By Kebba Jeffang
The Director of Press and Public Relations at the presidency, Amie Bojang-Sissoho could not provide details when contacted to give account on what led to the removal of Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty, on Friday 10th November 2017.
As the sender of the press release, she said “That is all the information I have been given,” when questioned about details of the scanty release.
This has created a lot of speculation on social media over the weekend as many see it as a ‘coincidence’ following the issuance of permit by the police to allow young people to protest on Sunday amid poor electricity service in the country, which was initially denied. The Minister openly defended the police on Facebook for denying the youths the permit saying ‘times are still uncertain when it comes to the security of the homeland.’ The permit was later issued on Friday and the Minister was dismissed on the same day.
The press release stated that: “The General Public is hereby informed that His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, acting under the provision of Section71 (4) (b) of the Constitution of The Republic of the Gambia, has decided to relieve Mr. Mai Ahmad Fatty of his appointment as Minister of The Interior with effect from today, Friday, 10th November 2017. Mr Fatty has been re-deployed to the diplomatic service”.
The Ministry according to the statement will be under the purview of the Minister of Justice Aboubacarr Tambadou, until further notice.
This is the first cabinet reshuffle of Barrow’s Government since he took over in January.
A credible source explained that Fatty was having a discussion with the organisers of #OccupyWestField protest at his office, when he received a telephone call from the Office of the President for him to go. This interrupted the meeting as it was called off, the source said.
Within a short period, the permit was eventually issued as posted online by the organisers. This news accompanied the unexpected, which was to be the ‘redeployment’ of the Minister. This coincidence created speculations that the permit denial triggered his removal from office.
Meanwhile, few hours after his removal, he posted on Facebook: “Faith in the Almighty God is our strongest pillar of hope and strength. Service to humanity is service to God. The rare opportunity to serve one’s country faithfully, is a rare honour and privilege. May God bless The Gambia.”
He continued: “It has been a privilege to have served as Minister of the Interior of our country The Gambia, for the last nine months. I have nothing but optimism about the future of our nation. A better Gambia will be engendered soon enough. Thank you for the support you all have given me during my time as Interior Minister”. Mr. Fatty could not be reached on his cell phone for further comments. However, his press secretary Lamin Njie, said they want to keep a low profile on the matter for now.
It could be recalled that Mai Ahmad Fatty is the leader of the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) which is among the eight political establishments that formed ‘Coalition 2016 for Change’, to remove long term ruler Yahya Jammeh.
Several coalition supporters took to Facebook to criticize President Barrow’s decision with many describing it as ‘a betrayal.’