Opinion: Please, in the name of God, don’t destroy The Gambia. Allow the country to heal and move forward.

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Please, in the name of God, don’t destroy The Gambia.

“THE GAMBIA WILL MORE THAN CERTAINLY DESCENT INTO HELL!”- they are saying.

(But) Will it be 3 or 5 years? This isn’t Coercion or Coalition, but the Constitution.”

The Referee is the Constitution! Full Stop! 

The Gambia´s Law is very clear:

Section 69 of Chapter IX of the Criminal Code of Laws of The Gambia, Unlawful assembly is defined – When three or more persons assemble with intent to commit an offence, or, being assembled with intent to carry out some common purpose, conduct themselves in a manner that causes persons in the neighbourhood reasonably to fear that the persons so assembled will commit a breach of peace, or will by the assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are an unlawful assembly.

Section 72 is all about making orders and or proclamation for rioters to disperse. This can be carried out by a magistrate, a commissioned police or military officer of The Gambia commanding the rioters to disperse peaceably.

Many 2016-Coalition Members who favor the line (President Barrow for 5 years), blasted the decision (3 year Jotna planned demonstrations), saying it “violates the rule of law and fails to resolve the issue.” Barrow would “restore law and order.” He wouldn´t want to be told “who was in charge, who called the shots.”

I’m reminding them of their duty to think about their choice in a way that’s consistent with their conscience and the Constitution. The law [anywhere] in this country was that people could exercise their freedom without breaching the law. Peace and Stability will remain in the Gambia. There is NO “New Gambia” but ONLY “New Gambians” (with very strange and funny partisans and tribal political attitudes). Allow the country to heal and move forward.

The Director General of the Criminal Investigative Service (of The Gambia Police Force) will arrest and detain and charge any activists… Anyone activists could be accused of “preparing acts aimed at disrupting public peace and order and security in the country and possible “crimes against national security” and also “complicity to hostility against the Fatherland.”

Politics being what it is and what it is not, any activists could eventually be charged with “rebellion” and an “attempted coup d’Etat” since their slogan is “Barrow must leave by any means…”

On the thorny issue of the “3 years Jotna” planned demonstrations though, local and Diaspora Gambian so-called activists do not expect the Gambian Armed Forces (GAF) to breathe a word.  Personally, I don’t think they’ll (GAF) say anything, but they´ll do anything, not just do something. It all borders on State Internal Security (IS) – and that is another special interest area for the Military to aid the Police Force in the Riot Control phase. The Military and the Police belonged together in the same GAF. “We will not turn our eyes away from what is going to happen in The Gambia in December. We are getting ready for all eventualities. Hardly anyone dares to predict what a way out of this crisis could look like. President Barrow has made for a total restructuring of the government… I reject the appeal for any senseless demonstrations, saying the president must go. Go to where? Mankamang Kunda? But he is elected for a mandate of 5 years. That is the Constitution. Obviously, he can resign to honour his words to stand down after 3 years, as is being echoed by “people who are working toward completely different goals.” “It’s crossing the line. It’s no longer funny,” he went on, castigating the President and his supporters for using the “promise” to further their own ends.” The coalition 2016, under which Barrow made the promise has come out very clear to say “we support the 5-year mandate for Barrow”. That is also the voice of the Constitution. In any genuine Democracy, the Constitution is the supreme law. And not demonstrations. To honour or not to honour his words is entirely Barrow´s own mind. If he fails to honour his words; it is this simple; “President Barrow´s political abuse of a solemn promise.” says a GNA Captain. Some Gambians are infuriated by President Barrow´s desire to stay for 5 years.  They say this lead to massive demonstrations all over the country with expectations of probable police clashing with protesters in the streets.

The GAF would weigh in heavily on any activists and their supporters if they break any laws during the demonstrations. Anybody can thereafter say “it would be an unprecedented attack on freedom of speech, freedom or right to assembly and democracy in The Gambia.”

“Now that President Barrow will not step down in 2019 but in 2021, that political harlot, Mai Fatty´s hope for Presidency is gasping its last breaths, and so is losing everything — all his economic and political plans — that he built on the back of ingratiating himself to the inner Seat of Government (while serving as adviser to the president). He sees no light in the tunnel, so he decided to resign “based on principles”- his own words. What principles – principles of opportunists and ingratiate liars?

To smoke or force Barrow out of the State House… “That’s what they should do — but we’ll see.” That is treason…

“Some of the criticism on President Barrow is unfair. President Barrow has done great things. There is more openness, less police brutality, journalists are somewhat freer.” said an activist journalist, who asked to remain anonymous.

The demonstrations, may descend into violence and anarchy, thereby triggering an exodus of Gambians into exile, many of them would try to making the dangerous migration to Europe. Bringing tribal and political wars by the “3-year Jotna” foolish agenda would be a huge historical error for Gambia. “If you don’t die from the violence, you run to escape it”

The Gambia Armed Forces may not only but will certainly carry out a sweep in the unstable areas with demonstrators, adding to concern about abuse by security forces in their fight against activists. Anybody can blame them for exacerbating the demonstrations, while they roam the areas with little constraint because the activists-occupied areas will be termed as “The zone is dangerous.” Criminals and thieves’ gangs may exploit the demonstrations and cause unwanted actions thereby turning everything into undesired results… Gambians are not ready to hear the usual excuses, “we didn’t plan it this way. We took all precautions…bla, bla, bla…” Safety is safety. Security is security, and without it, there is no peace.

The Gambians have not only witness demonstrations in Faraba Bantang but also in Brikama and of recent in Serre Kunda. All these were called “peaceful”. But how did they turn out? (Just tell me) Destructions of Properties of innocent people, Complaints of Harassments, Lootings, Thefts, Deaths and Arson attacks especially on Police Stations and homes of Security Officers… Do we want the same situations repeated under our eyes because we have a so-called “New Gambia”? What made it a New Gambia? In Yaya Jammeh´s era of late, who dare call for such demonstrations? None. Even if they do, we all know the results of the end game. We must not abuse President Barrow´s leniency and humanity. There is no limitless freedom. “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” – Unknown

“There’s a huge public distrust of the state. And many don’t trust law enforcement authorities. This distrust is justified. Many believe that this tragedy in many aspects reflects the Gambian reality. That’s a terrible representation of our state after more than 50 years of independence existence. Something bad lurks beneath the surface, something bad has seeped into the very foundation of our nation. President Barrow seems like he doesn’t have the situation under control anymore. With that, he’s only driving Gambia deeper into a serious crisis. I believe President Barrow has lost touch with the reality.” – a retired Security Officer who asked not to be identified.

The Gambia is a small country, geographically speaking. It can be crossed by car in just a few hours. The activists will tell you and want to make you believe, “The population is poor and neglected by the authorities.” Equally, the police will tell you that, “The failure to hold violent demonstrators who attacked security forces accountable for such serious human rights violations suggests that the rule of law is virtually absent in The Gambia.” Sadly enough, the so-called human right activists will only examine the police’s crackdown on protesters and say its findings relate mostly to alleged abuses committed during purported anti-crime operations.

The “3-years Jotna” is being called “Operations for the Liberation of the People.” The Gambians are polite and reasonable but we will also not be pushed around.

There is no place like home. Home sweet home.

Who is or who are behind the “3 Year Jotna”? Certainly, the insincere politicians. The likes of Mai Fatty (listen to his Press Conference as he resigns from Barrow´s adviser team). Mai is desperate like a drowning man trying to grasp at anything that comes in his nearness or way. He sees the “3 year Jotna” issue as his best opportunity (like the opportunist and political harlot he ever is) to feast on the disgruntle minds of the “3 year Jotna” team to achieve his aim – to become “savior” (“Today I have offered my resignation to the president of the republic,” Mai Fatty told a news briefing. “If the president accepts it, I am ready to resign tomorrow. I am an international and national lawyer. “3 year Jotna” – They have the right to demonstrate. I will defend them…” Mai bluffs). Mai Fatty simply wants to make headlines. Mai, there’s nothing better for you to do than to tell the truth. Who is Mai trying to fool? His son, Muhammed? Or his Senegalese wife, Ndeye? But not Gambians. Mai is trying to intimidate the authorities into premature actions. Mai has totally flunked on all his promises, but he has doubled down on the hypocritical rhetorics recently, trying to maintain his popular base and finger-pointing at the President Barrow Administration. What a shame and shameless attitude. Mai is simply orchestrating the demonstrations – for he thinks that is his key to the State House. But he is ultimately a man of the system (“3 years Jotna”) and wants to remain one. His identity is tied up with being part of the system — if he denies it, he denies himself. Anybody should be fully aware of becoming a tool to stoke hatred and division among Gambians to think the “3-years Jotna” would trigger protests that would lead to the resignation of President Barrow. “There was no other way to silence him” but by the ballots in 2021. “Evil won’t win, even if it might seem so now.” I really strongly refute the image of Gambia as a country being run by the Senegalese, which is an image being spread by several individuals or groups of people. The Gambia is a sovereign country flying her own National Flag. If everyone Gambian who reads the Constitution, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

The organizers and their supporters are always quick to define themselves as victims because they are “Genuine, Peaceful and Unarmed Demonstrators”. But how genuine, peaceful and unarmed are they when they´d petrol-bombed Police Stations and individual properties? The (“3 years Jotna”) activists that there might be… Be seriously warned. Certainly, you will be disappointed. It would be a brutal, fruitless national but political conflict.  I´d be glad to tell you “I warned the “3-year Jotna” activists, but unfortunately they didn’t heed me.”

All political parties should seize this historic chance to engage in serious dialogue to find a lasting peace settlement to the political conflict. I know the Gambian leader would welcome the “positive response” and has “expressed his readiness to welcome warmly and with considerable goodwill the Gambians who want to see a better Gambia under his tenure of office and not the likes of those who want to demonstrate in December.

It should be a peace delegation.  And the bitter words for the activists (“3-years Jotna”) – an undercover elements of the Diaspora Gambians faction of Breakaway UDP 2016 coalition that wields no influence in both politics and security.

Gambia is now at a turning point. Although it will require time and efforts to remove the tribalism and political toxic and malignant legacy and to bring about a congenial climate, the positive direction (The Government´s NDP 2018-2021) that has been set in motion is crystal clear.

I will strictly warn some hardliners in Gambia and as very few Diaspora Gambians would seek “the perpetuation of tension with Barrow government” and to frustrate efforts towards “a durable solution to the senseless tribalism and political conflict that they unleashed.

The smart move would be to wait out the end of President Barrow’s mandate, stay in the Barrow Administration and build up something with the Gambians, however limited. Wait until this 5-year-term is over in 2021. President Barrow had said it clearly in Faraba Bantang: “We can only have one president at a time. For now, I have been given a five-year mandate to rule. At the end of my five years’ mandate, then we can all weigh into the political race to vey for the presidency.” So, further listen to him; “Gambia has been known for its culture of peace and stability, which makes it the pride of Africa. There is no reason why we should resort to violence or illegal use of force to solve our problems.”

  So, let those with brains and ears hear. Period. President Barrow has spoken. I couldn’t believe it. We were so absolutely shocked by it. This honest speech though caused shock and disbelief throughout the country in the minds of his haters, sparking (bitter reactions and indignations) and as result, they planned mass popular protests and a political crisis,  against  the government of President Barrow.

The Gambians (anybody who is foolishly thinking they can go out in the streets and conduct riots…and) are expecting this deliberate but unfortunate incidents will culminate with the forceful resignation of President Barrow and (maybe) his entire cabinet.  They are daydreaming. 

Mai Fatty would regret ditching the pact (serving in Barrow´s Administration) “like never before.” Mai is like the proverbial housefly (the insect, “See Kumbaaa” in Mandinka) that perches only on wet grounds. The true colour of opportunists. A chameleon´s politics.

 UDP´s Ousainou Darboe’s name could be removed so it wouldn’t be provocative.

Protecting the prosperity and unity of the country is his (President Barrow´s) top priority, especially in this tough situation.  So long as the police are acting in good faith; the permits to hold demonstrations can/could be issued or withdrawn, if and only if the Police sees and or feels any situations involving an imminent risk to public peace and safety. “We should allow law enforcement and the intelligence community to do its job without political influence.” Says a Taxi driver around Westfield.

The relationship between civilians and Security Forces has deteriorated, sadly, significantly over the last several years. And so how we approach an appropriate response that increases trust for them to work together like hand and glove in the future but does not create problems for us (as a Nation) is something that’s worth taking the time to think through and figure out.

Anybody who wish for the truth should defend Security Forces´ administration’s response to the demonstrators attacking Police officers and police stations (arson attacks) and vow to “send a clear message to any demonstrators” that its breaking any laws was unacceptable.

State Security and Intelligence was being politicized.

 

In recent days, I have had several conversations with Gambians across the globe, providing an update on the status of the planned December demonstrations as well as the considerations that need to be taken (by Security Forces) into account as we proceed towards December. Many — but unfortunately not all — Gambians understand and appreciate the importance and the gravity of the issue, and they are very supportive of the process that is underway. The truth is they were never all that different in the first place, as they feel President Barrow must step down at the end of the 3 years…

“Honestly, I’ve seen (on Tvs) enough funerals and destructions in other countries. I’m tired of hearing “Tag´geh” (funeral announcements). You are going to demonstrate. But the Security Forces, all of them signed a loyalty pledge to the President and their Commander-in-Chief (CiC). And that alone matters. Security and Safety before Peace and Human Rights.

Don´t let yourself be fooled and sent to early graves or maimed for life. Learn from the late Solo Sandeng´s case. May his soul rest in peace. But do we all know who pushed him forward? They are in the USA and the UK eating their Jollof Rice…and KFCs Kentucky Fried Chickens and Hamburgers. I’m sorry this has happened to Solo Sandeng. Today – they abandoned his family in dire situation. How about Saul Ndow and Ma-Hawwa Cham? And Ndure Cham? They were all fooled into their early graves by so-called activists and insincere politicians calling themselves “Gambia´s patriots”. They are always saying “I would like to think we would be successful, but if not, we need to do all we could to prevent this man (Adama Barrow) from being president in December.” They want to force him out of the State House…  But I can certainly tell you, “Prepare your KFCs and Hamburgers, and eat hearty, for December, you will go to battle not with President Barrow. This isn’t Coalition or Coercion, but the Constitution.” Which states that “the Presidential term is 5 years”. And that affords a moral certainty to understand one´s limit, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in a position to respect the Constitution.

This is their “New” Gambia, yes, their “New” Gambia where people believe “they have all limitless freedom rights to say and or do whatever they want.” That is only imagination. Beware of over-ambitious and insincere politicians who are trying to use you for their selfish and personal gains. I couldn’t name more than one publicly but I would insist that more were out there. I’m reminding them of their duty to think about their choice in a way that’s consistent with their conscience (if at all they have one) and the Gambian Constitution.

These multitudes of insincere politicians believe in nothing good for the nation or her people “other than their own political party pledges.”

President Barrow’s desire to have it for 5 years and his supporters´ public stance has elicited death threats and hate mails and online battles… As of yesterday, people are calling to say, “Get your ass together, or we’re coming for you,” They are doing it with their own phone numbers, not even blocking the numbers. That’s not been surprising — look at what UDP´s Ousainou Darboe says himself: “I will sue anybody who says Barrow should step down after three years…” Certainly, Ousainou Darboe never had the constitution´s 5-years term in mind, but “he” taking over directly from Adama Barrow! And today, Ousanou Darboe is supporting the 3-year-Jotna agenda: Barrow must step down upon clocking 3 years!!! Frankly, this is hard and not something I do lightly understand. “I’ve been working in partisan politics a long time, and I don’t like voting against my own party and candidate, but I never thought that the country might be unstable until now. Many a times, I don´t understand Ousainou Darboe´s true colours. ”

We have been getting a civics lesson we weren’t prepared to get,” Koller said. “They gave us the fail-safe emergency brake, in case the people got it wrong. And here we are, 54 years later after attainment of National Independence.

 HONG KONG PROTESTS….

The entire nonsense about the (“3 years Jotna”) trying to use the Coalition´s 3 years agreement against President Barrow´s 5-year constitutional mandate issue to forcefully and violently change the Presidency is really unfortunate and a sure recipe for trouble. Face the Truth. That is a threat to State Security and the National Peace.  I think that actually undermines our democracy more than any other conversation that we’re having right now. The Gambian Constitution says a 5-year mandate as Presidential term.

Just a handful of demonstrators are poised to test the limits this year (December).

“The Police should ban the planned demonstrations citing criminality and hooliganisms, breaking and looting shops and stores, arson attacks on Police Stations and individual properties… I have no idea what the other Gambian electors are going to do.” A passenger said. “They’re entitled to their opinion; I’m entitled to mine.

I will issue a stern warning today against the proliferation of fake news and the threat of demonstrations, branding it an epidemic with “real national consequences” that must be addressed in order to protect the nation’s democracy. The prominence of fake articles shared on Facebook and other social media is causing a lot of problems in our society and is a threat to Gambian values.  Lives will certainly be at risk’ over fake news.

Westfield or MacCarthy Square (defunct 22nd July Square) “None of these spots will be opened for protesters,” one Police Officer said.

We are faced with the extraordinary and unconstitutional situation where so-called activists are being allowed to space on online newspapers and mass media to decide where or even if demonstrators will be allowed to protest the “3 year Jotna” agenda on Gambian land in the nation’s capital.

It is said that despite the decision, Gambian law nevertheless allowed peaceful street protests to go ahead without permits.

“For all of those who are concerned, who are thinking about changing their plans — because that is the unconstitutional effect of what the 3-Year-Jotna are doing — we’re here to say that it is lawful and safe to peacefully march in The Gambia, and we welcome everyone to engage in their free speech rights. But breaking any laws will be dealt with accordingly.

“It is far from clear that 3-year-Jotna’s original intent was to support the lurking opposition political parties (better said, The UDP camp), and many intelligence officials – and former officials in Barrow´s campaign – believe that the primary motive of the 3-Year-Jotna was to simply disrupt the Barrow government´s activities and undercut confidence in the integrity of the Gambians that support President Barrow.

“We are going to make better security as much as we can,” the PIU officer added. “This is a major priority for the president. “This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country. And we reject any politicization of intelligence matters and the security institutions. Gambians should absolutely respect the intelligence community.

But what are these protesters hoping for, exactly?

Hoping against hope… “Beyond hope, yet somehow maintaining faith in hope.”

The Security Forces are there to “Saving the country from a demagogue”. But now some rogue demonstrators are hoping they’ve found the solution to “Chase President Barrow out of the State House”. If they´re given the chance, that would be “a disaster for our democracy”.

To suggest that public complaints are falling on President Barrow´s deaf ears with supporters who have “little appetite for better change.” We all have to help ourselves (Gambians) find our way through a peaceful transition. That’s not something that can happen in one day. It’s something that one has to work on. I am holding out a sincere advice that´s just enough to “Demonstrators with a conscience”. The successful but peaceful Gambia should be our priority today.

“Our primary role is the security, to make sure our country is very peaceful and is secured. That is my primary role and that is what I’m paid for. We have a Commander-in-Chief and for now, he is President Barrow.”

Cheey Gambia – where school drop-outs (in the Diaspora) try to lead the winds of change inside the country using remote controlled mechanisms.  Did I hear him speak about “Demonstrations”? Whether it is Mai Fatty or the school certificate falsifier, Alhagie (Cham) Joof (alias Sir Jackal and real name, Sait Cham) – “Ignore him, he just wants attention, to make headlines” says an old lady, a native of Balanghaar Kerr Nderry selling at Serre Kunda fish market.

I am asking Gambians to not judge the entire community of the Gambia Police Force “Anti Crime /Crime Prevention Unit” for one or two individual’s acts.

The demonstrators threaten; “THE GAMBIA WILL MORE THAN CERTAINLY DESCENT INTO HELL!…

“It would be irresponsible and an affront to justice to impose anything other than a life sentence on all violent demonstrators that attack Security Forces and conduct arson attacks on Police Stations and individual properties. The time has come for Demonstrators to be held accountable for those crimes against each of their victims and the community they destroyed. We all want what’s best for the country…We all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens.” A UTG student reacted.

“The current government has failed on the social and economic fronts and has not improved the security situation — the country has broken down,” another UTG student said.

“You can’t celebrate lessons of history from one period while standing on the wrong side of history today.”

I am not trying to scare anybody from exercising what you may be calling “My Right, My Freedom, …” Far be it from that. During your mass demonstrations, if you break the laws, your “rights” and “freedoms” will be “bludgeoned to death”.

Because, after the protests and tensions have passed … we will keep one image in our minds: That of police officers stepping out of a vehicle with one single objective in mind, to protect his colleagues and the citizenry.

On social media, audios and videos are often taken completely out of context and are said to show something they don’t.

“The Gambia Police Force (and GAF) have an obligation to the more than 1,5 million Gambians who cast ballots for Adama Barrow to live in total freedom and peace!” says a retired Police officer in Abuko.

Anybody who wants to participate in ongoing proceedings to stage “nationwide” demonstrations in “December 2019” can do so (they have the Police Permit under law), but ensure that you do not violate the laws of the land that equally give and guarantee your rights, did the same for others. “Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence … stands weakened.”

Finally, even if President Barrow decides to step down as he promised in 2016; it would not be on the empty threats and terms of the “3 years Jotna” and or their backing powers in the darkness of political hypocrisy and intrigues underlined by tribal hatred.  (President) Adama Barrow is NOT a Mandingoe but a Gainako Fullani. That is now very clear. Gambians don’t want tribal politics. Many things are happening or being done… The reasons are rooted in a legacy of ignorance of one´s roots, tribalism and abuse. A whole Mandingoe society is targeting indigenous Jolas. We’re still in a tribalists political society that targets indigenous Jolas. In fact, what that leads to is a society who views indigenous Jolas as less than, and in fact of no human value and not citizens of The Gambia. But the Jolas were the first inhabitants of the Gambia River basin well before the coming of the Fullanis and Mandingoes into the area. Then, who is the Host (Jaatiyoo/Njaatiggeh) and who is the Guest (Kod´do/Luntango/Gann)? Know Yourself!

Please, in the name of God, don’t destroy The Gambia. Allow the country to heal and move forward. 

M.A.

Ghanaian-Gambian. I am born in Kossemar/Diabugu-Tenda (Sandu) of a Gambian Mother („AdamaS-S for her Surname) and a Ghanaian Father who worked for „Maurell & Prom“ and the „NTC“ (National Trading Cooperations)… I went to school in Kaabakamba-Basse before relocating to Ghana for my higher education. I now operate in Banjul, London, Dakar, Paris and Accra.

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