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OJ ‘shocked’ by Gov’t statement on Senegal

Dec 24, 2010, 1:48 PM | Article By: Sanna Camara

Omar Jallow alias OJ, leader of the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), is the latest among the opposition camp to comment on relations between Senegal and the Gambia, expressing what, he said, was his shock over the statement issued by the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service on government’s position on Senegal.

His comments, during an interview with this reporter on Tuesday, followed a statement from the opposition Peoples Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) issued by its Secretary General, Halifa Sallah.

According to the PPP leader, it was shocking for him to hear the statement made by the Secretary General on national television regarding Gambia government’s relations with Senegal. In his view, it would have been more diplomatic if the grievances of the Gambia government were channeled through existing diplomatic institutions, established by the two countries; or through their respective embassies and commissions established to look into issues of contention.

Gambia and Senegal are condemned by God and geography to live together as  one people – we share the same traditions, cultures, tribes, religions, among other things. It is incumbent upon government on both sides to be very prudent in the way they relate to each other,” he said, while calling on both governments to refrain from making such statements which would have been better handled through quiet diplomacy.

OJ further called on them to exercise restraint and responsibility in order not to put the two populations in unnecessary stress or jeopardy. He said the two countries are one people in two states.

The PPP strongman also expressed dissatisfaction over the investigation into the murder of veteran journalist, Deyda Hydara, after six years since the incident.

“We are very much dissatisfied and disappointed with the pace of investigations of the heinous crime that brought to an end the life of one of the best citizens of this country in the person of Deyda Hydara,” said OJ, who also attended the commemoration lecture marking the 6th anniversary of the passing away of Deyda Hydara held recently.

OJ said he was equally disappointed with the solidarity displayed by members of civil society and professional organizations in the journalists’ effort to seek justice to this crime of injustice. He said the solidarity should have been across the board, comprising politicians, lawyers, doctors, religious leaders, civil society, community-based and non-governmental organizations in the country.

“All should lend their support to the pursuit of The Gambia having a free and independent press that is not subject to suppression or intimidating pressure,” he said, adding that he was more disappointed that most people do not appreciate the importance of not only press freedom, but the important contribution the press has on the socio-economic, cultural and scientific development of the country.

“We should have all come out and attended the forum that has been organized to demonstrate solidarity with the independent press; and, at the same time, send a strong message to the powers that be in the Gambia, that we are very much dissatisfied and disappointed with the investigations into Deyda’s murder,” OJ said.