Halifa Sallah Coalition Spokesman
Halifa Sallah, the Spokesperson for Gambia`s newly elected opposition Coalition in the 1st December presidential election said part of the incoming Coalition government programmes is to transform the country`s security apparatus that will be committed to democracy, good governance and respect fundamental rights.
According to Sallah the Coalition will also help retired security officers to be easily re-integrated back to ‘civil community`s’ ‘where they can get civil jobs’. This will be done through the provision of skills and professional trainings. In an interview with this reporter on Wednesday 28th December at the Coalition`s temporal offices in Kairaba Beach Hotel, Sallah spoke on wide range of issues including institutional transformation for a democratic country.
he said: “when you look at the manifesto, it is very clear we want to build a country where there would be separation of powers, so that the executive, the judiciary and the legislative can be allowed to perform their duties.
The president-elect will become the commander-in-chief and when you take up a government constitutionally, the institutions remain and all you need to do is to reform those institutions.”
In terms of the country`s security apparatus, he said they have a government that is committed to the rule of law, good governance, democracy and will respect the people’s fundamental rights. He added they “have to give security personnel proper orientation” for them to so know “it is a new dispensation”.
He said: “A government that comes through democracy will earn the respect of governments all over the world.
“It means the Arm Forces that we have, will have to go through trainings, as we have training opportunities to develop their capacities and they will also go for further training for peacekeeping missions, which means an army of that nature will be attracted to the international community for peacekeeping.
We will train the police, the army and the rest of the security apparatus, so that many of them can get outside trainings to earn better income and live a prosperous life so that they become loyal to the civil authority.”
Just like the armies of many countries around the world, The Gambia is not an exception of recruiting unskilled young men and women into the country`s defence force mainly as infantry soldiers, most of whom are high school leavers and struggles to leave the force for fear of being jobless.
Halifa said: “So fundamentally, you must give incentives to increase income and diversify what military personnel should do, because some of them may stay in the army for a long time but others it is 5 and 10 years durations, so you must train them so that they can reintegrate into civil life.”
The former Serrekunda Central MP said some of them would go into the provision of health care, which he described as “ways and means of integrating the army and other security forces into the community.” He said medical doctors will be among them and while others “will be medics”. “So in short we are thinking of a new republican army and other security apparatus which will respect and protect the population” said Halifa.
, he said: “The Commander in Chief in place (Yahya Jammeh, the outgoing president) is running his government the way he wants it.
“And the president-elect (Adama Barrow, the incoming president) will also run the way he wants it, when he assumes office.
“What I must assure you is that all the institutions will adopt new dispensation that has respect for the fundamental rights and freedom, rule of law, democracy and good governance.”
, he said: “The coalition for now can only talk about general policies among which there is a need to stabilize the economy.
He added: “If you look at the budget, you can see the deficit and the budget depends entirely on loans, to be able to at least meet what is called recurrent budget.
So it is necessary to enhance or increase revenue to increase salaries and other things and we must also get rid of wasteful budgetary items, and consider investing on the general welfare of people.”
He said in doing that the Gambia must be opened up for investment so that the country can attract many investors. Which he added will “increase the earning capacity of the government to be able to provide more services.”
“You can also build up the productive base such as making best use of mining and making public cooperation to be more efficient and pay dividend to the government. There will be different types of administration that will yield up different economic benefits to the population” said Sallah.
Gambia has bad records of human rights violations and suppression of press freedom in the past. The Coalition Spokesman assured that the protection of fundamental human rights would be ensured.
“Fundamentally, also is to ensure that there will be no detention without trial disappearances without trace.
It means the protection of the rights of the people, the opening of the media will be guaranteed, which will create an open society and generates more income and opens up the Gambia to more friends and donors,” said Sallah.
He added: “So in short Ministers will prepare the policies to be implemented by the government and they will become spokesperson`s of the cabinet.
Henceforth, journalists can confront those Ministers and hold them to account, when I will no longer be the Spokesperson.”
On the 2017 budgetary allocation by the National Assembly, Sallah said it is a constitutional requirement for the sitting government to submit the national budget to the National Assembly for approval. He added: “The 2017 budget that was recently approved is constitutional, but the incoming government can also submit a supplementary budget to the parliament if it is necessary.”