In his contribution to the adjournment debate wrapping up the country`s 2017 legislative year, MP for Wuli East in the Upper River Region of the Gambia said he would “find it difficult to enlighten and concentise desperate farmers who are thirsty and hungry.”
Hon. Suwaibou Touray made these remarks in response to a State Minister who asked MPs to ‘calm down, enlighten and tell their constituent members to be patient’ in view of a difficult situation the new government found itself in.
Hon. Touray said he has decided to ‘temper down’ and ‘lowered’ his expectations from the Coalition government. And, added that he has decided to ‘limit himself’ to areas he considered are facing “funding and implementation gaps.”
This suddenly broke a jittery laughter in the chambers.
In addition to Touray`s intervention on State Minister`s absence in crucial adjournment debates, he said under the first PPP administration, ministers were doubling as serving MPs and there was no need to request for their presence. According to him, a disconnect happened when the ruling system changed to ‘presidential’ under the APRC regime.
“There must be continuous dialogue to bridge the disconnect because the two arms of government needs continuous dialogue if they are to register progress.”
On Friday, Gambian law makers have protested in chambers and suspended sittings, demanding for the public broadcaster, Gambia Radio and Television Services presence to cover assembly debates.
Hon. Touray urged the Information Minister to call on the public media to give adequate coverage to national matters of public interest.
He suggested that press releases and important announcements should be repeated several times as to allow the vast majority of the people to access it. He added that during the Budget speech, the media made little coverage on the increment of transport allowances for low income earners, which wasn`t adequately filtered down to the public.
According to him, this was misconstrued by commercial drivers, who took it as an increment of transport fares. He said this made commercial drivers to increase fares under the pretext of wrong information.
He said this triggered confusion and arguments between drivers and commuters. And, added that repeating the information several times would help greatly to filter the right information down to the vast majority of people.
On the issue of a parliamentary question raised by him to clarify a provision in the Public Order Act, Hon. Touray said he is still not satisfied with the Minister’s response.
In response to Touray the Interior Minister said permits issued by the Inspector General of Police are meant for holding meetings.
Hon. Touray argued that permits issued by the police are meant for processions and the use of a public address system (PA) for the amplification of sound, but not for public meetings.
He cited section 25 (4) of the constitution which states that “the freedoms referred to in subsections (1) and (2) shall be exercised subject to the law of the Gambia in so far as that law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the rights and freedoms thereby conferred, which are necessary in a democratic society and are required in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of the Gambia, national security, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to comtempt of court.”
Hon. Touray expressed the view that if the Attorney General is right that the permit issued to people by the police is also meant for holding meetings, then he is suggesting for a review of that provision of the public order Act because according to him, it is practically impossible to implement that provision.
”The Gambian people are holding meetings every day and every second across the country and to ask them to seek for permission to hold such meetings from the police is not reasonable restriction and not compliance with section 25 (4) of the constitution,” Hon. Touray argued.
He finally called on the minister to look into that as well