By Kebba Jeffang
Halifa Sallah, the Spokesperson of the Incoming Coalition Government, has told journalists that the office of the President-Elect Adama Barrow is very much concerned about the recent closure of radio stations and the arrest of individuals and therefore calls on the outgoing government to improve its human rights record by releasing all those who have been detained without trial as part of the process of a smooth transfer of power.
Sallah, who was speaking on behalf of the president-elect at a press conference at Kairaba beach hotel on Tuesday, January 03, 2017, said the office of the incoming President had written to the Outgoing President to request for the opening of communication so that agreements could be reached on a transitional agenda that would ensure the release of those who are detained without trial and prevent any new arrests and detentions without due process.
“The Office of the Incoming President regrets that the climate of cooperation which commenced after Outgoing President Jammeh accepted the results of the 1st December 2016 Elections is evaporating after he changed his original position,” said Sallah.
He noted that the office of the Incoming President wants it to be known that it does not want to inherit a country where media freedom is fettered and human rights violated with impunity, adding that this is why it intends to do everything it could to prevail on the institutions of the state to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens.
“The Media, especially, are the eyes of the government and the people in any country that values Democracy, Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights. Suppression of the Media would lead to a society of uncertainty. This is why the Office of the Incoming President is concerned about the current situation,” he said.
The Spokesperson said it has come to the attention of the Office of the President Elect through media reports and other sources that two Radio stations are closed down by men who claimed to be acting on behalf of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He said the liberty of two individuals are also at stake in connection with T Shirts bearing the slogan “#GambiaHasDecided. “Alpha Sey, a resident of Kotu Quarry, is reported to be picked up and transported in a vehicle near the traffic lights at Kairaba Avenue on the 31st of December, 2016 for wearing a T Shirt with the slogan “#GambiaHasDecided” by a pickup.” He added
“Wandifa Kanyi, is reported to be arrested and taken away by five men who identified themselves as agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) yesterday, 2 January, 2017 around 3pm in connection with the sale of T Shirts with the slogan #GambiaHasDecided.”
Continuing, Mr. Sallah said “Furthermore, Taranga FM, a community radio located at SinchuAlaji Village in West Coast Region (WCR), is reported to have been closed down again for the third time on Sunday 1st January, 2017 by four men who claimed to be operatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Hilltop FM radio station, situated at Sukuta Lambai junction in the West Coast Region (WCR), is reported to be closed down by three men identifying themselves as personnel of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on Sunday, 1st January 2017.The Office of the Incoming President is fully convinced that the opening of the Media since the campaign period has contributed to a more informed citizenry and a more informed country. It is a sign of weakness for any side of the political spectrum to resort to Media closures rather than engagement to put one’s position across.”
He said in the same vein, slogans on T Shirts have nothing, to do and will not upset the existing political balance in the country, adding that such slogans could not be stretched in any way to constitute a destabilization agenda or a crime. He said the Coalition is in full control of its support base and has a clear agenda that no one could derail.
Mr. Sallah added that the office of the Incoming President is therefore calling on the Office of the Outgoing President to improve its human rights record.
“Secondly, the Director General of The NIA is being requested to review the reports of the recent arrests and ensure due process to improve the image of his institution during this transition process. Thirdly, it has come to the notice of the Office of the Incoming President that a mechanism for solving post electoral challenges has been established comprising all the leaders of political parties, the Permanent Secretary, Minister of the Interior, Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector General of Police, DG, NIA and DG, Drug Law Enforcement Agency,” he said.
He said the office Office of the Incoming President calls on the UNDP to host a meeting of the Inter-Party Committee in the face of the crisis surrounding the IEC and the Security Chiefs to discuss and address the post Electoral challenges so that tensions could be effaced and peaceful co-existence assured until a peaceful transfer of power could be effected.
“Openness and dialogue are the traits that Gambia needs at the moment and not media closures and arbitrary arrests and detentions All should pledge their firm allegiance to be ever true to the Gambia and make our people to live in liberty and happiness and never become a bully of our own people to make them live in captivity and fear,” Sallah concluded.