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Gambia Information Minister Reacts to Dakar, Bissau newspapers

Oct 8, 2015, 10:36 AM

The Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure of The Gambia has reacted to an article in the Senegalese daily L’Observateur (Issue No 3593 of 14th September 2015) which was culled and republished in the Ultima Hora newspaper of Guinea Bissau on 17th September.

In a statement issued to the press Tuesday evening, Information Minister Sheriff Bojang derided the Senegalese paper for “characteristically twisting the facts and trying to portray a negative picture of the widely hailed efforts” by His Excellency, the President, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, in finding a peaceful and workable solution to the political impasse currently gripping the sister republic of Guinea Bissau.

Minister Bojang stated: “The newspaper, owned by a former minister in the Senegalese government, claimed that President Jose Mario Vaz of Bissau rejected the counsel of Presidents Sall and Conde of Senegal and Guinea and instead followed the advice of President Jammeh.The paper accused the president of playing ‘an explosive game’ in Bissau, of ‘sparing no financial effort to tempt’ the opposition Partido para a Renovacao Social (PRS) parliamentarians to support President Vaz and take part in the government proposed by the then appointed prime minister Baciro Dja.

“The paper claimed that ‘the bold move’ by President Jammeh was a calculated attempt to have in Guinea Bissau ‘a strategic ally that will allow him to deal with the powerful Senegalese neighbour’.This is jaundiced and muckraking journalism far-moved from the truth and from reality. In journalism, while opinion is considered free; facts are held as sacred. In journalism, it is not just what you say, but what you highlight. Journalists should write the truth and avoid pandering to vested interests.

Unfortunately, we have noticed a developing trend in the Senegalese press, notably in this particular paper with regard to their reportage on The Gambia. Only last month, the paper ran a headline article claiming that President Jammeh had filled two buses with foreign prostitutes working in The Gambia and “dumped” them in Ziguinchor. These are totally false and incontinent statements designed to paint a negative picture of The Gambia.”

The information minister himself a journalist of 20 years added: “Since he became head of state 21 years ago, His Excellency, the President has, more than any leader in Africa or elsewhere, worked towards finding a definitive solution to the myriad intractable problems – political, social, economic – that have beset Guinea Bissau since independence. He has championed the cause of Guinea Bissau at regional and global levels and led efforts to marshal vital resources for the country.

“President Jammeh has, indeed spared no efforts or left no stone unturned in his untiring quest to see that the sovereignty and the dignity of Guinea Bissau is defended and maintained and its people rise above their travails and use their Allah-endowed resources to develop their country which neo-colonial forces have targeted to reduce to a failed state.”

Information Minister Bojang underscored: “His Excellency, the President cares deeply about Guinea Bissau given the historical, socio-cultural and political ties between the people predating the centuries of colonialism. He believes that a stable, strong, prosperous and independent Guinea Bissau is a sine qua non for wider stability and development in the whole sub-region and he will not shirk in his responsibilities to work towards that goal. He has expended huge resources and time in this effort.

“It was reported that President Jammeh hosted members of the PRS at his home in Kanilai towards the end of August 2015.In fact, a general invitation was sent to all the stakeholders in the leadership tussle and while others decided to go to other capitals, the PRS members accepted to come to Banjul. During the meeting, His Excellency discussed with them at great length about the genesis and timeline of events leading to the current impasse and exhorted them to work with all sincere and honest persons and institutions and find answers for a definitive resolution of Bissau’s governance structures. The President takes a half-full glass view of Guinea Bissau situation. He believes in the country’s future and its potential.

Contrary to the portrayal in the L’Observateur article, President Jammeh’s role as an indispensable honest broker was acknowledged in a resolution at the Ecowas Extraordinary Summit attended by eight heads of state and representatives of the UN secretary general and AU chairwoman in Dakar mid-September.