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Here is Deputy Ambassador Vincent Mendy’s marathon letter on Ambassador Hydra’s unethical activities in Cuba
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Here is Deputy Ambassador Vincent Mendy’s marathon letter on Ambassador Hydra’s unethical activities in Cuba

Dear Permanent Secretary,

Report on the Fracas that happened at The Gambia Embassy in Havana, Cuba, between Myself (DHM) and Ambassador Sheikh Tijan Hydara On 24th January 2024

I hope this letter/report finds you well. It is with deep pain and regret that I write this report to provide my version on the above-captioned incident. In doing so I am compelled to mention things that I held in confidence for a long time and never intended to make public knowledge for the rest of my life. Sometimes one is compelled by circumstances to put on record things that may be unsavory and could have negative consequences when they come to the public domain. 

Below is a chronological brief on the evolution and combination of circumstances that culminated in my physical confrontation with the Ambassador on Wednesday, 24th of January 2024.

I have been very patient in the office for a long time despite all the humiliation that I have suffered at the hands of the Ambassador since he arrived in Cuba in January 2023. 

Firstly, immediately after he presented his letters of credence and reported to the office, he verbally requested me to dismiss all the staff that were old and bring in younger girls. I responded that it is too early for us to start dismissing staff because we are both new in the office and it is not decorum to dismiss people just because they are advanced in age. Since his intention to dismiss the staff he identified as old failed, he proceeded to make the embassy hell for everyone, especially those he wanted to dismiss. Despite their age and the respect they give him, he will insult them at every available opportunity, causing them unnecessary stress and problems. 

When a person is constantly devalued in a team because of their religious beliefs and humiliated because of their faith, this will often trigger defensive instincts on the part of the victim, with negative consequences for the perpetrator. This also makes it very difficult to work in harmony as a team and applies to me because I am a Christian. The Ambassador treats me like a thrash because of my religion. He does not treat me like a normal human being. To mention a few of the instances, during the last Ramadan, when the Embassy of Saudi Arabia sent dates to the embassy, he called us to his office, distributed the dates among all the staff, and left me out. One member of staff had to call his attention to the fact that I am also a member of staff and part of the team and deserve to be given some of the present. I just sat down meekly, looking at him.

In another incident, after the demise of our Bilingual Secretary, I suffered another humiliation during the interview for a replacement candidate for the position. He said very nasty things to me in the presence of the interviewee because of my religion and I sat quietly while he continued to ridicule my religion. At some point, I had to call his attention to stop talking about religion so we could proceed with the interview, but he refused and said that what he and the interviewee, a new convert from Christianity to Islam, are talking about is very important. I wonder when has it become a crime for a Gambian Christian to work with his Gambian Muslim brothers in the same office? Can't a Christian work in the same office with his Muslim brothers without his religion being regularly insulted? Or has it become a crime to be a Christian? 

Things got worse at Tobaski when he instructed the Accountant to buy Rams for his family in The Gambia from Embassy funds for the celebration of the feast. When I refused the instruction, the humiliation and embarrassment dished out to me increased dramatically.

Esteemed Permanent Secretary, it is hard to imagine, but I am of the impression that the Ambassador is always intoxicated when he comes to office. He reeks of alcohol every day and this must be the cause of his erratic behavior in the office. He regularly reports to work late at 2 or 3 pm every day only to rain terror and insults on everyone, especially the local staff, and soon after goes back home. 

It is no more a secret to everyone he crosses paths with in Havana, including members of the Diplomatic Corps, that he is a drunkard and always intoxicated.

Esteemed Permanent Secretary, you have worked in the foreign mission for a long time and know how things work. Unfortunately for us, since he assumed office, it is only the Ambassador that attends functions, activities, or meetings when the Embassy is invited. He does not delegate any staff at the Embassy and equally does not give reports or updates to us on any development or relations he is working on for the embassy or the country. Any function or meeting he cannot attend will remain unattended as he will not send a representative from the embassy. He made it categorically clear to us that he is a member of the opposition and it is his personal political agenda that he is selling, therefore he will not send the staff to meetings to sell the agenda of the country which is different from his. Whenever I raise issues, he always responds that he is the Ambassador and whatever he says is what will happen. Despite all these transgressions, I have never raised my voice against him.

During the G77+ China Meeting, he assigned us (Myself, and the two First Secretaries) to draft a statement for the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, which we did. When we presented the draft to him, he shouted at us and called the draft rubbish in the presence of the local staff. As if the shouting in the office was not enough, he called me on the telephone again, on a Saturday, and told me what we wrote was rubbish and useless because I didn't know anything and I couldn't do my job. When I tried to respond, he threatened that he was recording me. He did all this just to come back the following Monday to say the speech was good and it was the same speech that was handed to the Honorable Minister.

During the afore-mentioned summit, we had delegates from The Gambia, and we all agreed that we should provide them accommodation at our various residences. That apart, he requested that we use Embassy funds to provide their feeding which I told him categorically was not possible because we do not have a budget line for that. That also generated a very big problem. I then reminded him that we (myself and him) had reviewed the budget together and the money in the relevant budget line he wanted charged was already exhausted by him. Finally, we agreed that we would provide their feeding out of our pockets. To my surprise after the summit, he wrote a request saying that he should be refunded for the food and everything that was eaten by the Permanent Secretary 1 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Head of Mission in New York, USA, who stayed in his residence during the summit. He made it a big issue until he was asked to write what the payment was for and authorize the payment. It was only after that that he was refunded USD 1000.

It is also noteworthy that despite being the Deputy Head of Mission he deliberately omitted my name from the program that he prepared for the Gambian Delegates, a copy of which was availed to you. Although my name was not included, I still participated fully in the program to ensure there were no hitches. To him, I am just in the Embassy but I am nothing and I should not be treated like a human by any staff.

Also, a few months after he arrived in Cuba, he impregnated the cook in his residence by the name of Fatou Jallow, one of the staff that he brought along to Cuba and according to him, she is a niece to one of his wives. He took the girl to a local clinic with the help of a local staff in the residence and aborted the pregnancy. The girl developed some post-abortion infection and was taken to a clinic for treatment. 

While I was on a short vacation in April 2023, he forced the Financial Attach√© and First Secretary Mr. Lamin Jammeh to pay 80% of the bill from the Embassy funds, which she is not entitled to. Upon returning, I wrote to the Permanent Secretary's office for clarification because he used a phrase in the Foreign Service Regulations to force them to pay. 

Unfortunately, I never received a response from the Ministry. On the day of the demise of our Bilingual Secretary, we all went to her house to extend our condolences. When we returned to the office, he convened an emergency meeting. During the meeting, he said I signed an agreement with the deceased so she could protect me and I will also protect her but now she is dead. He said when he came the lady was so helpful to him but I talked to her and she hated him at the end and was sabotaging him. He said anyone who fights him will see the result. Today the lady is dead because she hated him. Despite all this, I never uttered a word. I just sat quietly to avoid problems with him.

 It has now come to a point that he doesn't want to see any staff near me. Anyone who comes near me will be dismissed, as he has demonstrated. All he fears is that they will tell me what is happening in the residence.

On Monday, 22nd of January 2024, I came to the office but was not feeling well and therefore went to the hospital and later went home. He reached the office at 3 pm and did not find me. He then asked the staff to move the IT server downstairs so that we could have room for the new staff Pa Touray Bajinka. He asked Daisy, a local staff, to go and look for a table and chair for Mr. Bajinka the next morning. 

On Tuesday morning when I arrived in the office, I was informed of the situation. I proceeded with First Secretary Lamin Jammeh to inspect the IT room to look at the possibilities of moving the server downstairs and we all agreed that it would be too expensive and that if the internet server is moved downstairs, upstairs will not have internet access. Moreover, the IFMIS cable will also require the Department of Treasury Staff to come to Cuba to move it. 

I told him I would talk to the Ambassador about this when he comes. So, we suspended the buying of a table until we finalize the issue. There are also tables and chairs in the office which Mr. Bajinka can occupy and we did not need to buy any. She therefore did not need to go and look for a table and chair. We just needed to do some little readjustments upstairs and everyone will be accommodated. When he came at 3 pm he immediately called Daisy and started shouting at her. I went to his office and told him that I had asked her not to go because we needed to look at the issue of moving the server again. I then explained to him that if we move the server, we will pay a lot of money and we will also need to request for Treasury to send us IFMIS experts to move the IFMIS cables downstairs. And if you move the server down, upstairs will not have internet and we will have to buy new routers which may not even have good signals. I said the process alone will take almost six months to execute because we will have to do rewiring also. I said we could just do some little adjustments and everybody would be accommodated without us buying any table and chair. This adjustment was done and Mr. Bajinka got his office with a chair and a table. 

While I was still in his office, he said we did not respect him because even President Barrow does not go to people's offices to greet them. It is the people that go to greet him. Now we have to be going to greet him anytime he comes because he is the Ambassador.

To my surprise, the Ambassador was still very angry that Daisy did not go to look for the table and chair because I said it was not necessary. 

On Wednesday, myself, Mr Bajinka, and Daisy went to look at a house that was identified for Mr. Bajinka by Daisy after I assigned her to look for a house for him. On our way back Daisy received a call and was told that there was a letter for her from the Ambassador. She immediately started crying. We tried to console her and asked that she wait until she saw the content of the letter. 

When we reached the office, she collected the letter and it was a dismissal letter. I then took the letter from her and went to the Ambassador's office and begged him to cancel the dismissal because I was the one who told her there was no need I sent her to the hospital and also assigned her to look for a house for Mr Bajinka. He said housing is not important and the most important thing was to get him a place to sit in the office. He refused and said that he had already made his decision and that it was final, but luckily other staff also came and begged him and he later agreed.

 On Thursday, I went with Daisy to help Mr. Bajinka get the rest of the things he needed to settle down and headed back to the office leaving Mr. Bajinka at his new apartment. When the ambassador arrived at 3pm he came to my office with Lamin Jammeh and asked us to go to his office. When we reached his office, he asked me to go give Daisy her dismissal letter again because he had made his decision and it was final. He also said that he was going to dismiss Henrique, the utility car driver. I then asked him the reason and he said "I will not tell you, if you are doing anything in this office you have to get permission from me but if I am doing something, I will never tell you". I said okay then do it and we shall see because yesterday you dismissed Daisy because of me and today you are dismissing Henrique because of me. I left his office and went back to my office to avoid confrontation with him. I then decided to call Henrique and ask him to come to my office but he was on the way coming back with Mr.Bajinka from his new apartment. I waited for some time but did not see Henrique and I went down the road to look for him to collect the car key from him but when I called him again, he said he was at the Ambassador's office and the Ambassador had collected the key. So, I went to the Ambassador's office to take the key. When I entered, I found Mr. Bajinka, Mr. Lamin Jammeh, and Mr. Modou Nying all sitting in his office, and as they saw me enter and walk towards the Ambassador to ask for the key,  they all got up and held me back to the door. He (Ambassador) got up from his chair and ran towards me determined to confront me physically. I was already held by these three people. At that moment I did not know what to do because I realized that he was drunk and if |I did not defend myself, I would get hurt. He then threw the first blow but I managed to dodge it and free myself from the grip of the three people who held me, and then I fought back. They were able to separate us and took me out. At exactly four o'clock, I went back to his office to tell him to give me the key but these three people did not let me speak. Then I remembered that I had a spare key to the car which I subsequently used to go home with the car.

As the DHM most of the complaints about him following people's wives, especially the wives of top government officials both at the bank and hospital have been reported to me. Whenever I received such complaints I had no option but to stand by him because he is my Ambassador.

I  am sure you will agree with me that it is very difficult and nearly impossible to live or work with a person who exhibits the character traits, behaviors, and habits of a chronic drunkard, a womanizer, and a man who follows people's wives, a man that does not respect people and a man that does not respect other religions. These are the exact habits and behaviors of my ambassador.

In conclusion, I pray that you assign an investigation panel to look into the things I have mentioned in this report objectively. Whilst thanking you for your usual consideration, I remain, 

Yours Sincerely

 Vincent Mendy

Deputy Head of Mission Gambia Embassy Havana, Cuba

Cc: Secretary General &Head of Civil Service Office of The President Chief of Staff Office of The President

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