Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta was countering complaints of imposing candidates on constituents in parliamentary and local government elections. Mr. Jatta was unlike the Speaker of Parliament Mr. Abdoulie Bojang who took the heat from participants without reacting.
The comments were made at Janjanbureh where a regional outreach forum for Central River Region and Upper River Region took place from May 26 to 29.
Hon. Jatta’s statement was aimed at countering those of the councillor for Sarre Siffie. Councillor Dawda K Ceesay said constituents should be allowed to choose their choice of candidate instead of being handpicked by the party authorities.
Mr. Ceesay’s remarks got support from other participants, including a resident of Niamina Dankunku and the Green Youth leader for Niamina East, who both complained against imposing candidates on electorate. They said such interferences is affecting the function of their grassroots politics.
Journalist Baboucarr Ceesay of Gambia Watch Dog who covered the forum said the political leaders showed their fear for transparency and accountability, especially when participants tried to express their fellings freely. The leaders had earlier assured participants – drawn from various constituencies – to say anything.
However, the leaders deviated from their promise and soon took control of the discussion, countering critical issues being raised instead of correcting them.
“It was unimaginable that a former lady councillor from Jimara district who introduced herself as the daughter of the great marabout of Gambisara village was distracted when she disclosed how she was detained without a just cause when her tractor was seized from her,” Baboucarr Ceesay writes, adding that such a complaint quickly prompted “the Majority Leader to call for a side discussion after the session.” The lady was denied the opportunity to buttress on her point.