The Broken Gavel – Halifa Sallah v Madam Denton (A Rejoinder)

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By Musa Camara

It’s refreshing to have read an opinion piece with the above caption by Mr. Sheriff Kora deriding Mr. Halifa Sallah for his “fracas” with the Speaker, Ms. Marian Denton-Jack and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Amadou Sanneh in the National Assembly few weeks ago. Mr. Kora is an old friend we call by the nickname Doctor—he once told me he’s a namesake of Doctor Sheriff Ceesay of Kololi Clinic. In normal circumstances, as it’s been on many occasions in the past, I would not have responded to him. But I was one of his colleagues from The Gambia High School with whom he had spent his “past times” at the National Assembly “shortly after the elections in 1996” and had been present at the event he recounted in his article. And given the malicious allegations, dishonest fabrications, and willful deceptions he made in his article, I feel compelled to set the record straight. Even though ‘friendship’ is important to preserve—and I hope we continue to be friends after this aberration—any other action, short of responding in writing, would tantamount to dereliction of duty and a disservice to our beloved country on my part. The country and the future of its two million inhabitants, I believe, are more important than any single individual or individual relationships.

Gambians hopes to create a dispensation where all will be able to freely and responsibly express their views on any national matter to facilitate the building of a democracy where we may all agree to disagree without being needlessly disagreeable. To nurture that culture, we should value the truth as we know and concede it to whoever—friend or foe—if we are to create a more just and fairer society. Mr. Sheriff Kora’s take on the “fracas” that took place in the National Assembly failed in establishing the simple truth, but went even further to confound it with malicious allegations and blatant lies. I would endeavor to set that record straight in this piece hoping to contribute to a political culture in The Gambia where we can at least not tolerate distortion of our history for we owe it to our posterity to tell them the truth about our entire history. It’s only when the full account of our history is related to our children, with as much objectivity as possible, that they would build on our successes and achievements but also learn from our failures to make their own destinies. It’s in the pursuit of writing that objective history for our people in mind that I write to dispel the latest fabrications Mr. Kora is peddling to recreate our history.

Mr. Kora stated without any doubt that he had “a vivid recollection of that January evening in 1997 when Mr. Halifa Sallah declined to take oath until after the President declared the house open,” which he added “created a heated banter to the point of Sallah being escorted out of that August Assembly.” For the record, Mr. Sallah was not elected to the National Assembly in 1997 and as a private citizen, he could not possibly have been required to be on the floor of the National Assembly to take the prescribed oaths. Contrary to Mr. Kora’s claim, Mr. Sallah never engaged in any banter with the former speaker Mr. Mustapha B. Wadda to have been escorted out of the National Assembly on that day. Since Mr. Kora said he had “vivid recollection of the January evening in 1997,” the readers can draw the conclusion that he fabricated this story out of thin air. The encounter that Mr. Kora distorted, in a way no one but only he could, occurred between Mr. Sidia Jatta who was elected by the people of Wuli constituency and the late Justice Omaru Algali, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia. Mr. Jatta and Mr. Sallah are distinctively two different people whom Mr. Kora would not have confused because one of these two gentlemen was supposedly Mr. Kora’s “hero.” No one confuses one’s hero with someone else’s—not even a five-year old.

The constitution requires that members elected to the National Assembly be sworn in by taking the prescribed oaths before assuming their responsibilities. This is stipulated in Section 88 (2) which reads: “Before taking his or her seat in the National Assembly, a member shall take the prescribed oaths before the Speaker.” That gathering was called for the newly elected members to select a speaker, deputy speaker, and swear into office. Mr. Jatta argued that it was unconstitutional for the newly elected members to the National Assembly to take the prescribed oaths at the time before the president was sworn into office to bring in operations the voters’ approved 1997 Constitution. Mr. Jatta had written to the authorities when the event and venue for the swearing in ceremony of the newly elected members was announced to the public. He based his argument on Schedule 2, Subsection 2 of the 1997 Constitution that reads:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the person duly elected President of The Gambia in accordance with the Elections Decree, 1996 shall be the first President of the Second Republic of The Gambia and shall assume office as President on the date he or she is sworn in. The first President shall hold the office of President in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. This constitution shall come into effect upon the swearing in of the first President.

According to Mr. Jatta, the constitution requires members of the National Assembly to take the prescribed oaths before assuming their duties but at the time of swearing them to the oaths, the constitution that required elected members to take the prescribed oaths was not in force. He contended that it could only take effect when the president was sworn in first there and then members of the National Assembly could be sworn in under the constitution. His argument was that one cannot follow provisions of a constitution when that document had not taken effect. That constitutional debate occurred between Justice Algali who was the Chief Justice at the time and Mr. Sidia Jatta who was elected to the National Assembly by the people of Wuli Constituency in 1997, but was not between Mr. Sallah and Mr. Wadda as Mr. Kora maliciously distorted. It may have been “rigidity in following the proper procedures and rules of the House” for Mr. Kora, but for the rest of the world, it was a simple common sense established in the constitution to herald a new democratic dispensation. It’s a simple logic that the baby must be birthed before one organizes the naming ceremony. As readers could see Mr. Sallah was in the gallery as a spectator and an eyewitness to history just like Mr. Kora, foreign diplomats, other Gambian citizens and my humble self. In fact, the incident did not occur in the evening as Mr. Kora falsely claimed but it was around late morning to midday.

When Justice Algali insisted that the members will be sworn in regardless, all those members of the National Assembly who were present—including newly elected members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) led by Mr. Kemeseng Jammeh, and the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) led by Mr. Hamat Bah—took the prescribed oaths at that gathering. Mr. Sidia Jatta was the last member called to be sworn in because the clerk called names by the geographical order of the constituencies. When came Mr. Jatta’s turn to be sworn in, he told Justice Algali and the world that he would not take the prescribed oaths until the president was sworn into office. He added that he wanted his statement and refusal be entered in the records to which Justice Algali concurred and had no objection. Mr. Jatta was not escorted out of the National Assembly but the gathering was dismissed as scheduled for a jamboree in the evening where the then president-elect Jammeh was sworn in properly. Mr. Jatta, as expected, did not bother to attend that circus of the evening. That was the day the UDP and NRP midwifed Yahya Jammeh’s ‘unconstitutional rule’ as they gave him a National Assembly that was not lawfully constituted in accordance with the supreme law of the land. They strangulated the new constitution with its own umbilical cord as it was being birthed into existence only to arrive a comatose republic. It set the precedence for Jammeh to govern the country without respecting all of its provisions. Mr. Jatta took the prescribed oaths on the first deliberation of the new National Assembly administered by the new clerk and speaker of the First National Assembly of the Second Republic.

To this day, I continued to hold the view that all the laws passed by that legislative body in the first five years from 1997 to 2002 were unconstitutional because the members — with the exception of Mr. Jatta, and I believe but not sure, Mr. Abdoulie Kanaji Jawla who did not attend the first gathering but took the oaths on the same day as Mr. Jatta — did not take the prescribed oaths after the constitution came into force. Readers who are familiar with this history of our country and can validate my account may draw the conclusion that Mr. Kora’s account on the matter is either a figment of his imagination or delusionary hallucination he casts as reality and history. In fact, Mr. Kora thought Mr. Jatta was wrong otherwise members of the UDP, in a party led by a prominent lawyer—Mr. Ousainou Darboe, would have sided with him. He was further impressed and persuaded by Justice Algali whom he thought was an eminent jurist and a distinguished judge who had made his name in the commission of enquiry that investigated former government officials. Mr. Jatta did not content that he’d not take the prescribed oaths “until after the President declared the house open” as Mr. Kora falsely claimed. All he demanded was that the president-elect take the prescribed oath, witnessed and published in the records for the general public, and cared less whether he took it at the State House or in the National Assembly building but must be done before the newly elected members of the National Assembly can be sworn into office. President-elect Jammeh had organized a wasteful swearing-in ceremony at the independence stadium after he won the presidential elections but quickly realized that he could not be a constitutional president until National Assembly elections were conducted and the members were seated to legislate. While Mr. Ousainou Darboe and Mr. Hamat Bah attended that pointless jamboree, the PDOIS leaders boycotted the event.

Talking about the event at the National Assembly, Mr. Kora went back to history but as readers would by now know, he’s not a good historian. Again, his accounts are not based on facts and empirical evidence but relied principally on fuzzy and distorted memories without verifying their validities. He intimated that “the events that transpired between Mr. Halifa Sallah and Speaker Denton a few days ago, certainly evoked memories of the good old days when I sang his glory in the National Assembly” but now “unlike the past, I am less sympathetic to the cause and conduct of honorable Sallah.” The Mr. Sheriff Kora I know, contrary to his claims, has never “sang the glory” of Mr. Sallah in the National Assembly nor has he been ever “sympathetic to the cause and conduct of honorable Sallah.” Mr. Kora had to hide behind the naivety of a “young mind” to present himself in the only condition he could have shown “solidarity with Halifa’s plight.” He can’t be an adult and a wiser individual, and capable of choosing his “battles well” to have considered Mr. Sallah who was “sticking to his convictions and standing up for what’s right against the APRC bigwigs” his “hero.” In doing so, Mr. Kora would have committed heresy, social deviancy, juvenile delinquency and perhaps political blasphemy in the eyes of his folks. It was a calculated statement to buffer his credibility for strategic posturing to attack Mr. Sallah. It’s also designed to provide a cover for himself within the circles of the UDP especially with those who may not know that Mr. Kora has always been a UDP supporters since the founding of that party in 1996. Nevertheless, the “bigwigs” within that party know he’s a political hitman with a job to do and therefore any amount of deception or even outright lie would be accepted to accomplish the mission.

The problem, however, is that the incident never occurred and Mr. Sallah could not have been any “hero” for Mr. Kora to sing his glory or show any solidarity. I believe on that day in January 1997, Mr. Kora thought he was intellectually fully developed and knew more than Mr. Sallah to have been a hero for him. By the time he left Armitage High School for Sixth Forms in The Gambia High School in 1996, Mr. Kora had already discovered his real heroes from among the Bansang elites—a class he was born into and has defended through his formative years to date—whom he considers the nemeses of Mr. Sallah. Mr. Sallah serving as a “hero” to him would have been the world’s most kept secret to even Mr. Kora himself. I can say categorically that he has never publicly supported Mr. Sallah for one second in his adult life, and arguably through his existence on this earth, as he has been an ardent supporter of the United Democratic Party (UDP) ever since. To project himself as someone who had looked up to Mr. Sallah as his role model and hero, but has now fully matured enough to see the hero’s flaws to abandon him, Mr. Kora attempted to cast supporters of Mr. Sallah and PDOIS as naïve children who have not grown up yet, will never grow up to maturity, not truly educated, or are completely ignorant people. Knowing the truth about Mr. Kora’s political leaning, it revealed to me a certain desperation and disgusting dishonesty I never would have imagined from him.

The truth is that Mr. Kora emigrated to the United States in around 2000 where he has been resident since and could never have been singing Mr. Sallah’s glory in the National Assembly who was first elected to that body in 2002. The Mr. Kora I know is vehemently anti-PDOIS Party and almost at the verge of being violently anti-Halifa Sallah that the readers could see as he was “torn between disbelief and utter rage” by Mr. Sallah’s “fracas” with the Speaker. All I and most readers would have expected from Mr. Kora is to tell the simple truth, proceed with his argument, and leave the readers to gauge his conscious biases and draw their own conclusions. Simply calling Mr. Sallah and Mr. Jatta as “shining stars” juxtaposed by “the late Edrisa Samba Sallah of Sami”— Mr. Edrisa Samba Sallah I understand is not deceased and Mr. Kora has retracted that false statement and apologized to him — exposes one of his unconscious biases as he had always thought of the leaders of the PDOIS as crazies and lunatics. I, for one, would not expressed a modicum of surprise if someone alleges Mr. Kora claimed to have more knowledge, level headedness and wisdom than Mr. Halifa Sallah, Mr. Sidia Jatta, and the entire members of the PDOIS party and all their supporters combined. The last time I heard him talking on the Facebook Live Show hosted by our mutual friend — Mr. Lamin Conateh — few weeks ago, he was still ranting against and bashing Mr. Sallah, without mentioning his name directly, for not joining the ‘Coalition Government’ where he said everyone is invited, unless one excluded oneself. If Mr. Kora ever agreed with Mr. Sallah on anything, it would be because PDOIS is collaborating with the UDP which he would see as they have capitulated and fallen in line behind his preferred political party; or that Mr. Sallah was eviscerating Yahya Jammeh and the “APRC bigwig” whom Mr. Kora considered their common enemies. We all know the old adage that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. I encourage the readers to scan through his writings as they would see that he labors in extraneous torture to avoid mentioning the word PDOIS and its leaders even where required for factual reference.

On the event on that day of infamy at the National Assembly, Mr. Kora argued that “it is the duty of the minister to give a detailed cost–benefit analysis of the loan agreement for the members of the parliament to understand and to probe him for more information where necessary. His role is to inform them, get their buy in in order to minimize resistance to support the loan agreement.” The truth is that, Mr. Amadou Sanneh, the Minister of Finance, was not giving any detailed cost-benefit analysis but deriding members of the National Assembly for rejecting his general framework for the loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China. Members of the National Assembly wanted details on, according to sources, the ¥500 million (Chinese Yuan) which according to some estimates to approximately $83 million. In fact, the members insisted the amount of the loan be stated in dollars or dalasis which approximates to D 4 billion in our local currency. Separation of powers also means that leaders in the executive branch of government respect the independence of the other two branches and therefore they do not berate or insult them—not especially when they are playing host to them in the legislature or in the Judiciary. Mr. Sanneh could have gone to his ministry or the State House, call a press conference to inform the Gambian people of their position. He did not, but instead stood in the National Assembly as a rowdy and unruly guest to lambast the legislators for doing the responsible thing one would expect be done by any independent legislature. Mr. Sanneh’s statement was a flagrant violation of Section 36 (4), of the Standing Orders which states that “It shall be out of Order to use offensive, insulting, accusation about members of the National Assembly.” The speaker, Ms. Mariam Denton-Jack, let him get away with it but even after Mr. Sallah raised an objection, she swiveled into an open denial in a broad daylight.

The speaker runs that legislative body in the most lackadaisical way I have ever witnessed in our history. She comes to the work every day unprepared without any mastery of the Standing Orders or basic understanding of the business or documents before the assembly for consideration. She forgets that she is a facilitator but acts as the boss lady or tyrant over elected legislators. Her crime, however, is total and complete incompetence; and deserving punishment is wallowing in its deep latrine. If she has had mastery of the Standing Orders, she would not have allowed Mr. Sanneh to relitigate a motion that was debated, put to a vote and defeated by members of the National Assembly as stipulated in Section 36 (3) which states:

It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the assembly has already taken a decision during the current session except upon motion to rescind that decision made with the permission of the Speaker and of which notice shall not be required.

After the motion on the framework agreement was defeated which the speaker forced to a vote, even though according to reports she insisted on beating a dead horse, she should not have permitted Mr. Sanneh to speak on it except where a motion to rescind the decision was made in the National Assembly. Mr. Sallah demanding enforcement of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly is a pesky and cumbersome “rigidity in following the proper procedures and rules of the House” that Mr. Kora believes inconvenienced his favored politicians. People who are serious about democracy and constitutional order would agree with me that the disregards the Speaker and the Minister of Finance showed for the laws governing their conducts in the National Assembly is what a “tea party” would look like in the Banana Republic the Bansang elites and their surrogates planned to impose on Gambians.

Let’s assume that Mr. Sallah had violated every rule of the National Assembly, and had “created a heated banter to the point of Sallah should have been escorted out of that August Assembly.” The speaker who displayed no objectivity in presiding over the proceedings, either had no mastery of the Standing Orders or willfully disregard following the rigid “proper procedures and rules of the House.” Whichever one applies, incompetence or disregard for constitutional order, they are both crimes. I reproduce the Rules of Order that the speaker should have followed to “kick out” Mr. Sallah from the National Assembly for the readers to judge if she truly understand her job description, responsibilities and limited powers:

Rules of Order

Point of order

  1. Any Member deviating from these Standing Orders may be immediately called to order by the Speaker or by any other Member rising to a point of order. A member rising to a point of order shall simply direct attention to the point he or she desires to bring to notice and submit the same to the Speaker for decision.

Decision of speaker

  1. When the question of order has been stated, the Member who raises it shall resume his or her seat and no other Member except by leave of the Speaker shall rise till the Speaker has decided the question, after which the Member who was addressing the Assembly at the time the question was raised shall be entitled to proceed with his or her speech, giving effect to the ruling of the speaker.

Responsibility of Speaker for order

  1. The Speaker in the Assembly and the Chairperson in any Committee shall be responsible for the observance of the rules of order in the Assembly and Committee respectively, and his or her decision upon any point of order shall not be open to appeal and shall not be reviewed by the Assembly except on a substantive motion made after notice.

Discipline and suspension of Members

  1. (1) The Speaker or Chairperson, after having called the attention of the Assembly or Committee to the conduct of a Member who persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition either of his or her arguments or of the arguments used by other members in debate, may direct the Member to discontinue his or her speech.

(2) The Speaker or chairperson shall order any Member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdrawn immediately from the Chamber during the remainder of the day’s sitting.

(3) If the direction to withdrawn under paragraph (2) of this Standing Order be not complied with at once or if on any occasion the Speaker or Chairperson deems that his or her power under that paragraph are inadequate, he or she may name such Member or Members in pursuance of paragraph (4) of this Standing Order.

(4) If a Member shows disregard for the authority of the Chair, or abuses the rules of the assembly by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the Assembly, or otherwise, the Speaker shall direct the attention of the Assembly to the incident, mentioning by name the Member concerned. A motion may then be moved upon which the Speaker shall forthwith put the question, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, “That such Member be suspended from the service of the Assembly.” If such an offense shall have been committed in a Committee of the whole assembly, the Chairperson shall forthwith suspend the proceedings of the Committee and report the circumstances to the Assembly: and the Speaker shall, on a motion being moved, thereupon put the same question, without amendment, adjournment or debate, as if the offense had been committed in the Assembly itself.

As the readers can see, Mr. Sallah under the authority of Section 42 of the Standing Order raised a point of order that both Subsections (3) and (4) were being violated by the Speaker and the Minister of Finance. She should have addressed Mr. Sallah’s concerns under her power in Section (44) but denied the gross violations. If Mr. Sallah had “persisted in irrelevance or tedious repetition” in violation of Section 45 (1) and she had directed him “to discontinue his … speech,” then the Speaker would have determined under Section 45 (2) that his conducts were “grossly disorderly to withdrawn immediately from the Chamber”. If the Speaker had followed these steps and Mr. Sallah did “not complied with at once,” then she should have determined under Section 45 (3) that “her power under that paragraph are inadequate” to address the problem, and then resorts by necessity to resolve the matter by invoking the power of the National Assembly for a motion under Section 45 (4) to suspend Mr. Sallah for abusing the “rules of the assembly by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the Assembly” after persisting “in irrelevance or tedious repetition” and had refused “to discontinue his … speech.” Mr. Sallah did not commit any of these infractions for the speaker to have exercised the tedious “rigidity in following the proper procedures and rules of the House.” She needed not to have followed the ‘rigid’ ‘proper procedures’ Mr. Kora has argued, but do as any dictator would, to conveniently improvised her own edicts on the run.

Mr. Kora defended the Speaker’s unconstitutional conducts as thus:

The speaker throwing an MP out is nothing new or exclusive to [Gambia]. It happens in many parliaments around the world. Madam Denton has powers conferred on her to suspend or kick out any MP who disrupts a session or shows unruly behavior in parliament. For a sitting Gambian MP to flout the orders of the Speaker of the House in addition disrespects the orders of the Sergeant at Arms is not only a personal problem but should be seen as a national disgrace that deserves the attention and sober reflection of all genuine Gambians. This is not politics, it is about what example we set for our children. This is about what expectations our leaders set for themselves to be measured against.

First, the speaker does not have any “powers conferred on her to suspend” any member of the National Assembly. The National Assembly, as a body, suspends members through a motion on the floor voted for by the majority of members. Second, Mr. Sallah had not showed any “unruly behavior in parliament”— whatever an ‘unruly behavior’ may mean to Mr. Kora. Mr. Sallah was heard in the audio saying to Mr. Sanneh and the Speaker to behave themselves in accordance with the rules a decorum in Section 36 (4) of the Standing Orders. By adopting the standards espoused by Mr. Kora to never follow with “rigidity…. the proper procedures and rules of the House” why should Mr. Sallah not be at all liberty to disregard any or all the Standing Orders as he pleases just as the Speaker and Mr. Sanneh had arrogated to themselves? Who compartmentalizes the portions from which Mr. Sallah should choose to disregard, our inestimable Doctor Kora? Moreover, the Sergeant at Arms knew someone did not understand the Standing Orders of the National Assembly and that person couldn’t possibly have been Mr. Sallah. The Gambia and the National Assembly would do better with the Sergeant at Arms as the speaker than Ms. Denton-Jack because he’s a better listener, astute observer and knows the fine line between lawful and unlawful commands.

As readers could see for themselves, Mr. Kora’s conclusion that the Speaker has “power to suspend” legislators is not “exclusively unique to The Gambia” is deeply rooted in the ignorance that he has never read a word of the Standing Orders. It put a lie to his claim that he “refrained from drawing daggers in a battle of which he knows very little.” I know Mr. Kora for the intellectual laziness he’s exhibited in his article. All he should have done was to read the Standing Orders as it would not make any logical sense in any democracy for a speaker to single handedly have the “power to suspend” members from the legislative body. One could put out claim and shield it with all the caveats one wants, but if the readers know that there exist counter facts that one should have known and consulted as a primary source of information but never bothered to, then the readers are within their rights to indict that writer for intellectual laziness. Intellectual laziness tantamounts to intellectual dishonesty, and the readers are at liberty to decide if Mr. Kora is guilty as charged.

In responding the critics who condemned the unelected Speaker, Mr. Kora argued that “she is a nominated member through a constitutional process approved by the same voters who elected the sitting MP’s in the House.” It’s disappointing that Mr. Kora who considers himself an enlightened democrat would justified practice where the head of the executive selects and appoints the heads of the two other co-equal branches of government—most especially the legislature. Could we really say that in such a society there exist the separation of powers? The president nominating members into the legislature was a colonial practice supposedly to give voice to Africans in the legislative assemblies where they had no representations. Now, it has turned out to be the vehicle for nepotism, patronage and dispensing rewards and personal favors among the plutocrats in our country. Even though nominating members to our National Assembly is provided for in our constitution, a self-aware speaker would have known that she is in that seat by a historic mistake and being in that position of a speaker ridicules our democracy. Therefore, she should not see herself as the master but rather a facilitator for the legislators to do their work. She should be the last person to pick up a fight with any elected member of the National Assembly.

Mr. Kora argued that Mr. Sallah as an “astute political leader” did not composed himself “when faced with the most difficult and challenging situation” and therefore failed the test of emotional intelligence as a leader. He added that Mr. Sallah “allowing” his “emotions to betray” his “conscience is a sign of poor emotional leadership.” First, I do not know what is in Mr. Sallah’s conscience and state of mind then, and whether he has allowed his emotions to betray them. Second, I would not believe if Mr. Kora claims he knows. And finally, only Mr. Sallah could say that and since he has not publicly stated that, I would like to know how Mr. Kora knew Mr. Sallah betrayed his own conscience?

Let’s examine emotional intelligence in relation to the “fracas” that occurred in the National Assembly. Coleman defines emotional intelligence as “understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.” To be an emotional intelligent person as theorized by Coleman, one has to have Personal Competence: Self Awareness and Self Management; and Social Competence: Social Awareness and Relationship Management. I would not distract the readers by delving into technicality on the subject. However, I would want our learned Mr. Kora to tell us the feeling of the Minister of Finance when his proposal was voted down and whether he managed his emotions when he told the assembly that they will answer to their constituents for throwing away a deal with China; or whether he was managing artfully the relationship with members of the National Assembly when he accused them that they do not want development for The Gambian people? I would also want Mr. Kora to tell us whether the Minister of Finance self-regulated himself when he accused the members for rejecting a bill they did not take a vote on; or whether the speaker self-regulated herself when in a sarcastic tone ridiculed Mr. Sallah ‘you talking about decorum?’ or ‘can you get him out!’ or Sergeant at Arm can you please get the member for Sere Kunda out for the third time!’ I would like Mr. Kora to tell us whether he has any empathy for the feelings of Mr. Sallah who had to put up every day with an incompetent speaker and mediocre cabinet members?

Mr. Sallah displayed both humanity and leadership in his encounter at the National Assembly. He showed that he is human with feelings who would not rely only on rational arguments, but also use emotions to restrain corrupt and incompetent politicians when they hoodwinked and ride on the back of the people. When Gambians see that he’s not a robot but human who is vulnerable to overreaching and excesses of this radical executive arm of government, then they would entrust him with the presidency to fight for them tooth and nail to undertake the system change we need in our country. Nothing sums up our problems since the founding of our country in so simple words as was that frenetic inquiry at the National Assembly: “can you do that”? It was beautiful—the expression of love for humanity. Our struggle from colonialism, to the first republic and to the second republic has always been about limiting the powers of our rulers over us. Can they, as the speaker attempted and Mr. Kora unethically attempted to justify, do whatever they want?

I have proved with empirical evidence that Mr. Kora concocted his account of the event on that historic day in 1997 at the National Assembly with reckless disregard for the truth; and that he was never a supporter of Mr. Sallah who was never kicked out of the National Assembly in 1997. He is a fanatic supporter of the UDP but dubiously projected himself as a supporter of Mr. Sallah whom he now pretended to have fallen out with as his hero because of his lack of leadership. Mr. Kora played diabolical “politics,” set the worst imaginable “example…for our children” and failed in the “expectations” all decent human beings, citizens and parents would “set for themselves to be measured against.” He lied to them as he professes that he doesn’t practice—a quintessential attribute of a classical hypocrite. I challenge Mr. Kora to provide evidence that he’s ever spent a good five minutes one-on-one meeting with Mr. Sallah, or even produce a photo he’s taken with his acclaimed “hero” who is the most accessible of the public figures in The Gambia.

When displaying leadership was consequential to have prevented a civil war in our country, during the political impasse in December 2016, Mr. Sallah paid his dues beyond the call of duty. I will ask Mr. Kora to tell us the whereabouts of his heroes from the Bansang elites and the UDP during that crisis; and whereabouts of his president-elect whom, more than any other human being on earth, had the legitimate claim to the presidency? I would also ask Mr. Kora, when in his lifetime, has he provided emotionally-intelligent leadership in political or public affairs of our country? He showed ingratitude and disrespect to Mr. Sallah, fabricated malicious politically motivated stories to advance an agenda to benefit his patrons, and he did not “refrain from drawing daggers in a battle” he knew nothing about” to malign the good name and impugned on the unimpeachable character of one of the noblest sons of The Gambia. For these transgressions and fabrications, Mr. Sheriff Kora should apologize to the nation, the readers he deceived with his sinful big and patently offensive lies; but most especially, sincerely, to Mr. Halifa Sallah.

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