Saturday, January 28

Speaker, Kiang West MP Clash Over Visa Exemption for Diplomatic Passport Holders

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By Binta Jaiteh

FaBakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of the assembly clashed with the National assembly member for Kiang West Lamin Ceesay over the visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders on the agreement between the Gambian Government and the Government of India.

The exchange of words followed after the presentation of the statement by Serign Modou Njie Minister of Defense on behalf of the Foreign affairs Minister for the assembly to consider and ratify the agreement between the two countries.

“The issue of the diplomatic passport has been misunderstood by the public and the issue of diplomatic passport became a scandal that our diplomatic measures are taken to make sure that passport is issued to people who are not eligible to hold them because that can compromise those who are eligible to have it regarding their access to entry in other countries.

I want a clarification on that because if that doesn’t change, this agreement will not be fruitful and the measures taken to ensure that this doesn’t occur again,” Ceesay augured

He added: “Diplomatic passports are issued for people who are not diplomats or are used by diplomats on errands that are not official and errands that can compromise the integrity of the country.

I think as a country we should look at that. If you look at the world today most of the dangerous weapons and money laundry are done by the diplomats and they are not searched at the airport. This issue should be looked at thoroughly and holistically to ensure that we set our country’s integrity at thoroughly and holistically to make sure that we set the integrity of our country.”

At this junction, Fa Bakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of the assembly seems not to be comfortable with the member’s deliberations and he said that there are many diplomatic passport holders, and a lot of them are decent and gentle.

Honorable Ceesay responded to the Speaker demanding to know why the Speaker responded in that manner. Meanwhile, the Speaker told the member to make comments rather than murmuring.

Quickly,  Suwaibou Touray Member of Wuli East interjected that the Speaker doesn’t have an opinion because this is a debate but the Speaker overruled Touray’s statement insisting that even though it is a debate, inputting certain words on people should be factual.

Hon, Ceesay, further questioned the Speaker as to what he observed during his deliberation. FaBakary Tombong Jatta told the member that his statements are so blank that they impacted unnecessarily innocent people but Ceesay didn’t relent,   submitting the speaker to contradict his submission to the debate.

At this junction, Speaker Jatta warned the Member for Kiang West that no one argues with the Speaker because that is a law, and Parliament sitting it as not a Bantaba where you shout or make noise. But Ceesay angrily told the House that what the Speaker did is illegal and unfair as he is a moderator.

In his contribution, Sainey Jawara, a Member of Lower Saloum pointed out that holding a diplomatic passport doesn’t give you the mandate to behave anyhow because you are representing a country and the country’s integrity should always be protected.

Bakary K Badjie, Member for Foni Bintang Karanai question why visa is imposed on Gambian and he is also looking for a day that Gambians will move freely not only to India but to any part of the world even those with diplomatic and non-diplomatic passport holders without any restriction.

He explained that even without the good relationship that is mentioned between the Gambia and India a visa is still imposed on Gambian citizens, directing the minister to go further to negotiate and see how best they can lift the Visa for Gambians.

“As a nation, we have a long way to go, we are Africans who cannot fly to any part of the world, and it is high time for the world to see us as human beings. We must value ourselves first before anybody else and visas should not be imposed on any African country,”  he said.