This week again Gambians found ourselves engulfed in a national discourse surrounding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that led to the historic and unprecedented defeat of one of Africa’s most brutal and unpatriotic tyrant. The historic national pride that restored tiny Gambia back on the World map in a positive light for the first time in 22 years was a by-product of a serious; honest, realistic and life and death agreement that probably safe the plight of a people and their nation. The extraordinary sacrifice, efforts and agreements that was put into the formation of the successful coalition by leaders of various opposition parties can be rightfully described as the founding fathers of the third Republic. That’s the magnitude of the unprecedented work that went into the process that led to the MOU and by default the birth of the Barrow Presidency.
The background that led to this national uproar is an interview with leader of the UDP Alhagi Ousainou Darboe and current minister of Foreign Affairs during the “For people, by the People and of the People” show hosted by Banka Manneh, Musa Jeng and Coach Pa Samba Jow. Mr. Darboe was responding to a question on the agreement by the Coalition for then candidate Barrow or anybody selected to lead the coalition to serve a period of three years as an independent transitional leader. A comprehensive agreement the Memorandum of Understanding (Mou). containing terms of agreement of the process and functions of the coalition body in the formation of a government. Mr. Darboe’s contention was that the MOU agreement was in contravention to the constitutional requirements of a five year term. He had made this argument before and even insinuated that he would be willing to challenge the constitutionality of the three year agreement if parties want to enforce it. This was believed to be the basis of Darboe’s argument.
However, his making mention that the MOU was not signed by the parties and therefore may not be legally binding was what caught the attention of many listeners. Confusion earnest after hearing this because the issue of whether Barrow will serve for three years and resign is in contention seven months into his presidency. What Mr. Darboe wanted to explain and the rationale behind mentioning the unsigned MOU which led to the elections that put the opposition in power is anybody’s guess. Many believe that this may have been a mistake or taken out of context in that Darboe may have tried to explain his constitutional position about the three year agreement instead of questioning non-signing of the MOU. What he was trying to proof by mentioning that the MOU was “not signed” is still elusive to many people. Was he trying to question the legality and validity of the agreement without signatures, or was he trying to question that there was lapse of legal counsel from the side of those who put together the agreement. At the very least many people doubt if Darboe was questioning the legitimacy of the agreement that in fact put his party to power and that led to his own freedom from the clutches of tyranny. This is where a spokesperson from the UDP majority party both locally and in the Diaspora would have added value by following up to clarify what their leader was trying to explain.
Without a question, the process that led to the constitution of the MOU, the elections and the eventual victory of the coalition against the dictator was willfully and knowingly agreed to and consented by all political parties who were involved. All the parties agreed and signed every agreement that led to the final coalition agreement that put Barrow to power. To reduce the historic agreement that the whole of Africa is envious of and now looking at as a Model to whether the MOU was signed or not is simply throwing doubt and mistrust among the parties who sacrificed so much to defeat a tyrant. This is why we don’t believe that Darboe was deliberately questioning the validity of the MOU and as a result he may have either misspoken or could have explained his position better. Did the MOU had any flaws that did not factor in the existing constitutional stipulations; the answer is absolute yes. Is referring to the MOU agreements as “gentleman agreement” that leaves Barrow room to do what was agreed or not a smart idea? We don’t think so! And the rationale is that governing is too complicated, too broad and has far reaching national consequences to be based on “Gentleman agreement”. Certainly, politics and position of power is too enticing to be left to a gentleman agreement. We therefore think leaving any room for any of the parties to bail out of the agreement without consequences or not holding them accountable to what was agreed was a miss-opportunity and was ill advised.
One thing is explicitly clear, there is nothing that should diminish the historic victory and courage the Gambian people showed by coming together and bravely defeating tyranny to safe the country from sliding into permanent monarchy. The collective efforts of the Gambian people must be recognized at every level and every efforts must be dedicated to jealously guard what Gambians achieved together in December. We must ensure the Barrow government whether it stays for three or five years must see through the constitutional and political reforms Gambians fought for become a reality. Anything short of a complete reform of our system and the strengthening of our institutions would be a betrayal of the movement that will go down in history as the most incredible recipe to defeat a dictator and his brutal machine. We therefore hope that Gambians will once again put their political divides on the side and ensure that this coalition project yield the results that would permanently put Gambian on the path to a Democratic model in Africa. Serious Gambians must continue to put heads together to push forward our collective participation into building an everlasting Democracy worthy of emulation. Anything less must be met with vigorous resistance that far supersedes the power and might of the resistance that shocked the Dictator into exile. We are optimistic that nothing can derail this moving train into the ocean shores of a strong independent and viable Democratic Gambia.
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