Gambian tax authorities have upheld on Thursday a decision to shut down the Daily Observer newspaper for two weeks. Their meeting with press union officials ended without any major deal.

“We couldn’t agree on anything with Gambia Press Union (GPU),” Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) Commisionner General Yankuba Darboe told this reporter.

Over these past years, the leading pro-government Gambian newspaper has been used as a propaganda tool by former dictator Jammeh. The advent of the new regime provides an opportunity for the newspaper with a more ‘independent’ news coverage. However, Gambia govt decision to freeze Yahya Jammeh’s assets and millions of dalasi of unpaid taxes continue to haunt the management and staff of the company.

GRA boss said press union officials were just making an appeal on behalf of Daily Observer. “We told them the conditions that are involved, and they respect our position. We maintain the temporary closure,” Darboe added..

The company publishing Daily Observer has over 100 workers with a good number of freelancers.

GRA Commissionner General said after the 2-week period, they are going to envisage what to do next. “Daily Observer is owing GRA 17 millions dalasi.”

Daily Observer Managing Director Pa Modou Mbowe, who spoke to this reporter, decried the sudden decision taken by the country’s tax authorities, saying the move is denying the company income generated by advertisements.

However, the move taken by GRA continue to attract attention, and generate headlines in and beyond the country’s borders.

Alhaji Yorro Jallow, a former editor of The  Independent newspaper, which was closed down by Yahya Jammeh, described the move as “political miscalculation and affront to press freedom.”

Jallow said it would be unimaginable for any Gambian government officials to lawlessly burn or close newspaper offices or radio station. “The tax offices in this contemporary era serves other purposes such as to shut down media house under the guise of enforcing the law or reported failures to pay tax.”

Written by Abdoulie JOHN

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