President  Barrow Tells Religious Leaders to Preach Peace andRespect the Laws of the Country

President  Barrow Tells Religious Leaders to Preach Peace andRespect the Laws of the Country

State House, Banjul, 11th April 2024: The President of the Republic, H.E Adama Barrow, expressed delight in receiving the elders and Religious Leaders, dubbed ‘Meeting with Banjul Muslim Elders led by Chairman Alhajie Momodou Taal.

The annual Eid-ul-Fitr Meeting with Banjul Elders is a practice initiated during the colonial days to bring issues of concern to the leadership. President Barrow thanked the Banjul Elders for expanding the annual event to include representatives of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, Ahmadiya Jamaat and religious sects.

He urged his guests and all Gambians to maintain the peace in the country, emphasising the obligation of all citizens to live and work hard for the country.

President Barrow called on Muslim Preachers to understand that even though The Gambia is 95% Muslim, the Constitution and other laws of the land govern the country, and not Sharia Law. “There are Laws that may not favour everyone but must be respected by all for peace to reign.” He emphasised.

Responding to various issues raised by the speakers, including the state of the traffic on the Bertil Harding Highway, the President urged all road users to be patient as work progresses within the Greater Banjul Area.

Relatedly, the President cautioned people doing negative propaganda about “Operation Clear the Roads” – regarding hawkers who illegally occupy the roads. He pointed out that a few people wrongly put the clearing of the streets as a fight against people with low incomes trying to make a living. President Barrow added that people should be aware of the risks of accidents posed by such illegal occupants on roadsides. “I will stand by what is for the greater good, and I want to emphasise that the ‘operation clear the roads’ is here to stay.” President Barrow asserted.

The Gambian leader encouraged all to keep their environment clean, especially as The Gambia prepares to host the 57 countries of the Muslim Ummah during the 15th OIC Summit.

On the electricity issue, the President maintained his pledge that there would be universal access to electricity countrywide, as work on electricity was in high gear. He underscored the importance of infrastructure as it relates to different aspects of development, including electricity, roads, hospitals, and infrastructures.

On independent funding of development projects, the President emphasised digitalising the tax system to enhance revenue collection. He clarified that the Government has not increased taxes; instead, it ensures leakages are blocked and the businesses pay the correct taxes.

To address the price hikes on imported food items, particularly rice, the President urged Gambians to take agriculture more seriously to cater to the demand for rice. Already, the Government is supporting Gambian investors, including the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, in growing rice for commercial purposes. “We expect that if we grow more rice locally, we would not complain about the price of imported rice.”

The Chairman of the occasion. Alhajie Momodou Senghore, on behalf of Banjulians, commended the Government for improvements in electricity, saying, “You cannot make a judgement on NAWEC based only on the urban area only. Nationwide, there is verse improvement in electricity access.” He also thanked the Police for their efforts in controlling crime. Mr Senghore, however, raised concerns about the state of the traffic while the road works are ongoing and the phenomenon of abled-bodied women and their children begging on the streets and in heavy traffic.

The President of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, Sheikh Essa Darboe, called for the Government to extend its dialogue initiative to religious leaders. Speaking earlier, he appealed for people to respect religious leaders.

Other speakers included Alhajie Ebrima Jagana and Amir of the Ahmadiya Jamaat, Baba Trawalleh.

The Minister for Religious Affairs, Honourable Hamat Bah, urged Preachers to promote peace and urged Gambians to take up agriculture to address the price hikes on imported commodities such as rice. He also highlighted that the Gambian youth want to avoid taking up unskilled jobs, citing the dominance of non-Gambian youths in the construction and other sectors.

Imam Ratib of Banjul, Alajie Alieu Mass Kah, led the prayers, and Bilal, Bai Sait Secka, delivered the vote of thanks. On behalf of the Sherrif Association, the Gambia Chapter presented a gift to President Barrow and re-echoed the congratulation earlier speakers extended to him for winning the Africa Peace Promoter Prize 2024.

The Vice President, H.E Muhammed B.S Jallow, the Cabinet Ministers, Senior Government Officials and other dignitaries attended the occasion to enhance and promote dialogue on issues of concern to citizens and the Government.

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