“The Good will That we Have Banked on is Being Undermined and Eroded’’ Lawyer Darboe

Monday, September 01, 2014

In a protest to the Gambia Police Force (GPF); concerning the manner the GPF is currently handling the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) application for the use of a public addressing system for their rallies, is rated very poor by lawyer Ousainou Darboe. Lawyer Darboe was addressing a press conference at his Pipeline residence on Sunday 31 August 2014.

Darboe warned that with or without a permit the UDP will hence forth go ahead with the party’s planned political rallies. He blamed the police of hiding behind flimsy excuses to deny the party its constitutional rights of assembly and to communicate to its membership.

This protest came following the denial of the UDP, a permit to hold and use the public addressing system for the 30th August 2014 rally schedule to take place at Cedar club in Latrikunda. This was preceded by an earlier one which approval was delayed; which did not give enough time for its publicity.

The letter below is courtesy Kairo News

PERMIT APPLICATION FOR USE OF P.A. SYSTEM DURING RALLY AT EBONY IN SERREKUNDA CENTRAL ON THE 23″ AUGUST 2014

I write on behalf of the United Democratic Party to acknowledge receipt of your letter ref. GPF/078/8/(105) dated 20111 August 2014 on the above subject in which you recommend a rescheduling of the rally to a
different venue.

I wish to make a few observations on the handling of our applications for use of a Public Address System at our rallies.

I recall that shortly after the conclusion of the Kanilai International Roots Festival the Campaign Manager of the UDP accompanied me to a meeting with you. At this meeting I applauded the good will of the current leadership of The Gambia Police Force but raised some matters of concern amongst them is the timing of the approval of permits for use of P.A. system. I made it clear that since the GRTS will not announce our
scheduled rallies without proof that the party has secured a permit, it is important that our applications are treated timeously so that there is adequate time to carry out the required publicity.

Before and after that meeting, we have always submitted application in time to allow you sufficient time and space to do whatever is required in arriving at a decision.

I recall on 19th July 2014, an application was submitted for the use of a PA at rally scheduled to take place on 9″ August at Ebony in Serrekunda. After several follow ups, your office asked Mr. Sandeng to pick up the permit on Thursday 7th August 2014.

Because we did not have adequate time to carry out publicity — effectively there was only one day — our Campaign Manager called on you and asked that the permit be not issued as its usefulness is questionable.

On 1 August 2014 we submitted another application for a permit to use a P.A. System at a rally to specifically celebrate the 18th anniversary of the founding of the party. We followed up to check on the status of this application virtually on a daily basis until at about 5pm on Wednesday 20th August 2014 when you delivered, your letter under reference.

I have taken trouble to recapitulate the above facts to show that the good will that we have banked on is being undermined and eroded. It is my view that the granting of permits must be real and not merely apparent.

We submit applications in time so that they can be treated and a response received from you’ on time. It is my belief that permits granted on the last working day of the week amounts to a refusal because there is just not time to do the necessary.

As pointed out above, your letter under reference was received at about 5 PM on 20th August. The reason advanced in support of your recommendation could have been communicated much earlier and this would demonstrate the bona fides of the recommendation.

In any event, the UDP and other parties have held rallies at this particular venue in past rainy seasons and the conditions of the roads linking to the main road have not changed. Pedestrians and motorist never experienced any difficulty and for commercial vehicles it has always been beneficial due to the number of passengers they ferry to the venue. Even though the UDP does not agree with the reason for your recommendation to re-schedule the rally to another venue, I HEREBY INFORM you that the proposed rally is now scheduled to hold at the Cedar Club Latrikunda (opposite Africell) on Saturday 30″ August 2014
between the hours the 3pm and 10 pm. This venue is one that has been used by us on several occasions to hold rallies.

I implore you to attend to this matter timeously so that a situation does not arise to interfere with our arrangements.

Yours in the Service Of The Gambia

OUSAINOU DARBOE
SECR ET4RY GENERAL AND PARTY LEADER

CC: The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of the Interior
Banjul

The Director General NIA
Marina Parade
Banjul

The Chairman .IEC
Katuf. ing Municipality

Author: Fatou. Y.Sanyang Ceesay
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