Many Gambians are disappointed in the speech you delivered to the Gambian Community in Turkey. In that speech, you seem to chide the Gambian intellectuals and the Civil Society Organizations questioning what they did to end dictatorship. You also implied that when Yahya Jammeh refused to step down after his defeat, it was only you and your coalition team that stood up to him. That does not represent how events unfolded.
Gambians have struggled for long to end the dictatorship. It is the Gambian masses who said that they had had enough of the brutal regime and came together to effect that change. Do you think that without the hundreds of thousands of the Gambians who went out to vote, the Coalition would have changed the government? It is the ordinary folks who risked everything and went out to vote. Thus, we have the Gambian masses to thank for this change and not politicians. In fact left to the political parties and politicians alone we may not have had a coalition if Solo Sandeng and a few compatriots did not take it upon themselves personally, not under UDP flag, to stage that protest. We know that the political parties were forced to coalesce, not willingly but out of concern for their own personal safety. Otherwise why did they refuse to coalesce since 1996? But anytime the people demand an alliance, it was these very political parties and leaders who would stifle that effort.
In your speech, you made reference of the time when the former president announced his rejection of the results, it was only you and your Coalition members that stood up and spoke out against him. Of course the Coalition had to speak out naturally because you were the primary direct stakeholder in the election as the winner. If you dont speak up to defend your vote, who else should? But may I remind you Sir, that when the former president announced his rejection of the results and intention to annul the elections, the lecturers at the University of the Gambia spoke out followed by the Gambia Bar Association then a host of other civil society organizations took a stance.
Thus, saying that the Civil Society Organizations did not speak out is unfair to say the least.
I find it hard to believe that you are saying that all these people speaking out now did not speak out during the former regime. Even if someone did not speak out then due to the then prevailing circumstances it does not mean that such a person should not speak now. After all, having the ability to speak our minds and contribute to the development of our country was the very purpose of our struggle.
Do you now say that because we were silent during Yahya Jammeh’s time we should remain quiet? Is it not clear to you that most of the pitfalls Yahya Jammeh fell in were due to the fact that he did not allow people to speak out and offer advice on the running of their country? I think it will be a huge mistake on your part if you and your government attempt to silence the voices that are now being raised.
Of course no one is saying that you should do all that the people are saying. You cannot satisfy everyone; that is not possible. But many – if not most – of the people who speak out do so out of genuine love for the country and for your government. No government should ever try to stifle dissent. Dissent and divergent views are part and parcel of good governance. You vowed to restore the rule of law and respect human rights. Well, the advocacy will help you to keep that promise.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen