Marr Nyang, Executive Director of Gambia Participates; Sait Matty Jaw, Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Policy Development (CRPD); and Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty have told NewDay that their sole aim in instituting court action over a plethora of issues in the country was to enrich democracy in The Gambia and to reinforce the vital importance of the concept of separation of powers; without which, they say, there is no true democracy.
Gambia Participates and CRPD are the two civil society organizations that jointly instituted a suit at the Supreme Court against the proposal by members of the National Assembly to appropriate and allocate a loan of D54 million to themselves.
Both organizations also recently sued the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Mayor of Banjul to the Banjul High Court over voter attestations they alleged were being issued by the mayor in contravention of the law.
They won in both cases.
Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty, on the other hand, is the legal mind representing these organisations in court. Abdoulie is also engaged in a few other similar cases and causes, among them is the pending suit against the Attorney General and IEC seeking the courts to enforce that both IEC and the government of The Gambia ensure that Gambians in the Diaspora get to vote as already enshrined in law.
According to Marr Nyang and Sait Matty, Gambia Participates and CRPD aim at promoting transparency and citizen-led accountability in the country.
“We want to protect the democratic space of the Gambia and our goal is to see strengthened democratic institutions in our country; separation of powers, rule of law, and most importantly, effective anti-corruption mechanisms that will frustrate the occurrence of both public sector and private sector corruption. We also want to change the narrative of how this country is being governed.
“Governance is very sensitive and broad so those in power sometimes think that they are doing the right thing to serve the interest of the people while forgetting that the people have actually voted for a law, which is the Constitution. So, anything done outside that particular jurisdiction is not acceptable; and the government must work within the frame of the laws that citizens have chosen,” he said.
He also explained that going to the courts is done as a means of last resort after all other genial engagements may have been rebuffed or ignored.
“We do not want to go to court every now and then. That’s the last thing you want to do in advocacy so we prefer being more collaborative with the government in ensuring that we fix things. However, if we exhaust all means of engagement and see no signs of cooperation from the public bodies then we will really have to go to court, especially when the issue has to do with violation of the laws and misuse of public wealth with impunity.”
“Our end goal is simple: we exist to support the transformation of The Gambia into a democratic state. We believe that the majority of Gambians want democracy, they want to elect their leaders through democratic procedures and they also want to ensure that their rights are protected.
“So, our end goal is to strengthen democracy, protect this country, protect the next generation of Gambians, protect our processes and democracy.
We believe we have a role and stake in that process and it is through some of these engagements that we can change the political history of this country.
“As a civil society organisation, we are not here to be bystanders, we are here to influence the process and we will try as much as possible to achieve that.
“The actions and activities that we have taken so far are in line with the interest of the public. Despite these issues being politicised sometimes, we are not politicians, we are civil society organisations and we will continue to protect the citizens’ interests, which is our end goal.
Published on July 19, 2021