Gambian online forums (especially amongst opposition supporters) has deteriorated into taking sides - not in the context of a particular issue, but in the Manichean sense of are you a supporter of the original NADD project or are you for the UDP/NRP alliance. It is increasingly difficult to take a nuanced stance on any topic when it comes to opposition politics in the Gambia. So try to find out where I stand.

I do not support the withdrawal of the UDP/NRP from the NADD alliance. However when they did, I fully supported their right to association. If we are going to build a truly democratic society, we should be tolerant of others right to choose what they want, notwithstanding the extent to which we disagree with their decisions.

I fully support the need for PDOIS (NADD’s biggest constituent party today) to forcefully espouse the virtues of enlightenment in the electorate, but oppose the contorted lengths their supporters will go to malign the characters of those who disagree with them as unpatriotic.

I am a believer in values such as honesty, forgiveness, trust and tolerance. However, I oppose extremist of any nature (be they religious or political). Both parties to NADD have broken a tenet of these values along the way and since the breakup. The vitriol displayed is sometimes stupid considering that both alliances lost the presidential elections. The status quo characterized by cronyism, nepotism and brutality remains intact and arguably strengthened by the results. Instead of formulating ideas to undermine that stranglehold, opposition camps are harking back and forth at trying to lay blame on each other for their woeful showing at the polls. Get over it guys, we lost and will lost again if we don’t learn anything from the previous six months: that obtusely clinging to ego will not get anyone anywhere. Pragmatism is what makes great political movements.

I am a firm believer in the capitalist system of competition, but was flabbergasted at the rhetoric employed by all presidential aspirants during the run up to the elections. They promised the electorate everything under the sky, instead of calling on the ingenuity of their countrymen. It was all a bash of feel good rhetoric with no basis in macroeconomics.

Do I believe government has a role to ameliorate poverty and its effects? You bet. What I don’t like and in fact despise is candidates to political office bamboozling the electorate with grand schemes that will not come to pass. Both candidates did that in one form or another. Instead of promising to buy farmers produce, why don’t they promise to institute policies that will foster an environment where private entities could fill the void. Governments and the bureaucracy they entail are not the best machinery for the undertakings that is needed to market our farmers produce.

Despite what the UDP/NRP alliance might be saying, the electorate has spoken. Do I like the result? No, but I agree with the electorates right to decide the nature of society they want to live in. If the process leading to the election was fraudulent, they should have not participated in it. Somebody should have figure out that you don’t play in a flawed game and cry foul at the result.

I think I have managed to piss off both parties to the September 22 poll. What label should I apply to myself? I consider myself a concerned Gambian, but opinion been what it is, you go ahead and label me.

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