By: Kebba Ansu Manneh
Impeccable sources close to the Kuntaur Area Council have informed The Alkamba Times that the designed agenda for the next General Council meeting slated for Tuesday, 30th January 2024, doesn’t include the prolonged absence of Chairman Saihou Jawara.
Chairman Saihou Jawara, who left the shores of the country in September last year, has failed to return home after attending the conference of the Mayor in the United States together with his Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Momodou Sambou, from 23rd September to 4th October 2023.
Chairman Jawara has insisted that his overstay in the US has been prompted by his desire to engage a series of investors to attract them to invest in The Gambia’s poorest region, CRR North. He affirms that by the end of January 2024, he will be back with projects that will change the lives and livelihoods of his people.
However, his overstay has sparked a general debate among the region’s electorates, many have called on the authorities to conduct a by-election to fill the void left behind by the never-returning Chairman Saihou Jawara.
“Yes, we are having the General Council Meeting on Tuesday, 30th January 2024, but the issues surrounding Chairman Jawara are not part of the agenda. The agenda in our (Councilors) hands included the review of the last General Council Meeting, a Presentation by the Finance Committee, a Presentation by the Development Committee, a Presentation on Draft Training Committees, and a Presentation on Vehicles by the CEO. These are the items on the agenda for the Tuesday General Council Meeting,” said Momodou Barry, Councilor, Kuntaur Ward.
He added: “The issue of Chairman Jawara is not on the agenda anymore. General Council will not discuss it because it is not on our agenda.”
According to him, the run-away Chairman had earlier written to the Council seeking an extension of his stay in the US, but the General Council has rejected the request and has since called for his return to the country, adding that the continuous absence of the Chairman has been derailing the works and activities of the Council and by far the people of the region.
When asked whether it’s time for a by-election to fill the void left behind, the Kuntaur Ward Councilor noted that a by-election is needed in the region. Still, the Council awaits the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) decision.
Our reporter also contacted Momodou Gidda Jallow, an official of the Local Government Service Commission, to clarify the authority’s position of Chairman SaihouJawara’s long absence.
“The issue of elected officials is not part of our mandate. The Local Government Service Commission only deals with the Council’s staff, not the elected officials. This is why we cannot take any position on the matter,” Momodou Gidda Jallow told TAT.
However, scores of residents in the Central River Region North who spoke with TAT have all expressed their disappointment with the Chairman for overstaying in the US. The region’s people continue to pay the price, suggesting that the Independent Electoral Commission should now set a date for a by-election in the area as hopes of the Chairman’s return are dashed.
They argued that Chairman Jawara has stayed beyond the fourteen (14) days approved by the Council. His request for an extension of stay has also been rejected, saying that the only solution for the region is to hold a by-election to replace Chairman Jawara for the development of the area and its people.
TAT has made many attempts to talk to Chairman Jawara in the US, but they have not made any progress.