Sunday, 19 August 2012 22:44(Column) – Barely a few weeks after it was reported that the European Union has cancelled 22 million Euros ($26 million) initially allocated to the Gambia for general budget support due to concerns over human rights and governance, President Yahya Jammeh is at it again.
In the early hours of last Tuesday, officers of the much feared Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA) stormed a private community radio station, Teranga FM, seized its operational licence and took the radio off air without any legal reasons.
The officers, who claimed to be acting on orders from above, also collected contact numbers of the radio’s board of directors. And I believe that the board of directors would be asked to cut ties with the radio station or face severe consequences.
The closure of the radio station can only be described as an act of cowardice by the government of Yahya Jammeh.
I am not surprised at the closure of the radio station, which has since its establishment in 1999 provided a platform for the expression of divergent views in the country.
Like Babucarr Gaye’s Citizen FM, the station has been shamefully taken off air by the regime of Yahya Jammeh as part of his continuous desire to keep the Gambian people in a perpetual state of darkness and passive subjugation.
Since coming to power in July 1994, Mr Jammeh out of fear of the truth, fear of public enlightenment and fear of the people’s power that could grow out of being politically informed has employed all sorts of persecutions against journalists in the country including arbitrary arrests and detention, kidnapping, torture, arson attacks and murder.
And although Section 25 (a) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia states that: Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include the freedom of the press and other media, Mr Jammeh and his regime are doing everything they could to kill the private media industry.
In total disregard to the constitution, Jammeh is yet to repeal some of the military degrees he enacted prior to the return of the country to 'civilian rule'. Among them is Decree No. 70 and 71, which increased the bond to be executed by a newspaper before it commences operation.
He is also yet to repeal Decree No. 45, which abrogates constitutional safeguards against arbitrary search and permits search and seizure of property without due process. The NIA is using this law to arrest and detain people arbitrarily as well as tap phone lines of opponents and critics of the regime without warrant.
Parading himself as the only guarantor of peace and development in the Gambia, Jammeh is using national security as an excuse to silence anyone who dares to speak out against the way and manner he is governing the country.
In an attempt to divert public attention from the abysmal failure of his government, Mr Jammeh accuses the media and his critics of trying to create political instability in the country, forgetting that his lack of respect to the democratic values, his despotism, irresponsible governance, violations of people’s rights and freedoms, lack of respect for the rule of law among others is what is pushing the country closer and closer to a melting point.
Jammeh has run out of ideas and has lost the moral authority to remain president of the Gambia. He has created far enough problems for the country and does not have any answers or solutions to the very problems he has created. And if he really loves the Gambia they way he wants us to believe, then I think he should gracefully step down and safe our country from total collapse.
Wishing you all a happy and blessed Eid.
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