Fellow Gambians, this is headline story is coming from the US government! This is from a United States diplomatic cable. So, keep reading.

Since December 1st 2016 when Gambians united to end 22 years of dictatorship, there has been many complaints about tribalism, nepotism and regionalism in the country. Most of this is blamed on Ousainou Darboe and the way he is running the government with Barrow almost reduced to a spectator. Evidently, we are not the only ones who can see through Ousainou Darboe’s tactics. Western diplomats made this observation and reported it to their government. Is this why we have not seen any pledge of support from the U.S government? Well, think about it. They take the word of their people on the ground very seriously. If that is the case, what can we do?

Our opportunity to change the bad image of the country created by the issue of tribalism, blatant violations of the constitution etc. is in the National Assembly elections tomorrow. Vote for strong institutions. Do not allow what I call Usainou Darboe’s Party (UDP) to have a majority in the Assembly. If they do, their behavior will be worse than what you are seeing now. If they have a majority, they will not listen to anybody and they will not talk to anybody and in effect we will be back to a dictatorship. Do not think of a dictator only as a person with a gun and a killing squad. What we have seen in the Gambia in the issue of the vice president is dictatorship. A government blatantly refusing to appointment a vice president for selfish reasons and refusing to listen after many people have voiced their concerns about the potential dangers of the government decision is nothing but dictatorship.

Fellow Gambians, if you allow UDP to have a majority in the national Assembly, you will regret it. This is because you would have allowed Ousainou Darboe to prove his belief that he could have won Jammeh and should be president, not Barrow. You would have allowed Ousainou Darboe to prove that you can run along tribal lines and still win. Gambia is too diverse for that. And you would have allowed him to prove that his party is the majority party which we all know is not true. You take out PPP and the other parties that came together in 1996 and there won’t be any UDP. And more importantly, if Ousainou Darboe wins he is going to make it known to Barrow that he should have been the president. If you think Barrow is weak and that Ousainou Darboe is the “co-president” wait until you give him the majority in the Assembly.  Don’t do it!! Vote for progress, vote for strong institutions, vote for the separation of powers. Vote for lasting democracy. We all know what we went through in the past 22 years. Frankly, the past 52 years since Independence. Most of it can be attributed to weak or non-existent institutions. We all know what strong institutions can do.

As people from a Muslim-Majority country and as people who would be described as minorities in the U.S, we have been cheering when we heard that the US president’s travel ban was halted by a federal judge. We were also happy to hear that the health care bill which was going affect low income people and minorities was defeated in Congress. We are also very hopeful when we hear that Mr. Trump may be impeached.  What made all this happen? Strong institutions!

Halting the travel ban happened because there is an independent judiciary in the US. The health care bill was defeated because lawmakers are independent of the president and he cannot tell them what to do. Also, the people of the US are informed and can exercise their rights without fear. Why is it possible that Trump may or could be impeached? Because the president is not above the law and if he is found to have broken the laws or is breaking the laws, he will be held accountable and if necessary, will be kicked out. The country is run according to the constitution and nobody can violate it without consequences. What Ousainou Darboe and his protégé, Barrow, have done and are still doing with regard to the issue of the vice president will not happen in any serious country. This is only happening because of the lack of strong institutions. If you want to see how much more damage Ousainou Darboe can do, with Barrow’s compliance, just give him a majority and see.

In order to have strong institutions, vote for a diverse assembly. The new assembly should have a good representation of women. There are more women in the country than men but the UDP has only one female candidate. We need to see the different tribes represented but more importantly, we need serious people who will not be pushovers for Ousainou Darboe.

Fellow Gambia, the National Assembly needs Halifa Sallah, Sedia Jatta and people like them. We need young people who are the future of this country; half of the population is under 20 years old. These young people cannot have a better teacher than Halifa to school them in the true ways of democracy. We need to develop serious leaders who will play the role Halifa played for the Gambia when we almost fell into an abyss. When the country needed a steady hand to steer the country out of chaos, Halifa played that role in an outstanding manner. I am confident that if his role was played by the likes of Mai Fatty, God forbid, the country would probably still be in turmoil. This is because he would have done something crazy that would have given Jammeh the opportunity to kill many more people. I can guarantee you that having seen the way Halifa handled the political impasse with such a high level of maturity, if he is elected to the Assembly, the Gambia will be able to build the institutions we need for a lasting democracy. The fact that Ousainou Darboe and his fanatics do not want Halifa in the Assembly tells you a lot. Fellow Gambians, if you listen to Ousainou Darboe and his folks and fail to vote for Halifa and people like him, you will regret it forever. Be warned!!

To end this column, I would like to leave you with some take-home messages or rather take-to-the polling booth messages:

  • Vote for STRONG INSTITUTIONS! Do not allow Usainou Darboe’s Party (UDP) to have a majority in the Assembly. If they do, their behavior will be worse than what you are seeing now. If they have a majority, they will not listen to anybody and they will continue the arrogance we have seen so far. And, in effect, we will be back to a dictatorship. A weak UDP will unshackled Barrow and allow him to work with PDOIS, PPP, GDC, the other parties and independent Assembly members to achieve the goals of the real coalition and the country at large. We need everybody to contribute their ideas on how to build a solid democratic system for the country.
  • Vote for HALIFA. The people of Serekunda should be proud of their famous son who has been in the struggle against injustice and dictatorship for a long and used his steady hand and knowledge to steer the country during a very dangerous time.
  • Vote for UNITY. We need everybody on board to develop the country just as everybody came together to liberate the country from 22 years of dictatorship. Uniting the country should be of paramount importance to all Gambians. What we have seen so far from Usainou Darboe’s Party (UDP), with their politics of division, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism will not do any good for the country and must be defeated. Ousainou Darboe should not be allowed to put his personal interest ahead of the country’s interest. We have the opportunity of a life time to once again vote for a united Gambia. He was not around when we did it in December 2016 and ousted Jammeh. Come Thursday, let’s show how him how we did it by coming together against him. We are one Gambia and One nation. No one should divide us!!

Remember, “Gambia Has Decided” will not be fully accomplished if we do not have a strong Assembly. So, let’s go do it tomorrow, on Thursday, April 6th, 2017. See you at the polls!

By a Senior Citizen



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