Former Jammeh Close Aides elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker of NA

Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of The NA

Two former close aides of ex-President Yahya Jammeh have been elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Gambia’s National Assembly.

They are Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader in the fourth legislature, and who served in the legislature for around 20 years, and Seedy Njie who was Minister of Information for not more than 10 days, since he was appointed just before Jammeh was forced to leave the State House in Banjul and go into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

They now occupy the third highest office in the country’s hierarchy of power, according to the country’s Constitution, and this follows their nomination by President Adama Barrow.

Their elevation came after the National Assembly election held last Saturday, when President Barrow’s National People’s Party ((NPP) won a simple majority of the contested seats.

Gambia’s Chief Justice, Justice Hassan B Jallow, based on the Constitution, presided over the election of the Speaker by the new members, and FTJ then presided as Deputy Deputy Njie and all the other new MPs took the prescribed oath of office.

It was the first session of the new Assembly, which got underway in Banjul at 10 am on Thursday 14 April, and they now constitute the sixth legislature of 48 elected and five (5) nominated members – including FTJ and Seedy Njie – in Gambia’s 53-member National Assembly.

Both men were vocal supporters of Jammeh and served under and worked closely with him up to the last minutes of his government and, in fact, gained notoriety for doing everything possible to help Jammeh to continue to cling to power, even though he had been defeated in the presidential election held in December 2016.

The new Speaker, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, in his maiden speech in the National Assembly chamber on Thursday, promised to deliver while assuring Gambians that the legislature will live up to the expectations of the electorate.

He called on members to represent the electorate with dignity and honor, and said parliament remains the embodiment of nation-building, solidarity, and unity; and, must endeavor to be seen as the moral powerhouse and beacon of hope for a better Gambia.

It would be recalled that FTJ in his capacity as Majority Leader of Jammeh’s ruling APRC party steered through the Assembly a bill to declare a state of emergency and to extend Jammeh’s rule for three months, so as to repeat the presidential election which Jammeh insisted must happen.

It took the intervention of ECOWAS governments spurred on by Senegal, which with the support of the African Union and United Nations, mobilized a military force to intervene if need be, whilst mediators led by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf negotiated with Jammeh to peacefully relinquish the seat of power and go into exile, which he did in January 2017.

The military force called Ecomig, with a mandate to enforce Jammeh’s departure if necessary, when Jammeh left the country eventually moved into Banjul, and is still in the country to protect the new president and his government, as well ensure peace and stability in the country.

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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