Mar 6, 2012, 12:22 PM
Describes It as "Unjustified and Ill-considered"
Following widespread media reports of the suspension of Hon Babanding K.K. Daffeh, National Assembly Member for Kiang Central, by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has expressed its views on the matter, describing it as unjustified and ill considered.
Below we reproduce the full text of the statement of the UDP party on the suspension of Hon. Babanding Daffeh:
"The National Assembly is the forum in which the elected representatives of the people debate and discuss issues they consider to be of national interest. Such debates and discussions should only be influenced by the dictates of a member's conscience. If in the discharge of a member's responsibility views are expressed which reveal the excesses and/or failures of the Executive that should not be a reason to prevent a member from expressing those views.
It is even more unacceptable for a non elected member clothed with the title of "Speaker" to suspend an elected member from any sitting of the National Assembly because of that member's criticism of the conduct of a public officer and/or Government's decision on any matter that the Member believes affects the nation in one way or the other.
"The country is fast sliding into a situation where those who expose excesses and/or failures of the Executive (this include civil servants, security personnel and other public officers) are demonized by sycophants of the regime in power as un-patriotic.
The view maintained by these sycophants are that the President, the presidency and other members of the executive are above blame and as such should not be criticized, condemned or chastised. This trend has undermined our efforts in building strong and viable democratic institutions and has certainly tampered with the efficiency of the National Assembly.
"The National Assembly is one of the over-sight institutions established by the constitution to serve as a check on the executive. The Speaker who heads this very important institution is expected to serve as an unbiased umpire and referee and should be seen to listen to all views and should insist only on the substantiation of statements by concrete facts and not speculations. The Honourable Speaker, when in the chair, should disrobe himself/herself of her party political coloration. The reactions of the Honourable Speaker to views expressed by the Honourable Member for Kiang Central and the subsequent suspension of that Member speak volume of the Honourable Speaker's lack of understanding of the Standing Orders (which she invokes to justify the suspension) and her role as speaker.
"If the Honourable Speaker is au fait with and understands the simple language of the Standing Orders, she would have followed the correct and proper procedure before reaching a decision to suspend the Honourable Member for Kiang Central.
It is no business of the Honourable Speaker to engage in debate/argument with any member of the National Assembly. It is not within the province of the Honourable Speaker to defend the conduct of any public officer or other members of the executive. After all members of the National Assembly are on record for demanding the attendance of members of executive to respond to any matter raised in connection with the performance of their respective ministries or the conduct and/or behaviour of any officer in their ministries. It was totally wrong for the Honourable Speaker to arrogate to herself the responsibility of the defending matters that members of the executive should defend. The Honourable Speaker is, by the tradition of true parliamentary practice, the spokes person for the National Assembly and not the mouthpiece of executive or an irrational defender of persons holding public offices including the President. No President is above criticism or beyond reproach.
"What is more deprecating about the incident involving the Honourable Member for Kiang Central and the Honourable Speaker is the use of un-parliamentary language by the Honourable Speaker. The use of such words as "vomit" and "stupidity" in the context in which they were used by the Honourable Speaker is demonstrative of her level of maturity as speaker as well as her decorum and civility. A responsible speaker would not use the chair as a licence to insult any elected representative of the people whose conduct in the National Assembly has not been found to be contemptuous.
"The Honourable Speaker is reported to have said "If you know the Standing Orders, you would not address the speaker as Mr. Speaker". In deed if the Honourable Speaker knows and understands the Standing Orders of Gambia's National Assembly, she would not have descended unto the floor of the National Assembly and engage in debates/arguments with an Honourable Member, adopt a wrong procedure for his suspension and resort to the use of un-civil and un-parliamentary language.
"The comment by the Honourable Speaker that "The issue for permit, you will be given permit if you are not going to engage in politics because we are not in the time of politics" is not only a misuse of the occasion to chastise an Honourable Member whom the Honourable Speaker perceives as her political adversary but it also shows the arrogance of some senior officials of the current regime. In the last few days, we have all witnessed the broadcasting on The Gambia Radio and Television Services of a mass A.P.R.C political rally in Wuli West presided over by Honourable Yankuba Touray, the Minister for National Assembly Matters. What a contradiction if this is not time for politics!
"The United Democratic Party is firmly convinced that actions and utterances such as those by the Honourable Speaker are designed to systematically undermine our democratic institutions and practices.
A democracy that finds support in sycophancy and fear is bound to succumb to dictatorship. The action of the Honourable Speaker is a virus of sycophancy that is gradually infecting the National Assembly.
"All right thinking people and honest members of the current National Assembly will agree that the Honourable Belinda Bidwell will never have used un-parliamentary language however disturbed she may be with the conduct or behavior of a member. Also all honest members of the current National Assembly who served in the first National Assembly will agree that this is not the legacy the Honourable M.B. Wadda bequeathed to the nation.
"The Honourable Speaker who was herself a nominated member in the 2002/2007 National Assembly should adopt the Honourable M.B Wadda and the late Hon. Belinda Bidwell as her role models in the conduct of the affairs of the National Assembly.
The UDP condemns the arbitrary, unjustified and ill considered decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly to suspend the Honourable Member for Kiang Central.
The UDP demands that Honourable Speaker rescinds her decision of suspending Hon. Babanding Daffeh and that he be allowed to take part in the proceedings of the Assembly and be left free to express the views of those who elected him to represent them in the Assembly."