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HomeBreaking NewsGAMBIA: MASS PROTEST AGAINST THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SALARIES AND PENSIONS BILL 2024

GAMBIA: MASS PROTEST AGAINST THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SALARIES AND PENSIONS BILL 2024

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At the National Assembly’s entrance earlier today, hundreds of primarily youthful protesters convened to express their opposition to the National Assembly Members Salaries and Pension Bill 2024 and the Judicial Officers Remuneration and Other Entitlement Bills.

The youth group “Concerned Citizens” lead the demonstration, which featured placards with messages such as “Consider the plight of teachers,” “No to self-enrichment,” and “Civil servants are hungry.

Speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, Lamin Manneh underscored that the National Assembly’s actions are perceived as unconstitutional. He referred to the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, which requires all members to regard themselves as servants of the people and refrain from engaging in actions that improperly enrich themselves. Manneh declared, “We, as citizens and taxpayers, who are entitled to be served by members of the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution, are categorically opposed to these proposed bills that are designed to benefit and enrich the members of parliament and the judiciary at the expense of the general public.

The high cost of living has resulted in the severe economic conditions that many Gambians, particularly civil servants and private sector employees, are forced to endure in order to provide for their families. Manneh underscored this issue. He criticised the bills’ timing, pointing out that they are introduced at a time when the majority of Gambians are dealing with destitution, unemployment, and the increasing cost of living.

Kemesseng Sanneh, an additional protester, reiterated these sentiments, contending that the bill prioritises personal interests over the nation’s well-being. He underscored the Constitution’s mandate for the National Assembly to advance the social welfare of its constituents.

The protesters were addressed by Honourable Omar Jammeh, National Assembly Member for Janjanbureh Constituency, who reiterated his opposition to any measure that does not benefit the electorate. “I am not in parliament to represent myself, but to represent my people. Consequently, I will not compromise on any matter that is not in the best interest of the electorates,” he declared.

The Concerned Citizens group issued a number of demands, including the urgent withdrawal of the proposed bills. They advocated for a fair and equitable compensation system for all public employees, ensuring that salaries and benefits are in accordance with the economic conditions of the country to prevent substantial disparities. Additionally, they exhorted the government to prioritise critical sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, security, healthcare, and education.

Furthermore, the protestors requested mechanisms to ensure that National Assembly members are held accountable for their actions, thereby ensuring that they act in the best interests of their constituents. They promoted policies that mitigate income inequality and advance social justice.

If their demands are not met, the group has threatened to take additional action, stating, “We will continue to protest against these bills until our voices are heard and respected, and we will endeavour to organise a nationwide protest.”

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