The Speaker of Gambia’s Parliament Mariam Jack Denton has barred reporters from live streaming the sittings of the West African nation’s parliament, a decision that would face criticism as an assault on the press.
Madam Denton is apparently not happy with the mostly facebook-casting of Parliament debates, which usually result in many legislators facing backlash for the positions they take on matters.
“She is antagonistic to everyone including National Assembly administrative staff. A worker who has been working in the Assembly for more than 20 years is threatening to resign because of her attitude towards them,” said journalist Sulayman Bah.
A source with the Parliament said Denton is not alone in the decision. Mostly lawmakers from the United Democratic Party expressed discontent with the screenshots of their sleeping colleagues that went viral.
An online television network, EyeAfrica TV cameras caught at least three UDP-backed lawmakers sleeping during a session. They were ridiculed online amid allegations that Speaker Denton was being dictatorial regarding parliament procedures.
According to Bah, Denton ordered for mobile coverage of Assembly sittings be stopped and settled that food from the Assembly kitchen not be given to reporters.
Sound receiving points, where reporters record deliberations in Parliament have been deactivated, although this could not be independently verified.
Detention has not responded to the allegations that she is stifling dissent in the parliament, denying perceived opposition legislators, mostly from the PDOIS party the ability to fully participate in parliament discussions.
The PDOIS is among the seven parties that make President Adama Barrow’s coalition government. However, its members have decline taking cabinet positions, choosing to become Members of Parliament.