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Gambian Citizens Rally Against Proposed Legislative Bills

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Group of Protesters Yesterday at the National Assembly

By Buba Gagigo 

Gambian citizens, yesterday, took to the streets in significant numbers to voice their opposition to two upcoming bills: the Judicial Officers Bill and the National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Bill, slated for discussion in the National Assembly later this month.

The proposed legislation has sparked widespread concern among the public, particularly regarding the conditions of service outlined for judicial officers in the Judicial Officers Bill.

“The concerned citizens, together with many Gambians, both at home and in diaspora, civil servants and the private sector, unemployed and underemployed, wish to convey our concerns through a peaceful protest about the proposed bills in the National Assembly, designed to increase the salaries and pensions of members of the National Assembly as well as remuneration and other Entitlements for the judicial officers,” a member of their executive, Lamin Manneh said.

According to the group, the bills are viewed as an attempt to enrich members of parliament and judicial officers at the expense of the general populace, contravening Section 112, Subsection (b) of the 1997 Gambian Constitution. This section mandates that all elected officials serve the people faithfully and refrain from actions that might lead to self-enrichment or alienation from their constituents.

 “All members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia, desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole, and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and national interest.” 

“Regarding the clause from the Constitution, we as citizens and taxpayers who ought to be served by members of the National Assembly as enshrined in the Constitution are unequivocally opposed to these proposed bills that are aimed at serving the interests and enriching the members of parliament and judiciary over the general public as a whole,” Manneh mentioned during a Press conference on Sunday.

The demonstrators highlighted the economic hardships faced by many Gambians, including civil servants and private sector employees, struggling to make ends meet amidst soaring living costs.

“The majority of young people are unemployed, leaving them vulnerable to drugs and irregular migration. Addressing these unfortunate conditions that the majority of Gambians face should be the focus of a house that is supposed to be the guardian of the people by making laws that address the needs and aspirations of the general public, as opposed to designing laws that are aimed at enriching a few civil servants rather than the general public. As such, the Concerned Citizens are making the demands that should be attended to by members of the National Assembly, and failure to attend to our demands, we shall endeavour to organize a nationwide protest, and we shall continue to protest against these bills until our voices are heard and respected by you, the servants of the people,” they said.

The Judicial Officers (Remuneration and Other Entitlements) Bill 2024, set to be reintroduced by the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice, aims to align judicial remuneration with constitutional provisions and is expected to be a focal point of upcoming legislative sessions.

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