“He is a PDOIS militant,” Interior Minister Mai Fatty told Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, when his supporters booed the Foroyaa reporter Kebba Jephang, during a heated press conference. Fatty, was heard on a hot mic branding the reporter as a PDOIS militant. Mr. Fatty himself even had to prevail on the opposition supporters present at the news conference to remain calm, even though he has labelled the Foroyaa reporter as a PDOIS militant. “ Please keep quiet,” Interior Minister Fatty tells the opposition supporters. “ He is a PDOIS militant,” he told the UDP leader, who was rudely interrupted by his supporters, who booed the poor reporter.
This followed questions fired by Mr. Jephang to Mr. Darboe to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the opposition split ahead of the April polls. He also asked the GMC leader and Interior Minister Mai Fatty, to justify his recent declaration that the opposition cannot contest the elections as a coalition. Fatty had earlier argued that such a move would have some far legal ramifications on the opposition. Hence, the Foroyaa reporter wanted him to further elaborate on his position on the issue.
Mr. Jephang’s line of questioning doesn’t seems to go down well with the opposition supporters. He was booed and harassed in the presence of Ousainou Darboe, Mai Fatty, and Hamat Bah. There was no formal denunciation coming from the leaders present at the news conference.
Hours after the Foroyaa reporter got attacked by the opposition supporters, Mai Fatty, wrote on his Facebook page: “Attacking anyone or a journalist on account of his or her legitimate views or inquiries duly expressed either privately or publicly, is totally outrageous, reprehensible and utterly unacceptable. Differences of political views are normal in any democracy and are healthy for the polity, and it should be done peacefully. Both the governing and the governed have the right to free speech and let the audience determine. No one has a monopoly over ideas. Journalists are partners, not objects of ridicule or scorn. Freedom of the press is here to stay for good, and our commitment to this inalienable constitutional right is there for all to see and experience.”
Reacting to Mai’s posting, Mam Mustapha Mopu Kah, an aspiring Banjul MP remarked: “Who is Mai Fatty trying to fool here? As Kebba Jeffang Jnr was being assaulted, this man was calling him a boy of PDOIS meaning it was OK to physically abuse him so long as he is an affiliate of a different political entity.”
“Today, the same Mai is on the papers crying crocodile tears and condemning the supporters he was encouraging to beat the innocent young man. What a shame. Am I the only one who thinks Mai should be held to account for his criminal act so that public officials will learn to be responsible in their conduct?,” Kah quarried.
Earlier on, Lawyer Darboe repudiated the conduct of his unruly supporters by telling them that they should not censor the Foroyaa reporter. “ I urge the audience to extend respect to people to ask questions. After all, they are here to clarify issues. He is not going to ask questions you want him to ask. He will ask questions that he wants to ask. He can make a follow up with any answer that he is not satisfied with,” said Mr. Darboe.
The UDP leader also took the Foroyaa reporter to task about an alleged misrepresentation of reportage recently contained in the opposition PDOIS newspaper.
“So Mr. Jephang, what you reported clearly shows that Mr. Sallah and his group clearly favored independent candidate and not tactical alliance candidate. We favored tactical alliance candidate and not independent candidate. That’s the difference,” he said.
Darboe contends that the proposal advanced by Halifa and co is not feeble, effective, buyable and legally tenable, warning that if they are not careful the 2006, debacle will live to hunt Sallah and co again, which he says had cost parties a political havoc.
“Don’t you people rationalize,” Darboe posited adding that the idea of sponsoring independent candidates was legally flawed and untenable. He said parties should sponsor their own candidates in tandem with a tactical alliance to occupy the house in full force.