An independent mayoral candidate of the Kanifing Municipal Council has thrown a jab at the United Democratic Party (UDP) flag bearer. Mayoral hopeful Bakary Badjie said Talib Bensouda’s campaign is being financed by FAR Limited, an Australian oil company.
“It is UDP candidate who is being financed by FAR Ltd,” Bakary Badjie told reporters in an effort to clear air over reports indicating that some candidates are backed by international corporate entities.
Badjie’s statement comes on the heels of mounting controversy surrounding allegations of interference with Gambian politics by FAR Limited. The Australian oil company that has exploration rights on two Gambian offshore blocks (A2 & A5) is expected to start drilling late this year. Media reports have it that FAR Limited partner with Talib A.Bensouda’s foundation GamSense to donate 100 trash bins to 10 community markets in the Greater Banjul Area. The move is seen by Bensouda’s opponents as a ‘disguised way’ of funding his electoral campaign.
Badjie further stated that it is wrong for international businesses to meddle in domestic politics. “It simply means that we are mortgaging our municipality to people who are only interested in making money, and not necessarily taking care of the people,” he voiced out.
Similarly, Lawyer Assan Martin, one of the independent candidates vying for KMC mayorship, expressed disapproval of FAR Ltd’s alleged interference with Gambian politics.
“We will not allow Gambian democracy to be tainted. We’ll not compromise that an inch,” he added, expressing readiness to expose any institution that is involved in that.
Another KMC mayoral hopeful Bubacarr Senghore also added his voice to the chorus of recriminations saying oil companies have better place to put their money than to involve in domestic politics.
“They should not interfere with Gambians. We need a level playing field,” he pointed out.
UDP candidate thrashed these allegations, stating that a good number of companies have donated to his foundation GamSense.
“GamSense is a one-year old institution, and I have been running it before I entered into politics. So I don’t think there is a conflict there,” he said in an attempt to clear air over a lingering controversy.
Mr. Bensouda said that GamSense projects with Far Limited were going on well before he had won the UDP primaries. “These are mere allegations; they are not facts. The donations were not about my campaign; they were about the Gambian people and the communities.”