The Gambia’s President has dismissed European Union delegations proposals for dialogue as “insulting, unacceptable and not up for discussion”. In a televised Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8th January 2013, President Jammeh also warned ministers against what he described as “serving foreign interest”. “You either work with me to serve the Gambian people or you leave and go serve them because the Gambia is too small for the two or three of us to fit in,” he told ministers who applauded at the end of his over-one hour introductory statement.
Jammeh read out the sixteen bullet-point proposals one by one with the proposed deadlines, which appeared to have angered the Gambian leader the most when he said: “…nobody gives me deadlines…” He further alleged that the EU is trying to destabilise the Gambia and blackmail him “with chicken change.”
The EU among others proposes that the Gambia government improve on its commitment to a free and vibrant independent media, unblock online media, and revise the media regulation laws such as the licensing and registration processes, freedom of expression laws such as libel, defamation and sedition.
The European Union delegation proposals further note that the Gambia government uphold its pronouncement on the moratorium on the death penalty; that the national assembly review the death penalty; that the government of the Gambia ratify the optional protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the optional protocol on the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and finally establish a human rights commission under the purview of the Commonwealth.
Cabinet ministers commended Jammeh on what they described as his “bold move” and promise to stand in solidarity.
The EU is yet to respond to Jammeh’s allegation but the European Union in 2010 cancelled 22 million Euros in budget support to the Gambia due to concerns over human rights and governance.
The European Union remains the leading aid provider for Gambia, with a total of 65.4 million Euros of grants allocated for the period 2008-2013.
By: Demba KANDEH