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Friday, January 27, 2017

Gambia: Barrow Spokesman Disowns Joint Declaration


Understandably overwhelming number of our citizens are very angry for three reasons: (1) allowing Jammeh to "escape" (2) allowing Jammeh to export his "loot" (3) "signing" an impunity deal with Jammeh. For many Jammeh is the winner and we let him get away with everything after taking the country hostage and driving us to the wire. The amount of "frustration" out there is too much. This is also understandable. I can only state that the previous information placed out there on the matter by me is nothing but the truth. We did not participate at any forum where the "Joint Declaration..." was discussed. We only knew of its existence when it was made available to us yesterday afternoon by the Senegalese side. The President rejected it outright and communicated the same with President Sall of Senegal and Marcel Dasouza, ECOWAS Commission President who met him. We were informed that it was a "draft" for our input and our position was that it was a non-starter. We shared the same position with the Qatari Envoy sent by the Emir of Qatar to the President apparently to pave way for Jammeh to go to Qatar. I was very shocked to learn from Facebook that the document we had rejected was already posted at the websites of both ECOWAS and the AU. There is no reason on earth to embellish the facts. We will seek formal clarification from ECOWAS on why this was so, without our approval or knowledge, and we will share their explanations publicly with our citizens. What matters here is that President Barrow rejected it when it was presented to him, and for us The Gambia will neither respect nor honour what was contained in that joint Declaration. We don't consider it legally binding on us. 

On the so-called export of Jammeh's loot, we were not aware of the presence of an aircraft to ship things out. Again, I learnt it from Facebook, with shock like most of you. We assumed the airspace was closed afar Jammeh's departure as ordered. We were told that the aircraft had already landed before the order of closure. It must be understood that like many, we sacrificed and risked our lives in the country for twenty two years to rid our nation of dictatorship. We parted with most of our personal fortune for this, deprived families of life of comfort to invest in the liberation out of love of country. We won together as a people. Let us govern together. We have serious business at hand: to reconstruct a nation totally destroyed. Let us focus our energies on that. There will be some mistakes. We will not get everything right at the start, but we will not shy away from taking responsibility if we go wrong. That is not to say that we will give in to pressure if it is not right to do so. We can take the heat. The facts are as I had provided them are accurate. Some will believe, others won't.  Those who  will believe and understand will do so. There will be those who will not. Its just a reality I will have to live with as a public figure, but will not sway us from forging ahead. The conversation must continue with our citizens, and expressions of bitterness and frustrations have lessons we could learn from. We are now moving on beyond this. Those who wish to pursue further have the right to do so. Welcome to the New Gambia. Long live the New Gambia.
Mai Ahmad Fatty

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