The Birth Of A Web Site

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | comments

26 May 2008 marked the birth of Gambia affairs website namely,

In a country voices resides in the people. An independent people are the architects of their own destiny. Their voices must not be silent.Their minds must not yield to slumber. They must stand vigil and exercise permanent scrutiny on how the affairs of their country are managed.

The voices of the people must have authority to determine the policies and programmes of government which manage their affairs. The government must be transparent and accountable to its people. The Gambia Affairs blog will aim to be the vehicle on which the Gambian people can travel towards greater transparency.
This blog is written by journalists from different Gambian newspapers.

Gambia Affairs: UK Urges Gambia to Halt Executions

Monday, August 27, 2012 | comments

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt speaks during a news conference in Algiers June 24, 2012. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

The British Foreign office minister, Alistair Burt Saturday issued a press release urging the government of The Gambia to withhold all execution exercise it intended to execute.

The UK's Foreign Office statement came on the heels of local and international reports that the Gambian authorities have executed nine inmate, one woman and two Senegalese. The execution romour spread following President Yahya Jammeh's recent remarks to execute all those who committed murder and were sentenced to death by law.

Below is the press release circulated by the British embassy in Banjul: "I am deeply concerned over reports that nine prisoners on death row in The Gambia have been executed following comments by President Jammeh that all death row prisoners would now be executed.The Gambia has not carried out any executions since 1981. I urge the Gambian authorities to halt any further executions.The UK Government opposes all use of the death penalty as a matter of principle."

Ethiopian government outlaws Voice over IP (VOIP): 15-year prison sentences possible

Saturday, June 16, 2012 | comments

By Patrick Roanhouse

Troubling news is coming out of East Africa this week. International media site Al Jazeera has just picked up that on May 24th 2012, Ethiopia ratified new legislation called the 'Ethiopian Telecom Service Infringement Law'. The Legislation criminalizes any third-party Internet services not run by the state controlled telecom monopoly, Ethio Telecom, with Skype being a focus. However, the ban affects other services, such as Google Talk.

The new telecom law is meant to impede Internet telephony, with reported punishments of heavy fines and 8 to 15 years in prison if caught. The legislation prohibits all network telephony traffic, along with audio and video data traffic via social media, reports the The Africa Review.
In order to catch people, Ethio Telecom has implemented brand new "deep packet" inspecting services to filter its citizens' Net access to political opposition blogs and other news outlets.

Reporters Without Boarders was first to report about the new Internet censorship tools going in to country that are specifically designed to also catch people using the popular Internet proxy anonoymizer tool TOR, the onion router.

According to watchdog group OpenNet Initiative, Ethiopia currently has the second-lowest Internet penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa and just around 700,000 of the country’s 84 million citizens had Internet access in 2010. The average Internet speed in Ethiopia, says Akamai, is currently 622 kbps.

When questioned about the reason for the ban and criminalization of outside VOIP services, particularly Skype, Ethiopian officials reportedly said at first it was for national security. They later let slip about concerns that Skype hurt the state-owned telecommunications company; the legislation also helps to squash independent journalism and bloggers over social media.

A recent ruling political party media workshop titled "Internet Management", supported by China's Communist Party, was held in Ethiopia's capital city of Addis Ababa. The workshop was headed up by Professor Gao Hongeim of the Chinese Leadership Academy. The head topic of the talk was about the experience of China regarding "mass media capacity building", "mass media institution management" and "Internet management".

This was reported by Ethiopia’s own ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. A quick 'sanitized language' to layman translation of the topics basically states China is teaching other countries how to censor and shut down its citizen right to free speech.


Have your say!

The struggle for independence of Oromiya vs. the struggle to maintain the Ethiopian empire: Which side are you on?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | comments

      By Leenjiso Horo

Every Abyssinian emperor or imperial president, or imperial prime minister has flown Abyssinian flag over Oromiya: still flying it. This flag represents a symbol of a national history and pride for Abyssinians.  For Oromo, it is a symbol of colonial occupation; a symbol of injustice and humiliation. Consequently, the Oromo are waging a war of national independence to replace the colonial flag with the flag of independent state of Oromiya - the flag that represents Oromo values, culture, pride, history, aspiration, hope, dream, and unity.

In the past 20 years, Meles Zenawi has increased his violence in Oromiya many folds over.  Today, more Oromo are killed than any time before; more Oromo are arrested than any time in memory.  Under this colonial fascist regime large number of men, women, youths and elders have been kidnapped and disappeared. In political parlance, disappearance is euphemism for politically motivated secrete kidnappings. The arrests, tortures, and killings have been justified in the name of fighting "terrorism."  Indeed, Meles Zenawi's regime has waged a total war on the whole Oromo population.

The reign of fascism of Meles Zenawi's Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has choked the peoples of the empire.  Since it was put in the saddle of power in the empire by foreign powers, this tiny minority has gripped economic, political and military power. Ever since, the TPLF has engaged in the persecution of journalists, artists, academia, students, elders, and members of civil society. As a colonized people, the Oromo have been subjected more than ever before to this regime's strangulation in their own country, in their own backyards. Since it set foot in Oromiya, TPLF has been dangerously undertaking economic persecution and strangulation of the Oromo people in order to destroy their ability to survive as a people, as a nation, as a community, and individuals.  In addition, in Oromiya, it has strangulated freedom of expression, of the press, of belief, of association, of assembly, and of movement. It has restricted and made them illegal. This fascistic action is defended and justified in the name of "state security".  It is time to defend ourselves and our country. This time is gold not to be wasted.

  Since 1991, Oromiya has been robbed by Meles Zenawi and his associates.  They have amassed more wealth, power, and privileges than their predecessors ever had.  They robbed Oromo of their lands and resources.  The robbery, stealing and plundering of Oromiya's wealth have been justified in the name of "democracy".  Furthermore, forcible removal or eviction of civilian population from their lands and destruction of the environment and natural habitats have been justified in the name of “development".  With Meles Zenawi's regime, everything, including democracy, has lost its proper meaning as the right of colonial nations to self-determination has lost its true meaning with some Oromo nationals. 

Jijjjiiramaa re-named itself as "Oromo Dialogue Forum"

In moving forward, the Oromo struggle has challenges: one is the internal and the other is the external.  In any struggle the major obstacle is, and has always been the internal one. It is a major obstacle, because it allies with and supports the external enemy against its own people and their struggle. The support can be direct or indirect, open or secret.  For that reason, it would difficult, if not impossible, to effectively fight the external enemy without overcoming the internal challenge. In the Oromo struggle, the external enemy is the colonizer and it is the primary enemy of the Oromo people and their struggle. The internal challenge to the Oromo struggle has been posed by persons of Oromo soul or of Oromo blood but who carry two flags. In one hand, they carry liberation flag and, in the other, they carry the Ethiopian colonial flag. When they see Oromo, they raise the Oromo liberation flag.   And when they see Abyssinians, they raise Abyssinian colonial flag.

Moreover, when asked about the Oromo struggle for independence of Oromiya, they resort to a vague talk about the right of nation to self-determination and then they go on giving a vague, imprecise, deceptive, false, and misleading meanings and interpretations to the right of nation to self-determination and to the purpose of the Oromo struggle and to its causes, to its nature and to the solution of this struggle.  For quite a while, they have been trying to change the meaning of self-determination, liberation, freedom, and independence.  They say the OLF political program does not call for independence of Oromiya.  They claim it only calls for self-determination. They say self-determination is different from independence. Hence, they say the Oromo nation struggles for self-determination not for independence. But they do not dare say for a colonial question, self-determination and independence have one and the same meaning. According to the OLF political program, the Oromo question is a colonial question and Oromiya a colony. Therefore, the meaning of self-determination is the same with the meaning of independence in the Oromo situation. It is only Oromo Ethiopianists - such as those in "Oromo Dialogue Forum" - who are entertaining the false picture of difference in the meaning between these terms.  These are the Oromo nationals who have been working for a long time to make alliance with Abyssinian political forces either with colonial government or with its opposition forces.

As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, it is important that one has a clear picture as to the meaning of self-determination; that it does not mean autonomy or self-rule, or self-government within the existing colonial empire. It only means total separation of a colonized people from a colonizing state and establishing their own free, independent, and sovereign state. It is with this aim that the OLF Political Program of 1974 and its amended versions of 1976 and of 1998 declared the establishment of  democratic republic of Oromiya as the objective of the Oromo struggle.

Here the irony and tragedy is that there are some of our own fellow nationals who were in the struggle for the liberation of Oromia for a long time and now turned their backs against it.   They have replaced the meanings of the struggle for the liberation of Oromiya and the meaning of independence of Oromiya with "democratization of Ethiopia" and "New Democratic Republic of Ethiopia."  In this way, they confused many Oromo nationals.   Out of this confusion, some have totally abandoned the struggle and joined the enemy.  Some have been and are still trying to revise the meanings of liberation, independence, and freedom.  Others have been trying to uproot or abandon all the meanings, altogether.  And to others, the idea of liberation, freedom, and independence sounds a denunciation of peace and democracy. These are the former cadres of Dergue's party and its Youth League members who joined OPDO (Oromo people's Democratic Organization), upon the demise of Dergue.  Then, they transmigrated from OPDO to OLF in large numbers.  They are the forces that were instrumental in the split of the OLF in 2001. With the split, they joined Shanee in mass, overwhelmed it and finally controlled it.  Then they wrapped themselves around Shanee, suffocated it, and misled it by influencing it to take a wrong political line.  Thereafter, they split from Shanee in 2008 under the name of Jijjjiiramaa.  In 2011, they re-joined Shanee, again.  However, before the ink of their signature of agreement that was put on paper dry they left Shanee, once again.  Having left Shanee, Jijjjiiramaa fractured itself into pieces.  It collapsed on itself; on its own feet and with this its political line.

Prior to its collapse, its political slogans 'democratization of Ethiopia' and new democratic Republic of Ethiopia were overwhelmingly rejected by the Oromo people and their nationalists. Now, following its collapse, Jijjjiiramaa re-appeared wearing a new lipstick and singing new political slogans "democratization of Horn of Africa" and “democratization of Africa" as complementary to the "democratization of Ethiopia" and as an alternative option to independence of Oromiya.  With this, they abandoned the name Jijjjiiramaa, altogether and re-named or re-created themselves as "Oromo Dialogue Forum/Waltajii Marii Oromoo."  This is the new lipstick Jijjjiiramaa is wearing now.  It is under this new name that Jijjjiiramaa is now hoping to fulfill its old mission.  The mission being to turn the clock of Oromo nationalism back and reverse it in order to help  perpetuate Abyssinian colonialism over Oromiya. It is this mission that has motivated and encouraged the group to try everything possible in order to politically and organizationally undermine the OLF.  Hence, the "Oromo Dialogue Forum/Waltajii Marii Oromoo" is a camouflaged Ethiopian colonial agent. Dialogue/Marii is simply a masquerade skin of Jijjjiiramaa.

Moreover, the key leaders of the then Jijjjiiramaa, and the now of the "Oromo Dialogue Forum" are one and the same.  They are the same well known individuals with a clear political position.  The political position is to maintain the territorial integrity of the Ethiopian empire.  For instance, some of its key leaders were members of the OLF who surrendered the Oromo cause to TPLF at London Conference of May, 1991.  It was at that Conference that the now leaders of "Oromo Dialogue Forum", then the leaders of the OLF, handed Oromiya over to TPLF.  That Conference was a victory for Tigrayans and Eritreans but it was a loss for the Oromo. The delegates of EPLF negotiated for independence and delegates of the TPLF negotiated to occupy the rest of the empire-Oromiya included.  The delegates of the OLF negotiated to hand Oromiya over to TPLF. This is a plain fact. The rest of the leaders and members of "Oromo Dialogue Forum" were the members of the former Dergue party and its Youth League who have been socially, ideologically and politically Abyssinianised. These are individuals who joined the OLF after the fall of Dergue regime.   They are Ethiopianist in their political core.
Furthermore, the "Oromo Dialogue Forum" is an embodiment of "Ethiopian democratization" and "New Democratic Republic of Ethiopia" wrapped into a single whole. As its predecessors, its political campaign is also based on lies, deceit, and fraudulent propaganda in order to mislead Oromo nationals to turn away from the Oromo struggle for independence and from national unity.  The slogan “democratization of Horn of Africa" is simply the group's political figment, deceit and delusion.  The political goal of the "Oromo Dialogue Forum/Waltajii Marii Oromoo" is to replace the OLF, to disarm it, and finally to do away with it as a liberation front for independence.  With this, its long aim is to politically disarm and organizationally incapacitate the Oromo national movement and finally to abandon the Oromo struggle for independence.
The recent secrete meetings of the group in Oslo, Norway and Mankato, MN, USA  were for charting of a secret campaign plan against the OLF and the Oromo struggle. According to attendants of the Mankato meeting, the discussion was centered on what to do, how to do, when to do, and where to do to shift the Diaspora based Oromo nationals' support away from the idea of struggle for independence and in favor of the idea of the reform of Ethiopia. The Mankato meeting was setup as a follow up to the Oslo meeting.  Mankato is 85 miles away from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, where the Oromo population is estimated to be 20 to 25 thousand.  This meeting was held in secret.  The names of attendants were held in secret.  The place and time of the meeting were kept in secret. In addition to charting the plan for their campaign, the purpose of secrecy was to avoid exposition of the attendants to the public and to keep new local recruits and local collaborators secretly implanted among the community to foster the liquidation of the Oromo national liberation struggle in the name of "Oromo Dialogue Forum."  It is time for all Oromo liberation organizations and Oromo nationalists across Oromiya and beyond to unite in a joint struggle against Abyssinian colonial occupation and its local collaborators among which the so-called Oromo Dialogue Forum is one.  This is among the internal challenges posed to the Oromo struggle.

The relationship between Oromiya and Ethiopia, between Oromo and Abyssinians, is a colonial one. This relationship was established by a bloody colonial conquest, occupation and colonization. And ever since, this relationship has been maintained on the basis of crude use of force.  That is, the occupation of Oromiya began with violence.  As all its predecessors, Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) also entered Oromiya by violent means and it is administering Oromiya by violence and by shedding the Oromo blood. This colonial regime is not going to leave Oromiya voluntarily.  It has to be forced out.  Thus, the Oromo people can realize their freedom and independence only through a bitter struggle, including political and armed struggle.  And so the armed struggle must continue of necessity. This is a war of independence; it is a war of liberation; and so it is a sacred war. Hence any resistance against TPLF's violence must also be of a violent nature: the armed struggle.  It is only the language of violence that the TPLF can hear, listen, understand, and speak. The TPLF colonial occupation as it came to Oromiya in violence, so it will end in violence.  Whoever thinks to the contrary is certainly a utopian.

Oromiya has the right to be free and independent. This is its inalienable right.  The Oromo people have already decided to be free and independent.  To be free and independent is their natural right; their inalienable right.  That is why they send their sons and daughters to fight the occupying force.  That is why their sons and daughters are fighting the colonial occupation.  That is why the Ethiopian prison cells are filled with Oromo language speakers.  All in all, the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence is the road to peace, to freedom and justice that those nations who are and have been beleaguered by the colonial occupation must take. There is a great centeredness and joy and freedom to be found in doing what is historically necessary, just, and right, in taking up the tasks that history hands us.

Oromo nationalists love their country and people. It is the love felt by these nationalists who sacrificed their precious lives and those who are still willing to risk their lives for freedom that generations, including yet unborn, cherish. It is the love the nationalists feel for all who are resisting colonial tyranny, its injustices, its violence because they know which side they are on that sustains the struggle.  We know that many of nationalists will find each other as they take this struggle to the mountains, plains, and valleys of Oromiya demanding independence. Millions of our people in Oromiya and thousands in the diaspora will continue to fight until the war for independence of Oromiya is won. They are committed to this cause as their predecessors did. They are committed to organize and fight to the end and to dismantle the Abyssinian colonial occupation of Oromiya and with it, its institutions and its violence.  This needs patience and perseverance.  The struggle is to build a society in which each community and individual living in Oromiya lives free and in democracy, liberty and in peace, enjoying happiness and human dignity.  These cannot be achieved without struggle and cannot be realized with only wishes or without being part of the struggle. As Frederick Douglass, an American abolitionist has put it: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet avoid confrontation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain with­out thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its waters.” 

In this struggle, on the one side, the Oromo people are fighting for independence, justice, liberty, peace and democracy. And on the other, there is simply Tigrayan colonial barbarism and its supporters fighting to maintain the colonial empire and its injustices.  For this, it is incumbent upon the Oromo nationals to ring the bell for the independence, write for it, speak for it, fight for it, die for it, and live for it rather than lending ears to the so-called "Oromo Dialogue Forum" -the group that is recently preaching the political insanity of "democratization of Horn of Africa," and "African democratization."  Here the friends and foes of Oromo struggle should understand that the Oromo struggle will continue until colonial occupation ends and its new and old local agents and collaborators bow to the will of the Oromo people and to those heroes and heroines who have sacrificed their lives for the independence of their people.  This note is for everyone who loves Oromiya, for everyone who loves his or her people, for everyone who opposes colonial occupation, and for everyone who opposes Meles Zenawi's regime war on Oromiya, on its people, and their institutions.  This is the time to fight. We have to fight to fulfill the dreams, the hopes, the wishes, and the aspiration of the Oromo people.  For this, we must find our voice, the voice of unity, and the voice of fighting in unity.

In the end, the Oromo struggle is against Abyssinian colonization and occupation of Oromiya. The political goal of the struggle is to restore independence to Oromiya.  The time has come for all us Oromos to get up and be counted; to stand together and fight in unison to defend our country and our people against all enemies: internal and external. In this struggle, as Oromo nationals you have to make a clear and unambiguous choice. The choices are whether you stand on the side of the violent colonialist force and its local collaborators or on the side of the truly Oromo national liberation struggle for the total independence of Oromiya. 

So the question is: Which side are you on?

Oromiya Shall be free!

Have your say!

By Leenjiso Horo

Tribute to a Living Legend - Foday Musa Suso

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | comments

One of Gambia's most famous exports is the internationally acclaimed musician, Foday Musa Suso. In 1977 he moved to Chicago to spread his love of kora music to the United States, forming the Mindingo Grigot Society, which had three other members. Together they fused traditional and jazz sounds to develop a new sound -  known now as 'World Music'.

The Oral Music Tradition

Foday Musa Suso is a Mandingo griot from Gambia. Griots are the traditional keepers of the nation's oral history, wisdom and also their music. Because the music is not written down there are very few scores available to teach others, and the music must be passed from generation to generation of griots. Their music tells stories of ancient battles, tribal conflicts and of empires past. Cultural heroes feature, and stories of family lineages. Every civilisation has its oral conservators, but none quite so developed and complex as that of the West African griots. It is a unique and very special tradition.

Early Life

Foday is the direct descendent of a line of griots who go back centuries, to Jali Madi Wlen Suso, who invented the kora over four centuries ago. The kora is a fascinating instrument, which defies classification. It is neither guitar, lute, nor harp, but somewhere in between the three. Foday was born in Sarre Hamadi Village, Gambia. As a baby, he learned to make sounds on a kora before he was even big enough to hold one. Growing up in a traditional Gambian village in the griot family, he was surrounded by kora music day and night. It is not the custom for the child to be taught the kora by his own father, even one who is a kora master.  Foday learnt under the master kora player Sekou Suso, who lived in the Pasamasi village of the Wuli District. He was taught history and music extremely well, worked and was a very fine scholar.

Moving On

Foday learned his craft so well that he moved on to teach the kora himself, in Ghana, at the Institute of African Studies in the University of Legon. But still with itchy feet and a deep love of the musical tradition he had inherited he took a trip to Chicago in 1977, to try and bring the kora to a wider audience. It must have been a shock to move to a hectic city full of CityLink delivery vans and hamburger joints, but Foday immediately set to work in this bustling creative space, to make a name for himself. He formed the famous Mindigo Griot Society, a band which included Adam Rudolph featured jazz trumpeter Don Cherry as a guest. Pushing the boundaries of the traditional kora sound, these musicians anticipated world-music fusion many years before the rest of the world caught on. Over the years he has performed both as a soloist and with other distinguished musicians throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America.


As one might expect, Foday's primary musical expertise is in playing the Kora, a 21 string musical instrument, with a large calabash - or bottle gourd - forming the resonator. This is hollowed out and a cow skin is then stretched over it, and a long hardwood neck added. The skin is supported by two handles that run under it which support a notched double free-standing bridge. It is a highly complex instrument, with five different tuning methods (Tomraba, Tomaramesengo, Silaba, Haridino and Sautha) which must all be learned before one can be called a Master player. Foday is a skilled player of many other instruments, including the Belengo,  Kalimba, Kutiro, Junkuran, Shekere, Electric Guitar, Harmonica, Balafon, Dundungo, Tamo and Dousongoni. He is particularly admired for his expertise on the West African drums.

Herbie Hancock & Other Friends

Perhaps because of this extraordinary range, Foday came to the attention of bassist, producer and record-label owner Bill Laswell, who introduced him to Herbie Hancock in 1984. Together they worked on a song for the Los Angeles Olympics, 'Junku' ('Let's Do It'), which made the official Olympics album, and Herbie Hancock's 'Sound System' album. Foday then joined  Hancock for a tour of the US and Japan. Their working relationship went from strength to strength. Foday also worked with Bill Laswell and recorded numerous tracks and live performances. 1985 saw him collaborate with the renowned composer Philip Glass on a number of singles, for films and plays, and again for an Olympic themed event – 'Orion', a piece commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad which preceded the Athens Olympic Games. In 1997, Foday and Bill Laswell traveled to Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau to record 'Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa & Beyond'.


There are few musical accolades for this mild-mannered and gentlemanly Gambian to acquire. He's played in the Lincoln Center in New York, Staatsoper Opera House in Vienna, and the Royal Festival Hall in London. In 2008 he was asked by Paul Simon to perform with him in 'American Songs', which was a weeklong musical retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He has never strayed far from his African roots, despite now living permanently in the US. He often visits African countries to perform. A true present day legend, the Mandingo griots will surely sing of his achievements for many years to come.

Gambia Affairs:Will Gambia Government Hijack Media Commission?

Thursday, April 26, 2012 | comments

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia and Press Union President Bai Emil Touray

The democratic engagement unveiled by the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma over the establishment of Gambia Media Commission (GAMEC) is indeed good news as it will open optimistic perspectives for freedom of expression and access to information.

Since the advent of the Second Republic, the country's democratic system has been continually characterized by serious sins committed against the media – intimidation, arson attacks, arbitrary arrests, disappearance, murders, closure of media houses, punctuated with draconian anti-media laws.  

The Gambia government may be among the most repressive in Africa, but it is hoped that the constructive dialogue that Commonwealth has engaged with The Gambia government will open a new era.

Here is a regime intolerant to divergent views and dissenting opinions. It has waged all out war on private media practitioners and outlets for being critical of a regime that ascended to power through military coup in 1994. Many of us believe that the regime will not support the establishment of a Media Commission as previously conceived by the Gambia Press Union in 2004 shortly before the death of Deyda Hydara.

Government's decision to accept the establishment of Commonwealth funded Media Commission is bogus and a decision taken out of desperation amid growing regional and international isolation for reform.

We suggest that the Press Union continue with the entrenchment of its 'own regulatory body'. This is what will strengthen the media and ensure that journalists in both electronic and print media operate freely as professional journalists to play their role in the enhancement of an open society.

We appeal to our colleagues at the Press Union to continue with its plan without delay and in conformity with best practice, to among other things alert practitioners in the electronic media, print media, online newspapers and bloggers in their gate-keeping responsibility.

We cannot be a party to a bogus establishment that will end up being harnessed by the regime. The Gambia Press Union needs to go ahead with its legal framework to regulate media with a view to adhere to stringent regulations in addition to ethics of the Union's code of ethics. And ensure that journalists take their high obligation of social responsibility.

With repressive media laws and unresolved cases of death, disappearance and arson attacks on media persons and outlets create suspicion that there is something under government's sleeve. If established, president Jammeh's government will hijack the Media Commission and subsequently will end up outliving its intended purpose. The

Jammeh administration is unpredictable and unreliable. Should we wait and see what will happen next?

By Saikou Ceesay

Gambia Affairs:Gambia To Set Up Media Commission

| comments

Commonwealth Secretary General  Kamalesh Sharma

The Gambia government has accepted to establish a long yearn media commission and to provide training and advice in order to strengthen the professional capacity and responsibilities of journalists, and to widen the field for private media, Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma has said. Saikou Ceesay reports.

Addressing journalists at the end of his two-day official visit at Kairaba beach hotel, Mr Sharma announced: "We have agreed to help establish a Human Rights Commission. A Commonwealth Secretariat team will be in Banjul next month to take this forward. And will continue to collaborate in the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission."

He said that his visit is part of efforts to follow up on two Commonwealth observer missions, following the crucial Presidential poll in November 2011and the Parliamentary poll in March 2012.Sharma, whose trip is first in eight years by Commonwealth Secretary General, noted that both reports indicated room for improvement, and it has been encouraging to see that progress has been achieved for which The Gambia is to be encouraged.

"We agreed to help further in the judiciary, including the establishment of a Human Rights Division and institutional support for the Judicial Services Commission and the Judicial Education Institute as well as to develop a new program of human rights training for the police."

He emphasized Commonwealth's readiness to assist in implementing recommendations made by their election observers, and welcome the commitment of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to participate actively in the meeting of the Commonwealth Elections Network.

The last Commonwealth Heads of government meeting was held in Australia in October 2011-The Gambia was represented by the Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy. The leaders agreed that 95 recommendations for reform should be advanced.He said half of those recommendations are already on track to being implemented and the other half are to be considered by a special Ministerial Task Force in June before decisions are taken by all member governments in September.

He said: "The essence of these reforms is two-fold: First, to sharpen the impact, strengthen the networks, and raise the profile of the Commonwealth, secondly, to work more positively and intensively with all member governments to achieve greater practical commitment to our shared 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, which builds on the Harare Principles and other earlier Commonwealth declarations."

Sharma said his discussion with Vice President Njie Saidy covered many areas of the Commonwealth as a trusted and collaborative partner and the contribution it can make to both value creation, wealth creation and fundamental issues that are fundamental to Gambia's development and prosperity. This he said included: Commonwealth support for trade, a stronger, better trained, and more effective public service, opportunities for youth enterprise, and, ensuring that women have every possible opportunity to participate as leaders of change, growth and opportunity in society.


He remarked that the reformed and renewed Commonwealth is reflected in the stronger mandate given to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which is the guardian of fundamental political values including democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

"The CMAG is now expected by Heads of government collectively to take a positive interest in democratic constitutional government as well as such matters as the independence of the judiciary, and the ability to the media, all political actors and civil society to express themselves freely and responsibly," Sharma noted.

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