Kartong Crisis: Halifa Advises Jammeh


Halifa Sallah tells President Jammeh to employ preventive

measures to the Kartong situation before it reaches a boiling point

By Sulayman Bah

The leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, Halifa Sallah has written to President Jammeh on the Kartong crisis and advised him to employ preventive mechanisms to address the grievances of the residents before it reaches a boiling point.

According to Mr. Sallah, a state administration should depend on principles and strategic objectives and not on individual whims and caprices, which is caused by failure to employ a community policing strategy in Kartong.

Halifa Sallah said: “The development in Kartong does not appear to be a by-product of any political or criminal conspiracy. One doubts whether any had the premeditation to commit crime.”

A tense confrontational situation was reported between the Police Intervention Unit and the village youths on Sunday 22nd November, which was subsequently followed by a mass arrest.

Mr. Sallah stated that, the conflagration in Kartong emanated from the lack of employment of community policing principles and strategies and further show how differences in principles and strategic objectives could give rise to diametrically opposed results.

He said: “Those of us who know what happened in Kartong before and after the clampdown would confirm that the security forces did not go to Kartong to provide security for the sand mining area but were called to protect a village leader who felt under threat. At no time during the clampdown was the mining area protected by armed security personnel.”

Prior to the Kartong incident, there were reports of the village`s residents expressing their dissatisfaction against environmental degradation caused by mining. And, different approaches were undertaken by the village residents for a solution but to no avail.

PDOIS` Secretary General further stated that: “Any government which is sensitive to public concerns would have read the writings in the Press and employ preventive mechanisms to address the grievances rather than allow them to reach boiling point. Government-in-action is also a factor in diagnosing the cause of the crisis.”

“Community policing principles requires the security forces to put the community first. Hence, whenever there is to be deployment within a community where there is a standoff  free from any violent confrontation  the most senior commander should have the role to get down first before any deployment to visit the head of a community and invite the community for a discussion. We are convinced that if this was done we would not have the situation we have today.”

Young and youthful Gambians are leaving in their thousands through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, which is mainly caused by unemployment in their home country. Mining of natural mineral resources such as Sand, ilmenites, zircon and others has been taken place in the coastal village of Kartong without any benefit been given back to the community.

Sallah added that: “In our view, your government has a special responsibility in handling issues affecting young people. Many have left the country and your position is that they have no cause to leave. Would you be able to say the same if the Kartong youth are incarcerated for no other reason than having concern for their environment and being at the wrong place at the wrong time when tension was building up without anybody using appropriate measures to defuse it?.”

“What justice and common sense demand is for the Attorney General to file nolleprosequi discharge and release those arrested and hold meetings with the villagers to address their concern.”

On Saturday over 200 trucks were moving to and from Kartong to load sand. The villagers have real concerns of not getting benefits from the exercise.

According to PDOIS` agenda 2016 if the party is voted into office, “A National Environment Commission will be established and given an unhindered mandate to ensure that environmental impact assessment is conducted and given consideration before any project is implemented.”

“Integrate environmental impact assessment before any action is taken that could affect the environment at village, district, regional and national level.”

The policy document further stated that: “The Public Sector will mobilise Sovereign National Wealth from mining and other extracting industries; dividends from public enterprises and other public investments. Heavy minerals such as Illmenite, Rutile and Zircon have been found in the coastal strip of BatoKunku, Sanyang and Kartong by Carnegie minerals before it ended its operations in The Gambia. There are also prospects for oil production and other minerals.”



  1. In as much as we appreciate PDOIS addressing a letter to the president to exercise restrain and employ dialogue in solving the problem, we the people of the Gambia who owns ALL natural resources in the country would like to know from president Jammeh and his government the following questions.
    1- We know Carnegie Minerals took government to an International Arbitration Court and won the case. How much judgment sum did government pay to Carnegie?
    2- Since Carnargy left the Gambia who took over their business?
    3- What is the revenue structure and who has what in these mining activities?
    As a sovereign people in a sovereign nation we also want PDOIS to ask these questions to president Jammeh.

  2. Talk softly and carry a big stick that is what a bully and strong headed individual knows . If you talk too much , he never listen to you . Such individuals never listen to any advice. For 21 years you have been advising the same idiot and he never listen to you , why can’t you carry a big stick and see if he will listen . Change strategy, the letter writing business is not working for us .

  3. halifa again.
    At state house, whenever Halifa’s long open letters arrive, the clerks joke about it. ‘Mr Book’ they will say is wasting his time. Jammeh doesn’t give a monkeys what letter anybody writes. At best what Halifa Sallah should spend his time on is telling Kartong youths how to successfully defend their rights and how the environment must be protected at all cost. Jammeh does not before and will not now listen to Halifa Sallah or any other opposition politician for that matter. It could be that Halifa is wanting to be seen as advising Jammeh, but in reality, Jammeh care less.. He owns the fleet of trucks mining sand, he pockets the revnues and he does as he pleases. Mass solidarity action is what we need.

  4. Continue writing Mr Sallah. Just as the April 10/11 had vindicated you and even went to the point of reproducing your letters as material evidence during its inquiry, these will as well serve as evidence against him when the time comes. Your letters were incorporated into the final commission report which was documented.

    Those who feel you are not doing enough, may as well consider doing the rest hence it is a collective national responsibility.

    Like I said in this forum, the Gambian community must learn to be their brother’s keepers and feel the pains of the community together.

    Until we learn to do this, d dictator will always divide and use whims and caprices against the few while the majority looks on indifferently.

  5. Where is your “big stick” Max..? Please show us or tell us who is carrying “your big stick…”

    Alright, assuming that you are right and that PDOIS has been doing the “wrong” thing for 21 years, can you tell us, in.your view, who has been doing the “right” thing for the same period..?

    Halifa’s advice to Gambian Youths, since emerging on the political scene nearly three decades ago, should suffice for Kartong Youths too…

    Honest people can attest to this fact and appreciate the man’s tireless efforts to offer an alternative to what transpires now and before…through PDOIS..

  6. Halipha should know better by now that our homegrown dictator never takes advise from anybody. My advice to Halipha is to tame his ego and work with other opposition parties to end dictatorship in the country. There has been lots of evidences or documents collected against his misrule but we all have to work together to chase the baldhead out of power and bring him to book to face justice. Therefore unity is the key not writing lengthy essays to a knucklehead dictator.

  7. Open letters are welcome as they make a party’s views on events public. However, open letters are not appropriate for all situations. This particular crisis, requires the physical presence of the opposition leaders in Kartong. Among other things, to show a symbolic gesture of standing up for the youth. One has to earn the trust of the people first, before acquiring the mandate to administer them. So off to Kartong!

  8. It is funny that the only time objections seem to be raised about statements put in the public domain, is when they come from PDOIS or Hon. Halifa Sallah…

    We do not see such level of objection when other individuals or organisations (be they parties or civil society groups) put statements in the public domain…

    This selectivity and partiality, not only demonstrates hypocrisy and double standards, but also exposes an embarrassing level of ignorance amongst, supposedly, very highly educated people..

    Indeed PDOIS, through its Secretary General (Hon. Sallah), has never shied away from issuing statements or addressing letters to the authorities, especially the president, but these letters, being “open” in nature, are as much for the recipient, as they are for the public..

    “Open letters”, in case people don’t know, are an effective way of focusing public attention on the recipient, as well as, asking the public to judge the conduct or performance of the individual or organisation, as the case may be, on any given matter before the public..

    They are also an effective way of stating the author’s position on a particular issue, and as an official political party, PDOIS has again used this ocassion to state their party’s policy outline on national (mineral) resources..

    We need to ask the rest to state their party policy outlines on how they wish to exploit and manage our natural resources, rather than being content with noises to win public sympathy by exploiting genuine grievances…

    If anybody thinks that Hon. Halifa Sallah, who has had more fracas with the regime since 1994 to date than any opposition leader, is writing open letters in the belief that Jammeh will “listen” to him, then such a person needs to re-examine themselves again…

  9. You can bet your dollar Kinteh, that PDOIS will be on the ground in Kartong but this information may not be published for obvious reasons…

    Infact, it seems that they have been.on.the ground well before the grievances escalated to this level…

    Quote from letter… “He said: “Those of us who know what happened in Kartong before and after the clampdown would confirm that the security forces did not go to Kartong to provide security for the sand mining area but were called to protect a village leader who felt under threat. At no time during the clampdown was the mining area protected by armed security personnel.”

    This is an indication that PDOIS was on the ground well before the escalation…

  10. Bax If PDois believe that jammeh is not going to listen then why they are still writing these letters ? I think the purpose of these letters is for jammeh to listen and address the concerns expressed in those letters . Do you see your contradiction when you stated that those who believe that writing open letters to jammeh will make him listen then they needs to re-examine themselves?
    Not carrying a big stick is apply to all opposition leaders including udp lawyer Darboe . Darboe recently changed strategy and I think PDois needs to do the same and they come together to fight .
    Bax , if you claimed that these letters are for evidencial purposes only , I can tell you we have too much evidences against the tyrant. Every geniune citizens knows that the letter writing business is not working . When Halifa and Seedia took action to defend foroyaa continued publication when the junta wanted to ban it , they succeeded to prevent that . Actions against the tyrant succeed more than mere letter writing . These actions include protest , demonstrations, civil disobedience etc . Halifa is a patriot but as a leader he needs to change strategy . Jammeh will never listen to those letters .

  11. Why is the diaspora making Halifa relevant. Jawara told us that these people are communists. You will not go to any big village BANTABA and hear people talking about how capable these communists people are to lead the Gambia.

    Anytime you hear their names, know that it is a controversy. Just like this one.

    If Jammeh is doing that bad and you opposition people knew that, why can’t you form a coalition to meet us at the ballot box next year. There we can settle the dust, and peacefully. People definitely know that none of the opposition parties can win the presidency. Because they are not capable.

    They are good at attacking Jammeh, but when it comes to issues nobody knows where they stand on that.

    We all know what the opposition needs to do to win. It is rather unfortunate that we are completely off track. 2016 will come to pass while the mouths are wide open.

  12. Please Bax give us a break. The truth have to be told whether you like it or not. Bax everybody is not crazy. What most of us are saying is that after 21 years trying the same thing and no solution to the problem then we need to change tactics or listen to others. We all cannot be wrong. Halifa needs to stop being in denial and know that majority of Gambians are seeing the light through the end of the tunnel. Enough of lengthy essays we now want solution to our national problem which is the removal of the dictator from lives.

  13. Max…..Open letters may be addressed to the president (Jammeh) but they are not for him…They are for the general public..If Halifa wants to write to Jammeh, he will do so in private, without publishing the contents of the letter in a public forum…

    I hear a lot about “change of strategy” by the UDP but I have not seen the changes…Can you educate me on some of these changes.?

  14. Janjangbureh….No one is against “telling the truth” but the “truth” must be told as it is, not twisted to suit your narrative…

    The truth is that whether you like it or not, PDOIS is a political party that has its set goals and how to achieve them…One of their ways of getting their message across is through statements and open letters..

    And I cannot see how this is stopping you from removing Jammeh from our lives…I would have thought that a sincere opponent of Jammeh would appreciate every single letter or statement because it exposes the administration and thus helps you…

  15. Malang….Jawara also told you that Yaya Jammeh is a thief…He said that he and his council received funds from Taiwan and shared it amongst them….At least, Capt. Ebou Jallow has corroborated part of that story…

    So if you believe what Jawara said about PDOIS, you should also believe what he said about Jammeh, unless……

  16. Lafia Touray la Manju

    The police brutality in this case is unacceptable and needs to be investigated and prosecution brought against the rogues.


  17. Bax, the letter is written to dictator Jammeh not to anybody else. The dictator stated before that he is not interested in taking advice from anybody else but Halifa continue to write open letters as if he is chief presidential adviser. Throughout history, dictators never accept advices from their subjects because it makes them feel weak. PDIOS needs to listen to majority opinion which is start working with other opposition parties in removing Yaya Jammeh from power. What dictators are afraid of is unity from the suffering masses.

  18. Putting your head in the sand doesn’t make you a patriot but simply qualifies you as an enabler. PDIOS needs to act as a government in waiting not a party in waiting. By that I meant that just because you are the oldest party in town does not earn you automatic support. You have to win their hearts and act as a good compromiser. We need positive change now.

  19. Bax , I don’t think the purpose of open letters is for public use . Those letters are written for jammeh to change his ways but he will never listen to them. Public already is aware of crimes committed by jammeh and his regime. If the open letters are for the public why didn’t Halifa address the letters to public or simply address those issues in their meetings as udp is doing rather than write to the Dictator . Those letters are passive way of expressing his concerns. Jammeh is an evil dictator. He dictate whatever he want to the country. He has no respect for the laws and constitution.
    Change of strategy is to be confrontational and stand your ground as evidenced by udp stand off with the police , their recent efforts to go to every part of the country without restrictions, recent press release which highlighted jammeh’s rudeness, ignorance, stupidity, indecency, uncivilized, unschooled, undiplomatic, lack of respect, bizarre behavior, idiotic and any bad words you think of to describe his behavior toward any decent human beings. Jammeh is not representing the interests of Gambian people.

  20. I cannot understand how the very same ple who applauded the UDP letter and press release on Jammeh’s insult to Senegalese presidents are condemning Halifa’s letters.

    I am always dumbfounded by the insincerity of some Gambians.

    If you believe Halifa is the problem, leave him alone and go ahead and remove Jammeh. He has only 1 vote like everyone.

    U go ahead with your coalitions and remove him without Halifa.

    Leave the man alone. It is our collective duty, he is doing his part the way he sees it fit best, you do yours pls.

  21. His vice president answered a question relating to the Kartong coastal mining……., isn’t it? That the coastal mining activities are private……., Oh la la! this is the Gambia and the profoundity of its vice president. Can any mentally sane vice president talk like this? She was asked, if I can remember well, ‘who benefits from the coastal minings’. And she answered,….’ the minings are PRIVATE??………….Damn this is the kind of Gambianism we must do away with. Is this woman not ignorantly insulting the whole country’s pride and intelligence of it ordinary people??
    Is the vice president really educated at all not to mention her boss who is a shameless barbarian in our public space, believing that his criminality and ruthlessness will be perceived by poor Gambians as patriotism.

  22. Gambia , we are simply asking Halifa to change strategy , the letter writing business has no use because jammeh never listen to those letters . Halifa is Public figure and a leader therefore he should be criticized and suggestion should be made to him . Your suggestion that we should “leave him alone “is not the best strategy in a civilized and democratic society . Mr sallah involvement in Gambian politics is voluntary and therefore any suggestion that we should leave him alone is indication of intolerance of criticism and your desire to consider him as dictator . For far too long we always hear some Gambians say that people shouldn’t criticize our leaders ,we have to get rid of that mindset and understand that these leaders are human beings who made mistakes in as much as they love the work they voluntarily do . No body is questioning the patriotism of mr sallah , we are simply asking him to think of another strategy apart from writing letters . There are evidences in place in which he was successful to achieve his goals when he stood his grounds . These evidences include his stand against the ban of foroyaa and witch hunting exercise . These two instances proved that stand your ground is the best course of action when dealing with tyrant . Recently kartong youths were also released and charges dropped because jammeh understand that the community is ready for confrontation and the entire country support them . The reason Jammeh is able to stay too long in power is because of intimidation , fear and lack of unity to fight him . He is the biggest coward and greatest liar ever to live in The Gambia

  23. Maxs, you have cited the instances where Halifa and PDOIS stand their ground and win support. So it is clear that standing your ground is not new to PDOIS or Halifa. So it is not a new idea at all. The PDOIS should not serve as a union to protest for people’s economic grievances. It is the affected interest groups who should do that and if the state refused to heed to them then they should consider their support for the party in office and support the party that best articulates their aspirations. So PDOIS is here to remind all that it has the answer to the problems affecting all sectors of society and therefore the society should in turn understand that only they could use their vote to change their manner of government and entrust power to another. So that is the politics at play. Your comment for the UDP statement was not for them to be writing but you would rather if PDOIS stops writing. What is wrong with writing to expose the party in office? Has Jammeh not change course regarding Kartong? How do you know which actions influence him to do so? Tell the people what your problem is but it certainly is not the PDOIS.
    As far as I am concerned, UDP, PDOIS, NRP, PPP GPDP and so on should continue to propagate their ideas through any means at their disposal. The government of Jammeh has refused the opposition the National media, so the opposition should use all other avenues open to them to reach the people. How are you to tell other players what strategies to adopt when you have your own strategies? This pettiness of a pretentious open minded guy will not in any way divert the PDOIS from their tactics or strategy. The bigger tactic or strategy of the PDOIS is to mobilise the vast majority to reject Jammeh in the polls which you should support or reject but you have no evidence to support your claim that only one type of method will yield dividend.