May 25, 2023

The only female member on the Gambian delegation to the Community Parliament, Fatoumatta Njai has slammed the Authority of Heads of States and Governments and the sub-regional bloc for ignoring early warning signs that leads to coups in the wake of the high political tension currently in Senegal.

According to her the Authority of Heads of States has become a fifteen (15) member club that only seek to protect the interest of ruling governments and to entrench themselves in power at the expense of ordinary community citizens.

“I think as Parliament, we should look into that and ensure that every citizen of the Community is protected and irrespective of their party affiliation. We come to the Community Parliament read and adopt reports, we never follow up on those reports, the plight of our citizens are ignored, – what is happening in Senegal?”

Madam Njai made the observations on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at the closing of the 2023 first Ordinary Session in Abuja Nigeria when the joint Committees of Political Affairs, Peace, Security & APRM / Legal Affairs and Human Rights report was being presented for adoption at the plenary.

It was however, stated during contributions towards the debate on the floor that ECOWAS as a bloc is doing a lot of close door engagements to prevent coups in the sub-regional bloc.

There is political tension currently in Senegal, where a case of rape is pending in the court against the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and this has heightened political tensions in the country.

She argued that currently three member states that experience coup – Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso are in transition to constitutional rule, but the way things are going, as a sub-regional bloc, we might have more all because ECOWAS is not proactive in stopping the root causes of constitutional changes, “they ignore the root cause”, she lamented.

Additionally, she pointed out that her home Country just came out of a local level election and the amount of disrespect that government officials with the security have inflicted on civilians if they had reacted there would have been chaos.

“ECOWAS should recognise and respect the right of the opposition”.

On the debate and adoption of the joint Committees report, she pointed out that on the Senegal political situation all she sees is colleagues from Senegal reacting and stating points in the interest of their political afflations’ ignoring the obvious signs”.

The Banjul South lawmaker in the Gambia who is a neighbour to Senegal, told the plenary she does not see her colleagues speaking in the interest of their citizens on the floor. Again she supports the idea of sending fact finding missions to member states when there are issues to be addressed.

But was quick to point out that, when they go they go and seat with the ruling government and they tell them what they want them to know instead of going to the citizens to verify what is on the ground.

She said instead of spending weeks, they go there for a day or two; they rather wine and dine with the authorities and at the end of the day come out with reports, “for us to adopt that do not reflect realities on the ground”.

She gave a classical example of her country report, in the Gambia, stating that at the moment, there is Acute Kidney Infection leading to the death of some 70 children but this was not stated in their country report. “So  are we here enjoying at the expense of our citizens or we should rather go to the grounds and see what is happening rather than sitting here  talking about reports that do not have true reflections of the situation on the ground?”

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/