By Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of the Interior, Hon. Mai Ahmad Fatty, in his response to a question raised by the National Assembly Member for Banjul South regarding the Kanilai and Farato incidents, expressed regret and pointed out that they have learnt lessons about it. He said the country is better prepared now to handle such incidents and that every incident or situation presents strategies and opportunities for both the government and the affected communities of Foni and Farato.
The Minister made these remarks during the question and answer session of the Friday sitting of the second ordinary session of the National Assembly, in Banjul. The member for Banjul South further asked the Minister to explain to deputies on the much needed restoration of confidence in the security units and how these intended to be communicated effectively to the public, as we are in dire need of sensitization to boost up confidence in the country’s security apparatus.
The Interior Minister in his response said his Ministry intends to improve police operational planning systems, provide relevant, timely and objective information on Government policies, actions and projects to enhance public awareness through strengthened community policing in all regions. He further substantiated that all the Ministries and police have media representatives which he said is historic in the history of the Gambia. In her supplementary question, the member further asked the Interior Minister to dilate on how his Ministry would make the people know that the country is secure?
Mr. Fatty said the issue of communication is vital and added that during their two day cabinet meeting few months ago, one of the key subjects discussed was communication and pointed out that his office is opened to the media.
Hon. Halifa Sallah in his supplementary question asked the Interior Minister to indicate whether they have drawn lessons from the Kanilai incident and whether they’ve created institutions and mechanisms to be able to address such incidents to prevent reoccurrences.
“We both learnt that dealing with civil conflicts requires many approaches and responding to this kind of situations, requires lots of consultations, engagements and better approaches,” said Minister Fatty.
Minister Fatty affirmed to members that Hon. Sallah is aware of many consultations that were made in their attempt to handle the Kanilai incident and his comments on the incident are all part of the lessons they’ve learnt and drawn lessons from. He stated that the lessons learnt will be used to avert future reoccurrences and will enable them to empower and strengthen their next decision making, in dealing with such incidents.
He said the incident was an unfortunate situation adding that they have taken a post-mortem of it. He also said it was unbearable and could have been handled better by the government and the communities of Foni. The Minister of Interior averred that lessons have to be learnt by both sides. He further said engagement still continue with communities in Foni and they are sensitizing and consulting them as they are part of The Gambia and deserve what every Gambian community deserves.
He said that the citizenry should be equally treated and that there is the need to have common vision, common purpose and common interest to resolve common issues which, he affirmed, is really the approach quoted by the Hon. Member for Serrekunda.
The Member for Wuli East, Hon. Suwaibou Touray in his supplementary question on demonstration, asked the Interior Minister on any sensitization program especially for the security forces in handling demonstrations, since we all know that demonstration is a right of the people.
Minister Fatty said his ministry will protect every provision relating to the fundamental rights of the people in accordance with the constitution. He said mistake is inevitable and when something is wrong, they will learn from it and move on. He said this is what is called a democratic dispensation and the laws will be enforced and the Police are aware of that. He said the Gambia Police Force and other satellite institutions within the Ministry of Interior are fully in line with that and he will do his utmost to see that Gambians enjoy the democracy that they have been yearning for. He assured the Legislative body that his Ministry will do its best to do the right thing.