By Lamin Jahateh
Parliament said the deal is “one-sided and does not favour” the tiny West African country.
The document of the agreement stated that “the purpose of the cooperation is to enable the Gambian and United States governments to further effectively suppress, combat and respond to illicit transnational maritime activity, including without limitation trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”.
The motion for the agreement was moved by the Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Laiti Mboge, for the National Assembly to consider and ratify.
However, both sides of the Assembly rejected the motion saying “the document of the agreement is one-sided and does not favour The Gambia.”
Majority leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta said international treaties or agreements are usually concluded on the principle of international law of respect for sovereignty and equality of states.
In this particular agreement, he claimed, there is no equality between The Gambia Government and the US Government.
“To that extend, I opposed the ratification of this agreement,” he said. “The document should be sent for possible amendment before ratification.”
He noted that most of the articles of the agreement are one-sided. He said
one of such articles is Article 6 which, when the agreement is adopted, will give the American government the right to conduct operations to suppress illicit transnational maritime activity in Gambia’s internal waters or territorial sea.
He pointed out that there is no such other article in the agreement that gives The Gambia similar rights to conduct such operations in the American waters.
Minority leader Samba Jallow said “the document is controversial so it should be rejected.”
The member for Illiasa Constituency also argued that most of the articles in the agreement are not in favour of the people of The Gambia, calling for its rejection.
At the end of the debate, during which not even a single member expressed support for the ratification and adoption of the agreement, the cooperation agreement was rejected by the National Assembly Members.
The Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Laiti Mboge, said the Government will certainly revisit some of the controversial clauses in the agreement, as highlighted by the Members, and take it from there.