Deposed Gambian Presidents, be it constitutional or unconstitutional can now enjoy free foreign holidays, cars and personal staff for the rest of their lives, including their spouses and loved ones,according to a new law enacted by the Gambian Parliament. The controversial bill which was enacted into law also provides free personal secretary and a monthly salary of D15,000 Dalasis (excluding other incentives) for outgoing Gambian Presidents. Under the new law, the state is also duty bound to provide gas and security for former Presidents.

Members of the opposition bench earlier raises concern over such exorbitant spending, which they say would no doubt have an adverse effect on the country’s ailing economy. But the government insists that  such a bill was timely and should be okayed by Parliament. As usual, the Ruling APRC which dominates the house overwhelmingly voted in favour of  the new law.

Many observers believe that the government’s move was calculated to pre-empt future investigations regarding unauthorized funds that were provided to deposed President Jawara for his up keeping. Mr.Jawara who was living in self imposed exile in the United Kingdom, responded to an amnesty extended to him and his family by the government to return home. Shortly after his return, the Jammeh government returned  his confiscated Cape Point villa and other properties earlier attached by the late Algali Commission. The former statesman was also provided with guards and monthly salary by the state. Now that the state is coming out in the open to confirm such a story, many believe that President Jammeh is setting a sound base for himself and his loved ones in the event of his down fall.

President Jammeh who is to be sworn in in few days time was said to be living in uncertainty these days, as he questions the loyalty of the men and women of the army. Some National Security experts who spoke to this paper said the President might as well recruit one of his ethnic group members to succeed him in the near future in a bid to further fortify his personal security. The President the expert said”is increasingly worried and wants to enjoy the same treatment Jawara enjoyed in the event of his fall.” For Jammeh to relinquish power gracefully is a forgotten conclusion. What is evident is that Jammeh  prefers his  own people to succeed him than any other tribe in that impoverished West African country.

Under the new law, outgoing Presidents are entitled to go on holidays on a yearly basis overseas. The state should also take care of their hotel bills and medical expenses as well. The personal comfort and luxury extended to former Presidents might tempt Jammeh to cut his term short to live a happy life. The new law provides a lot of incentives to former Presidents, even though it might cause the country economically.

An APRC National Assembly Member who spoke to this reporter shortly after the passage of the new law said”Our hands were tied and as such we must go by what the President wants. In my honest view, the bill would encourage corruption. If Presidents know that they would be taken care off after their departure by the state, they would future steal. Our economy cannot foot for such expenses even the speaker knows about that. I’m made to vote for something, I don’t like. Just for the records, this bill is unconstitutional.”said the APRC NAM who have been in Parliament since 1996.

The APRC NAM said prior to the passage of the bill they were summoned to a meeting by the Speaker, where they discussed the need to speak with one voice to okay the controversial bill.

Meanwhile, members of the Gambian public have accused the government of trying to repeat the actions of the Deposed PPP administration. “I can vividly remember President Jammeh accusing President Jawara of corruption. He complained about Jawara’s unfinished holidays to England. Today, he has passed a law promoting waste of state resources. We are now going back to the old days. We pray to God that this country is rescued as soon as possible from this government. The President is confused and needs help. He is creating conditions for change and change is impossible God willing.”said a petty trader at the Albert Market.

Another concerned Gambian said if the said law is enforced  poverty stricken Gambians would continue to suffer. “What we expect from this government is to figure out how to improve our lives and not to further exploit poor tax payers. We have not reach the level where we can foot such expenses. The average Gambian can hardly afford one decent meal a day. The government should work on  how to bring the price of rice and other commodities down. There is hardship in this country. All these prostitution, armed robbery, stealing and begging  is due to the economic crisis. The government should have think twice before passing such a law. President Jammeh and his cohorts are blood sockers. We derserve better. “said a father of ten kids.

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 (Archive on Friday, December 29, 2006)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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