As the Kanifing Municipality mayoral race heats up, independent candidate Bakary Badjie has hit out at the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) flag bearer of taking donations from an Australian oil company FAR Limited, .
“It is UDP candidate who is being financed by FAR Ltd,” Bakary Badjie told reporters in an effort to clear air over reports indicating that some candidates are backed by international corporate entities.
Badjie’s statement comes on the heels of mounting controversy surrounding allegations of interference with Gambian politics by FAR Limited. The oil company has exploration rights on two Gambian offshore blocks (A2 & A5), and is expected to start drilling late this year. Media reports have it that FAR Limited partner with Talib A. Bensouda’s Foundation, GamSense to donate 100 trash bins to 10 community markets in the Greater Banjul Area. The move is seen by Bensouda’s opponents as a ‘disguised way’ of funding his electoral campaign.
Badjie further stated that it is wrong for international businesses to involve in domestic politics.
“It simply means that we are mortgaging our municipality to people who are only interested in making money, and not necessarily taking care of the people,” he voiced out.
In a similar vein, lawyer Assan Martin, another independent candidates vying for KMC mayorship, expressed his disapproval of FAR Ltd’s alleged interference with Gambian politics.
“We will not allow Gambian democracy to be tainted. We’ll not compromise any inch,” he added.
Martin said they are ready to expose any institution that is involved in that.
Another mayoral hopeful, Bubacarr Senghore added his voice to the chorus of recriminationssaid oil companies have better place to put their money than to involve in domestic politics.
“They should not interfere with Gambians. We need a level playing field,” he pointed out.
Responding to the criticisms, Talib Bensouda said admitted that his foundation, GamSense, has received donations from ‘a good number companies’.
“GamSense is a one-year old institution, and I have been running it before I entered politics. So I don’t think there is a conflict there,” he said.
Bensouda went on to say that that GamSense projects with Far Limited were going on well before he won the UDP primaries.
“These are allegations. They are not facts. The donations were not about my campaign. They were about the Gambian people and the communities.”
Written by Abdoulie JOHN