Parliamentarians approve 45 days instead of Gov’t’s proposed 90 days State of Public Emergency extension

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul The Gambia: Gambian parliamentarians have adopted a motion on Friday, for the extension of the seven days presidential decree of a state of public emergency to a period of 45 days, effective 3rd April instead of government’s 90 days proposal.

The first pronouncement by the president was necessitated to avoid the spread of the global health-threatening disease; coronavirus in the country. Law makers say reducing the 90 days to 45 will allow the executive to put in regulations as measures to control the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The government’s proposal was tabled before the deputies on Thursday but it was referred to the standing committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters who suggested for 45 days instead of 90.

The lawmakers approved the Standing Committee’s report and suggestion for a 45 days extension and recommended to the government to come up with financial compensatory mechanisms in order to reduce the hardship imposed by the above regulations.

Deputy Chairperson of the standing committee and member for Wuli West, Suwaibou Touray said there have been divergent opinions among members of the committee for the extension to 90 days period, adding that the committee finally agreed to recommend for 45 days instead of the motion brought in by the Justice minister.

He said the Justice Minister’s argument was based on the fact that the 90 days period will avoid regrouping and will enable the government to prepare for a long-term plan.

Minority leader and member for Niamina Dankunku, Samba Jallow said they have been given a difficult decision to make, saying to him 90 days is not the problem but the regulation that will be put in place for the state to govern the country within the period of 90 days.

Health minister, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, minister of health said the reason for the extension of the state of public emergency is to avoid containment of the virus.

He added that the much-talked about government D500 million aid for COVID-19 is still with the ministry of Finance, and not yet disbursed to his ministry.

“Before the D500 million issue came up, we made a request of D12m to buy materials and equipment such as sanitizers and sensitization,” he said but finance Minister Mamburay Njie said the D500 million fund is in the custody of his ministry, saying it is meant for the ministry of health.

Saikouba Jarju, member for Busumbala reinforced the committee’s recommendation in respect to funding for COVID-19 financial aid.

He suggested for the creation of a special committee that will mobilize fund and coordinate all donated fund meant to fight the virus. He believes that that will minimize any potential corruption or misappropriation of funds.

Attorney General and Justice Minister, Abubacarr M Tambedou told lawmakers that by seeking for extension of the public emergency, government is not proposing a lock-down but a fight to prevent COVID-19 pandemic from spreading in the country.

“We are calling for the extension of the state of emergency so that government can put in place restrictions in the form of regulations that can provide protection to the people of The Gambia from COVID-19 pandemic. Three of the four regulations presented to the parliament are to restrict movement and prevent infection,” he said.

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