By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambian President Adama Barrow told journalists that the death of Haruna Jatta, was a very unfortunate incident.
He made this statement as he held his second bi-annual press conference on Thursday, July 27, at his Fajara office.
He said Haruna’s killing is under investigation while the ongoing trial involving other Foni protesters is under study for withdrawal or continuation.
“When that incident occurred, I was traveling to Liberia but I instructed my security officials to sit with the Secretary General and other government officials to discuss how best to resolve the issue. I asked them to release a public statement about the issue,” he said.
Barrow added that he called the Minister of the Interior to leave the Liberia Summit because of the issue so that they can all sit and discuss and release a statement on behalf of the government.
“That was what happened and the statement was given to the Minister to read on behalf of the government. When I arrived I felt that I should not make a statement because if there are contradictions that can aggravate the matter. So I considered that the statement that was said was my statement,” he said.
He indicated that the incident is not something he likes but the government wants stability in the country.
“ECOWAS forces are in the Gambia to defend and protect the Gambian people. There was a time that it was a desperate moment for everybody. ECOWAS mission in the Gambia is for the country’s interest and that is to ensure stability,” he emphasized.
Barrow said they want a complete stability before they continue while expressing optimism that the issue of ECOMIG forces will one day have a limit.
He said the trial involving some Foni people relating to the incident is under study whether it will be dropped or not. He said there is also a free judiciary where the executive is not involved at all.
“I don’t even call the Chief Justice. We want an independent judiciary, that is why we are brave enough to appoint Assan Jallow, a human rights lawyer and we appointed Justice Minister, another human rights lawyer,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the issue of the dilapidated road condition between Basse and Koina, in the Upper River Region, Barrow said it was a campaign promise that his government will not sign any road construction contract without first signing Basse-Koina road construction contract.
He said his government is still standing by this promise and there are ongoing talks to work on the road.
“Should the loan request fail, we will use the government taxes to construct that road because that of Laminkoto-Passamas road is already under construction. There will be a road that will be connected from that road towards the Bansang and Basse crossing points.
That means if the Laminkoto-Passamas road is done it will be like North Bank roads are completed. It will be left for the South Bank that is why I said if necessary the state itself will finance it so that both roads are usable,” he said.
He said his government is also thinking about reviving river transport system in the country. He informed that they have investors who are also thinking in the same direction.
“The way we plan to do it this time will be better than what was existing before,” he vowed.
Concerning the two top priorities of his administration, the President mentioned the economy as priority number one. He justified that everything is based on the economy.
He said they have been working very hard to stabilize the economy by ensuring securing of budget support. According to him, they took over from a government that virtually emptied the state coffers which make building the economy paramount.
He said electricity follows the economy because without stable electricity the economy will continue to struggle and the government will not be able to attract investors.
“A lot of investors are interested in this area but we are very careful as a government and we listen to the advice of our technicians so that we can get the best for this country,” he said.
He talks about the energy sector roadmap that entails the short, medium and long term plans to solve the energy problems.
President Barrow highlighted that the health is paramount and a lot are in the store for the improvement of the health sector in the country. He informed that they have changed the management of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital where, he said, there are a lot of reforms going on. He said to make sure the meagre resource is managed there all payments are done through the bank.
“Even yesterday, I had a meeting with investors who have the intention of investing in that area and the negotiations are in an advanced stage,” said Barrow.
Meanwhile, he was questioned why he does not appoint the minister of defense. His response was: “May be you are not aware but I am the minister of defence,”
Barrow said he could not head to State House because maintenance is still ongoing. He expressed hope that in two months, he will relocate to the State House in Banjul.
Amie Bojang-Sissoho, the Director of Press and Public Relations informed journalists of the launching of the maiden State House bi-annual newsletter as well as and upgraded State House website.
“This newsletter will be kept for archival purpose. This maiden newsletter had covered President Barrow’s engagements over the last six months,” she said.
Demba Ali Jawo, Minister of Information, Communication infrastructure said the President has agreed to talk to the media directly every six months.
In launching the newsletter, Jawo said it is necessary for the record of the activities of the president that they can reference themselves to if need be.