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The Daily Observer's editorial having ran out of ideas decided to published the hacked contents of Panderry Mbai's contact list. Apart from the fact that the list was obtained through a criminal act (hacking), publishing the names and contact information of individuals and calling them informers could be libelous. How did the Daily Observers editorial maintain that these people are the sources behind the freedom newspapers stories? The lack of judgement displayed by the editorial is turning into a nightmare for certain people whose only crime is that they happen to know Panderry.The police couldn't help themselves. They have release the following press release:

The Gambia Police Force has called on those whose names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses were published as informers to Pa Nderry Mbai, the publisher of the online newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, to report to the nearest police station within 24 hours.

According to a release issued by the police yesterday, failure to comply with this directive will result in immediate arrest and prosecution.The release concludes by soliciting the cooperation of the general public. Below we reproduce the full text of the release:

1. Following Pa Nderry Mbai’s declaration on Tuesday 23rd May, 2006 that he has decided to stop producing his on- line Freedom News Paper, and subsequent revelation of his sources of information, the general public is hereby informed that the Security Services are in possession of the full list of persons who continuously supplied him (Pa Nderry) with information, which he used to castigate and vilify the democratically-elected government of His Excellency, President Dr Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh.

2. Consequently, all those whose names, addresses, telephone numbers and E-mail addresses appear in the said list and published in the Daily Observer News paper edition of Thursday 25th May 2006, are hereby urged to report to the nearest police station within twenty- four hours.

3. Failure to comply will result in immediate arrest and prosecution.

4. The cooperation of the general public is highly solicited.

These people are not serious. Panderry was the victim of cyber vandalism. He never wrote what they are attributing to him. The observer editorial knew this. However for reasons best known to them, they decided to publish the names of innocent citizens. The police having nothing important to do decided to use the same tainted information to scare innocent people. Talk about a police state...literally.

We've got so many people hurt in the political mudslinging that happened and continued after UDP/NRP withdrew from NADD. Egos were bruised along the way. So what? Politics is not for the faint of heart and all the opposition figures in the Gambia knew that all along.

The initial NADD project failed for a variety of reasons. We could either sit here and debate ad inifinitum who is at fault or we could put our heads together to fight another day. The later approach is what Dr. Saine took in a speech he gave in Louisville at a NADD fund raiser. The premise after all is that it is never too late to do the right thing in order to positively impact the future. I hope the opposition leaders and their supporters on the ground will yield to reason and come together for the benefit of all. There is no guarantee that together they will win in october, but there is strenght in unity.

Here is Dr. Saine's speech:

How did we get ourselves into this Mess; the Opposition’s Political impasse: Which Way Forward?
By Abdoulaye Saine
Hamilton, OH, USA

The forthcoming presidential election of 2006 is a defining factor in the politics of The Gambia, bearing the promise of a choice of regime to ordinary Gambians for a new democratic dispensation under the leadership of a reconfigured new alliance between the NADD and UDP/NRP.

NADD was established on 17 January by five major opposition parties, which to this purpose signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in preparation for the October 2006 presidential polls. This was partly in response to the 2003 changes in the national constitution to a first-past-the-post presidential election process in place of the second run-off election option. Clearly, this electoral change favors the APRC presidential candidate, Yahya Jammeh. Also, growing political pressure from Diaspora Gambians in the United States, Europe and, in particular, Britain, beginning in 2003, perhaps earlier, contributed to the formation of NADD and its overseas official launching in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2005. A lot is at stake in the forthcoming October presidential elections; this against a backdrop of growing tension between the ruling APRC party, opposition political parties and political leaders.

The Commonwealth-initiated inter-party dialogue by the former Nigerian military ruler General Abdul Salami Abubakar did not produce the desired result of political reconciliation. The objective, among other things, was to get the APRC and the opposition parties to sign an MoU that would ensure regular consultation amongst them under the auspices of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). It was hoped misunderstanding amongst different party supporters would be minimized, and in doing so, reduce the prospects for political violence during the presidential campaigns and elections of 2006. This was not to be as relations between the government and the NADD continued to worsen, in spite of Jammeh’s call for political reconciliation.

In July 2005, the NADD was dealt a severe blow when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the ruling APRC and expelled from the National Assembly, Hamat Bah, Kemesseng Jammeh, Sidia Jatta and Halifa Sallah, all NADD executive members. The ruling party contended and the Supreme Court agreed that the four opposition leaders could not belong to the NADD, (a registered party) while simultaneously retaining their previous party affiliations and seats in the National Assembly. In the subsequent by-elections held on 29 September, all the NADD opposition leaders, except Hamat Bah, regained their National Assembly seats. Bah lost his seat amidst allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation. The NADD sued in the Supreme Court contesting Hamat’s defeat.

On the eve of the by-elections, the NADD scored a major victory against the IEC (and by extension, the APRC government) for its decision to allow voters to only show an ID, rather than a voter’s card to cast their ballot. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the NADD, in spite of the fact that the courts as well as the IEC are generally perceived as supporters of the ruling APRC government. Despite the NADD’s political gains, however, its fragile alliance, ongoing internal power struggles and selection difficulties over a presidential candidate, lead to its unravelling. In January 2006, Ousainou Darboe, an executive member of NADD and leader of the UDP, resigned amidst his allegations of “mistrust, “insincerity,” and “hate” within the NADD’s executive. The NADD’s Chairman, Alhaji Assan Musa Camara, and a handful of PPP executive NADD members, including Musa Drammeh, resigned shortly thereafter and threw their weight behind the UDP. Meanwhile, Jammeh continued his control and use of the National NIA to repress the opposition.

A case in point occurred on 15 November, when the NIA arrested three NADD executive members following their criticism of the APRC government and President Jammeh himself. The three, (Omar Jallow (a.k.a. OJ), Halifa Sallah, the NADD’s Coordinator and National Assembly member, and Hamat Bah accused Jammeh of political intolerance, corruption and mismanagement. The trio further challenged Jammeh to provide evidence that the opposition sought to foment discord/war between The Gambia and Senegal over Senegal’s border closure. The two-month border closure (August-October 2005) resulted from President Jammeh’s unilateral fee increase for trucks at ferry crossings into Casamance. It took the personal and diplomatic initiatives of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to resolve the border conflict at a meeting on 21 October in Dakar between the two heads of state. It also took the combined efforts of international and domestic human rights organizations and activists to get the three NADD executive members released. By the time they were set free on 13 December 2005, however, the NADD had been dealt a significant setback as selection of a presidential candidate was further delayed.

In addition, the daily interrogation of the three at NIA headquarters and their appearance in court used up what little funds the NADD had to launch it’s eagerly anticipated rally to announce its flag-bearer.

Thus, while the formation of the NADD as well as growing international and domestic pressures on President Jammeh bode well for future democracy and security, a lot remained to be done before the October presidential polls. In addition to the issue of a standard-bearer for the opposition, the lack of a level playing field, a non-partisan and reconfigured IEC to allow for NADD representation, franchise for Gambians living abroad and the presence of international observers remained issues to be addressed. Financial support from the Diaspora to foot NADD’s election bill also grew bleaker the longer its executive took to select its candidate. Amidst this political impasse and challenges, Darboe resigned from the NADD executive.

Darboe’s resignation in January 2006, contrary to the pronouncements he made in Chicago in September 2005, following the July visit of some NADD executive members in the US, was another blow against NADD. It was also a disappointment to those who had worked tirelessly for a united front against Jammeh in preparation for 2006. For those who supported Darboe, however, the UDP leader had exhausted all options and was, in the end, left with no alternatives.

It seems Darboe’s unwillingness to accept a process that could have lead to the selection of Omar Jallow as the NADD’s presidential candidate, was the primary reason for his resignation. It also appeared, however, that Darboe had legitimate concerns about his political colleagues in addition to the legal basis on which the alliance was built. In the latter case, he was vindicated by the July Supreme Court Decision that expelled the sitting National Assembly members.
Also, the political fallout between Darboe and Waa Juwara spilled-over into and further muddied the waters within NADD. Yet, it seems that if Darboe had any prior indication that the selection process would have favoured him, it is probable that he would have remained in the NADD, in spite of his initial misgivings. Amidst the clamour, a UDP/NRP alliance was beginning to crystallize and shortly after the NADD announced Halifa Sallah as its presidential candidate.

The UDP/NRP alliance, however, appeared to have already stolen its thunder and NADD risked being rendered politically irrelevant. However, this was not to be as the NADD’s political rallies that were held in Brikama, Sukuta as well as this evening’s gala in Louisville and yesterday’s in Atlanta attracted considerable support.

For the ruling APRC and other sceptics alike, however, the split within the NADD had been predicted; an alliance of self- interested politicians, with divergent political views, interests and strategies, they argued, could never set aside their differences to help build and sustain an alliance. The split within the NADD emboldened the APRC, President Jammeh and his group of political pundits who seized the opportunity to further discredit Darboe, OJ and the other politicians. To Jammeh and his propagandists, the choice to the Gambian people was clear because the disintegration of NADD, which only a few months ago posed a major threat to his rule, made the presidential election outcome a foregone conclusion. Then the 21 March, 2006, alleged foiled coup and its theatrical aftermath gripped the country.

The events of 21 March undoubtedly shook Jammeh’s confidence to the core. Apparently spearheaded by the military brass of the Gambia National Army (GNA), the alleged foiled coup was the culmination of The Gambia’s deepening political, economic and social crises under President Yahya Jammeh. It also, without doubt, exposed the internal cleavages within the army as well as the APRC’s dwindling support. More important, the alleged foiled coup highlighted the APRC’s inability to reverse the country’s rapid descent into the ranks of “failed states.”

The coup revealed yet another crisis, however. This time, it is a crisis of confidence in the political process and disappointment over the splintering of the NADD. To the alleged military brass and their civilian conspirators, the split within the NADD ended what little hope there was to dislodge Jammeh in the forthcoming October 2006 presidential elections.

Where do we go from here?

For many Gambians, however, not all hope is lost. A UDP/NRP alliance and Halifa Sallah’s selection as the NADD’s presidential candidate sparked renewed hope for a new and stronger alliance. The Kombo-East by-election results suggested that the UDP/ NRP alliance alone cannot defeat Jammeh in October, even though the UDP/NRP appear to have supported their claim- that outside the ruling APRC, they are the majority party. And for the NADD, the prospects of victory in October appear bleaker. Together, however, a UDP/NRP and a NADD alliance could have won the Kombo-East seat. Thus, the two entities desperately need each other.

It appears that a carefully renegotiated new alliance between NADD and the UDP/NRP could spell victory in October’s presidential elections. Against this political reality Gambians opposed to Jammeh’s continued rule demand that UDP/NRP and the NADD to immediately begin talks in order to revisit/amend the MoU. Political leaders must also promptly reconcile their political and personal differences.

Clearly, the Darboe resignation and the alleged foiled coup, gave rise to a period of soul searching among Gambians every where regarding the future of The Gambia. It led to intense debate and discussion of various strategies and options that could serve as a foundation upon which a new alliance could be built between the two existing UDP/NRP and NADD political entities. From that dialogue and discussion by a politically diverse constituency of Gambians emerged the following proposals:

(1) Establish a UDP/NRP and NADD Alliance to contest the October Presidential

(2) Select Ousainou Darboe or Halifa Sallah as its flag bearer;

(3) Establish a Sallah/Darboe or a Darboe/Sallah ticket;

(4) Upon victory, establish a government of National Unity with proportional
representation in cabinet of all constituent parties; (It may not be unwise to agree,
upfront, on the distribution of cabinet positions to avoid individual interpretation of
“Proportional representation”);

(5) The incumbent president and other political-party leaders can, if they wish, contest subsequent presidential elections; and,

(6) Establish two technical committees to iron-out the details, which when signed would
be binding to all the parties. (Technical committees should be clearly spelt out prior
to the re-signing of the revised/amended MoU).

The primary benefit of a Darboe/Sallah or a Sallah/Darboe ticket is the appeal it is likely to have on a larger voting constituency and reduce individual political vulnerabilities. In turn, this would positively showcase their collective strengths. A Sallah/ Darboe or a Darboe/Sallah ticket would also enable the new alliance to strategize, pool resources and effectively mount a campaign for the October presidential elections.

A speedy conclusion to these negotiations by June 30, 2006 is crucial because Jammeh and the APRC have been dealt a severe blow by the alleged foiled coup and, therefore, remain vulnerable, politically. Despite this fact, however, victory even with a new alliance is not assured and is daunting. Yet, this opportunity must be seized immediately. Furthermore, renegotiating a new alliance is going to require caution and tact as well as thoughtful strategies to reintroduce the new alliance to the electorate. Expected APRC criticism and accusations of “disunity” and “opportunism” within the new coalition, must be countered with strong and compelling arguments.

In conclusion, despite the political differences that divide the opposition, we must not loose sight of the common interest that we share- peacefully and democratically removing Jammeh, not a coup d’etat. All political leaders and parties, together, must begin a new chapter to engender healing and reconciliation amongst themselves and their supporters in The Gambia and Diaspora. This is the way forward and the only way to victory in October.

I've found the spectacle of whining executives upset that critics like me are not interested in seriously talking about their achievements to be rather hilarious. Aside from the obvious - don't spit in my face and then ask me to seriously consider the aesthetics of the experience - as I was treated during the Salieu Jeng episode, it isn't as if the executives generally go out of their way to inform their membership of what is transpiring behind the scenes. If they communicate effectively, then they wouldn’t have to worry about me divulging the treachery of Tijan Ceesay and the subsequent fund raising drought they claimed came as a result of that post. That is the price paid for group think and unnecessary secrecy.

My relationship with Michigambia is not adversarial but critical. Even though I value the friendships of a few associates than the Gambian association, I will always give the devil his/her due. Case in point is this offensive that the executive undertook to lay claim to the medical supplies shipped to the Gambia from the treacherous claws of sycophants like Tijan Ceesay. The best defense is a good offense and to that end executives of Michigan should be commended for taking the initiative in laying claim to the efforts of their members by getting this press release to be published in the Point newspaper putting tricksters on notice that they will not be robbed of their dues.

Gambia Association of Michigan Secures $28 M Medical Supplies for Gambia
Friday 19th May 2006

The Gambia Association of Michigan has recently secured D28 Million worth of medical supplies and equipment from World Medical Relief, Inc., a charity organization in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Half of the medical supplies, which filled a 40ft container, has been shipped to The Gambia since 24 April 2006. These medical supplies and equipment are intended to benefit hospitals in The Gambia including Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul, Sulayman Junkung General Hospital in Bwiam, Western Division, AFPRC Hospital in Farafenni, North Bank Division and Bansang Hospital in Central River Division
…. Click here to read the rest of the press release.

Reading through the press release, this passage jumped at me:

Mr Jah also thanked Mr Tijan Masanneh Ceesay for all his support and timely responses to all his correspondences and facilitating the shipment on behalf of the Gambian Embassy in Washington DC.

On behalf of the Gambian embassy caught my attention. I couldn’t fathom why it was on their behalf rather than that of Michigambia. Then I had a jolt of memory that this post of mine was in fact accurate in describing how Michigambia nearly lost control of these items. Frantic phone calls were made to reclaim ownership and the executive should be commended for standing up to a sycophant before he gobble up the venture and reap the fruits of Michigambia’s labor.

The Kombo East by-election as predicted here has been won by the ruling APRC. It doesn't take a psychic to predict that one. The final vote tally was:

Jung Conteh (APRC) 3,365
Lamin Darbo (UDP/NRP) 2,814
Momodou Lamin Touray (NADD) 1,109

The results manifest what most of us loud mouths have been saying for quite sometime,that the opposition divided as they are today will be drawing from the same pool of supporters albeit the bigger slice. The same fate awaits them at the presidential polls come october.

The reactions of the opposition figures to the election results are so telling. Lamin Waa Juwara, who never miss a chance to run his mouth at UDP/NRP alliance didn't disappoint this time either. Here is what he told the point:

An executive member of the opposition National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) has said the pull-out of the UDP and the NRP from the alliance led to their defeat in the 14 May by-election in Kombo East.

Mr Waa Juwara, who was speaking to The Point yesterday in a telephone conversation, said the defeat will teach the United Democratic Pary (UDP) and the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) that NADD is the only solution or answer to countering whatever scheme the ruling APRC party may employ in any elections.

“The UDP/NRP alliance has learnt a lesson that they alone cannot do it,” Juwara said, adding that unity is strength and power...point

I will like to think that every member of the opposition learnt a lesson, but not if you subscribe to what Juwara has to say. In his demagoguery he past that lesson on to the UDP/NRP alliance. Everything is jolly with NADD huh? Juwara is smart enough to know that you can only bluff your opponent from a vantage point of strenght. The results doesn't bode well for NADD. The UDP/NRP alliance has twice as much support as NADD and trailed the ruling party by few hundred votes. That counts for something. No?

Waa and other NADD supporters keep calling on the UDP/NRP alliance to come back to NADD. What you never heard them say is for NADD to join the alliance. What is so hard about that? If unity is all they want, then joining a much bigger group is the way to go.

In his reaction to the election results, Ousainou Darbo is reported as saying the folowing:

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) yesterday said the 14 May Kombo East by-election was a defeat for the ruling APRC party, as the majority of the voters in the constituency voted against the APRC...point

What is Mr. Darbo smoking? Defeat for the APRC? In what sense? Is this some kind of twisted logic taught at law schools? But I guess he is just trying to massage the pain of defeat that the opposition clearly suffered. A win is a win is a win...capice.

However Mr. Darbo did come around to acknowledging what critics of a divided opposition have been saying all along when he said the following:

However, when it was put to him that some people are of the belief that the opposition could not win the election because they are divided, Mr Darboe said “it is an argument that one cannot brush aside”.

I hope these guys get pragmatic and soon. They've already realized that they needed each other to win in october. It will take a pragmatic attitude on the part of all concerned to come together for a country. Obtuse adherence to Ideology and ego has only gotten us so far.

Click on the document to enlarge and read.

Reproduced above is a letter sent to Michigambia by the Gambia Embassy. This blog post is a follow up to the post I made here . Michigambia finally get an acknowledgement of their efforts and the allegations that they may have been conned by the embassy proved false. I think it is incumbent on me to let my readers know of this development. The letter is dated April 24th, 2006, eight days before I wrote my post and Michigambia got a fax copy from the embassy on May 9th, 2006. The events that transpired between the publication of my post and the receipt of the fax letter makes me wonder if my post may have awakened some executives members to demand a letter from the embassy to this effect. But I digress.

I still stand behind the other issues raised in the post, vis-a-vis, the deletion of Cherno Baba's Corner, and the fact that the Government will milk this donation for political purposes. Since Michigambia is a non-political entity and want to donate directly to hospitals why is the shipment been sent to the office of the president? Inquiring minds will like to know.

Last January, I was treated like a skunk at a party, for having the audacity in forwarding Salieu Jeng’s infamous post at Allgambian website to the Michi-Gambia mailing list. What bothered me then is not only the censorship allegation made in the post, but also the notion that it is made at the behest of some unnamed Gambian official. Alieu Nyassi in a fit of rage responded thus: “Any one who wants to write anything can do so and they can post it on any website or create their own. GAM will not be utilized to carry anyone's political message”. Our resident Sherlock Holmes in the person of Ramou decided to do the detective work and came out with the culprit when she asserts: “taking a look at the sender, it is from  Ousman ceesay to samba Johm. These are people who live here with us”. Libeling Samba and I as the two pricks without cojones behind the prank. And not to be left behind in addition to the pomposity that belies comprehension Sirra chimes in to let us know who is the boss. Those were the days.

But time some one once opined is the great arbiter. I have no way of substantiating Salieu Jengs comment that an unnamed official is behind the shenanigans, but one thing is clear for all to see: Cherno Baba’s corner at Michi-Gambia has been deleted at about the same time that the Gambia Embassy offered to help in shipping the medical equipment secured by Michigambia to the Gambia. Coincidence? Maybe. But the timing stinks to high heaven.

To add insult to injury, the talk making the grapevine has it that the executive of Michigambia had transferred the ownership of the medical equipments to the embassy to facilitate shipping. But the unintended consequence of this action is that the michigambia executive has since been double cross, conned (or whatever adjective you can come up with) by representatives of our own government. The Gambia embassy is not only claiming ownership for shipping purposes, I am told, but they are claiming to be the facilitators of the whole venture. The representative in the person Tijan Ceesay alias ‘Eku Boppa’ has already arrived in Banjul waiting to present the shipment to dear leader (Yahya Jammeh) on behalf of the Gambia Embassy. Which conjures up another issue: the non-partisan mantra of Michigambia. The executive told us that the shipment will be sent directly to three designated hospitals as soon as they clear customs. However with the Gambia embassy taking credit for the efforts of Gambians in Michigan, that non-partisan stance they (the executive) belabor so much about and went as far as pulling Cherno Baba’s articles for is well just that … wishful thinking. The government in this election year will squeeze as much political goodwill as they possibly could from the efforts of a non-partisan entity.

I have trouble believing the executive of Michigambia could be so obtuse as to allow themselves be outwitted by the likes of Tijan Ceesay. But the way events are unfolding, he might have pull a fast one on our able executives who never forget to remind us of their duties when they wrote: “Whatever the case may be, we are assuring you that whenever we meet as an executive the interest of the association and the community as a whole is our utmost concern and there is no doubt in our sincerity in serving the Michigan Gambian Community as an executive.”

Don’t forget that “interest of the association” is the operational word here. If what is been rumored turns out to be true ( at this moment, I have no reason to believe otherwise), what interest is it to Michigambia as an entity that someone is taking credit for the fruits of their labor? Time one more time will be the final arbiter.

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