By BABOUCARR CEESAY
Members of the Gambian National Assembly have rejected the agreement with America on cooperation against illicit transnational maritime activity
The house rejected the agreement between the two governments saying that it was not based on equal partnership as it only talked about cooperation in Gambian maritime waters.
Francis Liti Mboge, the minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, had tabled the agreement before parliament and urged members ratify it.
He reminded the House about the difficulties of detecting, deterring and suppressing illegal activity at sea especially fisheries offences and drug trafficking.
The agreement mentions the conventional international law that requires concerted international effort to prevent and suppress illicit drug trafficking, which has become rampant in maritime waters off the West African coast.
It also gives regard to the urgent need for international cooperation in suppressing illicit traffic, which is captured in the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The 1988 Convention provides for countries entering into bilateral agreements to countering illicit traffic by sea.
The agreement says such bilateral arrangements should be “based on the principles of international law, respect for the sovereign equality of States and in full respect of the freedom of navigation.”
However, the members of parliament said that the water agreement was in violation of the country’s constitution.
Parlimentary leaders were however divided on the motion. The MP for Banjul Central who doubles as the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Abdoulie Saine, seconded it and urged the members to ratify the document.
But the Majority Leader, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority Leader, vehemently opposed ratification of the agreement until amendments were made. “This is the only agreement that came into force before it‚Äôs ratification by the National Assembly,‚Äù he said, adding that this alone was against the constitution.
Samba Jallow, the Minority Leader, raised doubts about the motive for such an agreement adding that the US Government does not recognise Gambia “as a democracy.”