Hundreds of Young Gambians Protest Against Judicial Officers Bill & NA Remuneration Bills

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Protesters gathered at the National Assembly building in Banjul.

By: Alieu Ceesay

Despite unfavorable weather conditions and a heavy downpour, hundreds of young Gambians under the leadership of Concerned Gambians—a youth-led organization—protested earlier today against the unpopular Judiciary Officers Bill and National Assembly Remuneration Bill 2024. The protest has drawn people from all walks of life, including civil servants, activists, and members of civil society.

The protest, which took the form of a procession from Bond Road Junction to the first gate of the National Assembly, was staged under the banner “Justice for the Police, Civil Servants, and Teachers,” calling for fairness and equity among all government sectors.

Protesters in their hundreds were seen brandishing placards with different wordings, such as “Youths Are Not Happy” and “You Told Us You Would Make Us Batter, But Instead Bitter.” The most popular chanted slogan was “Stop stealing” from limited state resources, primarily addressed to the National Assembly Members (NAMs) and the government’s executive organ.

Speaking to TAT at the protest grounds in Banjul, Lamin Bojang, a native of Pirang in Kombo East, expressed his frustration and dismay at the Gambia government and the National Assembly.

“The Gambia Government and the National Assembly have failed us (Gambians). A lot of promises were made, but nothing is in action. There is no meaningful security sector reform or new constitution in place; nothing significant at all. We, the Gambians, must take steps against all these abnormalities,” he said.

One keen protester told this medium that “the government should help to improve the living conditions of Gambian citizens and ensure equal payment for all civil servants without discrimination.”

A renowned activist and court reporter, Kexx Sanneh, who also participated in the protest, urged the government to create avenues for youth employment and work on reducing the country’s overbearing debt burden. He also outlined the next appropriate step of the movement if the government fails to adhere to the demands stipulated in the petition submitted to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta.

“If they do not listen to us, we are going to court. We have the provision; this bill is not in the national interest,” he stated with great concern.

Lamin Manneh, the movement’s secretary general, has hinted that if their demands are not met, they are determined to organize a bigger protest that will cover the country.

He added: The government should prioritize all civil servants and introduce salaries and pensions that will ensure nurses, teachers, security officers, and every other government worker have better and equitable salaries. This also involves private sector employees.”

In their petition letter, the protest organisers have stated an eight-point demand to the authorities, which includes the withdrawal of the bill, fair compensation for all public servants, equitable allocation of national resources, accountability for National Assembly members, promotion of social justice, engagement of electorates by National Assembly members before passing critical bills, and the introduction of a new pay scale by the government.

It is worthwhile to remind readers that several protest requests before this one were sought but denied by the Office of the Inspector General of Police. It seems all preceding protest permit seekers were dissatisfied with one thing or the other about this government and its institutions and how they are running and managing the affairs of the state.

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