By Kebba Jeffang
Halifa Sallah, Spokesperson of the Coalition, while talking on diverse issues regarding the priorities and structures envisaged by the incoming government, including the security apparatus, said the security officers would have been given the relevant knowledge and skills to be able to get civil jobs after they finished serving their terms.
Sallah, who spoke to this reporter on Wednesday, 28 December, at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, added that by 19th January, 2017, the ministers of the new government will take over from him and be entrusted the task of being spokespersons of their respective ministries.
Commenting further on the security and governance agenda of the new coalition government, he said “when you look at the manifesto it is very clear we want to build a country where you have separation of powers so that the executive, the judiciary and the legislative can be allowed to perform their duties. The president-elect will become the commander-in-chief and when you take up a government constitutionally, the institutions remain and all you need to do is to reform those institutions.”
He said with regards to the security forces, they will be having a government which is committed to the rule of law and good governance, democracy and respect of the people’s fundamental rights. Therefore, he added, they have to give the security personnel the proper orientation so that from henceforth they know it is a new dispensation.
Sallah went on to say that “a government that comes through democracy will earn the respect of governments all over the world. Gambia is a small country and we are not at war with our neighbours. It means the armed forces that we have will now have to go through training as we would be having training opportunities to develop their capacities and they will also go for further training for peacekeeping which means an army of that nature will now be attracted to the international community for peacekeeping. We will train the police, the army and the security apparatus so that many of them can go outside training to earn better income and live a prosperous life so that they become loyal to the civil authority.”
He added “so fundamentally, you must give incentives to increase income and diversify what military personnel should do because some of them may stay in the army for a long time but others serve for 5 or 10 years and so you must train them so that they can re-enter into civil life.”
The former minority leader said in most instances what would have to happen is to prepare them for civil works so that their training can intensify in that. He said some of them would go into the provision of health service since all those are ways and means of integrating the ex-servicemen from the security forces into the community. He said this is because doctors will be among them and people can get treatment while others will be medics. “So, in short, we are thinking of a new republican army and security outfit which will respect and protect the population.”
On whether the dreaded NIA security outfit will be reformed, Mr. Sallah said the present commander in chief, who is the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh, is running his government the way he wants it and that the president-elect Adama Barrow, who is the incoming president, will also run the government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and principles of the Coalition Manifesto. “What I must assure you is that all the institutions will adopt new dispensation that has respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, rule of law, democracy and good governance.”
Also dilating on the key programmes and policies that the Coalition government will be engaging on in the next 3 years, he said the coalition for now can only talk about general policies among which they can say there is need to stabilize the economy. He said stabilizing the economy means “if you look at the budget now you can see the real deficit and the budget depends entirely on loans to be able to at least meet what is called recurrent budget. So it is necessary to enhance or increase the revenue to increase salaries and other things and we must also get rid of wasteful budgetary items and consider investing on the general welfare of people.”
He added that in doing that, the Gambia must be opened up for investments so that many people as a result will invest in The Gambia and jobs will be created to increase the earning capacity of the government to be able to provide more services.
“You can also build up the productive base such as making best use of mining and making public corporations more efficient and pay dividend to the government. There will be different types of administrations that will yield different economic benefits to the population,” noted Sallah.
On arbitrary arrests and detentions without trial, Mr. Sallah said “fundamentally, we are to ensure that there will be no detentions without trial, disappearances without trace. It means the protection of the rights of the people and the opening up of the media will be guaranteed which will create an open society and generates more income for investors in the media and opens up the Gambia to more friends and donors.”
The Spokesperson said these in short are some of the areas that the Coalition can address at the moment. He said people must differentiate a coalition from a government to be. He said their government to be will comprise all the ministries and those ministries will form the real core of policy making and it is those ministers who will tell you what the policies will be and they will be seeking advice from the coalition.
“So in short those ministers will prepare the policies to be implemented by the government and they will become spokespersons of the cabinet.
“On the 2017 budgetary allocation by the national assembly, Sallah said it is a Constitutional requirement that the government should submit the budget for approval by the national assembly. He said therefore the 2017 budget that was recently approved is constitutional but the incoming government can also submit a supplementary budget to the parliament if it deems it necessary.”