Sana Sarr (USA)
Yesterday, I came across a video of Citizens’ Alliance’s (CA) Dr. Ismaila Ceesay’s interview with The Fatu Network from December 29, 2021. Apparently, Ceesay had a clandestine meeting with President Barrow after the December 4th elections. However, in response to journalist Lamin Njie’s question on why the meeting was kept a secret, Ceesay argued that his meeting was not a secret. He claimed that there simply was no need to announce it. To that, i call b*ullsh*t!
Allow me to state that I see nothing wrong with Ceesay meeting with Barrow, whether to congratulate him or to discuss other matters, even if it’s for the possibility of a political appointment. Although Dr. Ceesay denies any discussions about political appointments with the President, I couldn’t help noticing the sudden change in his tone and demeanor when he spoke about Barrow. It’s remarkably friendlier and more understanding than we’ve ever seen from Ceesay, but that could be just my cynicism.
Time will tell. Either way, it is his prerogative to do what he will with his political career, and I’m sure Gambians, including members of CA, will have their say if something else were to come out in the near future. That aside, it’s absurd for Ceesay to claim that he did not try to keep the meeting a secret from the public. For starters, it is quite normal, even recommended, for political opponents to reach out to the President elect to congratulate him right after the elections.
It is healthy for our democracy and helps unite the country if opposition leaders are seen accepting the results and congratulating the winner. This is why Gambians, including CA members, are calling on the UDP leader to make a public concession. All over the world, both the elected officials and the opposition are eager to publicize such meetings. The fact that neither of these two gentlemen bothered to make the announcement suggests they deliberately took extra caution to hide the meeting. Heck, if some random guy made headlines for walking from Basse to Banjul to congratulate the President, then how could the state media have missed an opposition leader going to congratulate the President, especially at a time another major party was disputing the results?
Secondly, if the meeting was not secret, why would Dr. Ceesay wait until after the photos from the meeting were leaked to the public for him to talk about it publicly? CA has branded itself as a transparent political party that is constantly communicating with the media as well as their members.
The fact that members of CA were initially denying that such a meeting ever took place indicates that even they were kept in the dark. Ceesay and the CA leadership (if they were aware) owe their members that bit of courtesy, so they don’t make fools of themselves by defending something they don’t have enough information about. I find it insulting that Dr. Ceesay would even attempt this lazy excuse. “Bul seben suma tanka bi beh parreh naan ma dafaa taww”
In the same interview, Dr. Ceesay also sought to explain why CA did not pursue contempt of court charges against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Context – The IEC disqualified CA from contesting the elections, CA sued and the courts accepted their petition and ordered the IEC to allow the party back in, the IEC still refused and CA was going to sue for contempt but did not follow through. Among the reasons Ceesay gave was that CA “did not want to see the old man (IEC Chairman Alieu Momar Njie) taken to jail because of his old age”. What??? I can understand the argument that CA understood the IEC’s challenges and did not want to derail the elections process so they sacrificed. I can also sympathize if Ceesay explained that they evaluated the situation and determined that it may not have been in the party’s best interest to contest in this particular election.
However, it is total b*llsh*t to bring up sympathy for the IEC chairman’s age. I’m sure Dr. Ceesay understands that their party would be holding IEC, the Institution, accountable and NOT Alieu Momar Njie, the individual. Secondly, if jailing an old man is what is in the best interest of the country, then I expect an aspiring presidential candidate to have the conviction to do what’s best for the country “without fear or favor, affection or ill will”, as stated in the oath of office.
As Dr. Ceesay continues his growth in the Gambian Political arena, I hope he realizes that the transparency he is calling for is no longer just political jargon to be thrown around. The media and the public will be paying attention and will hold all politicians accountable. We will listen, but we will also critically assess what you tell us…and we will call out the inconsistencies, the absurd and the BS, so if you’re gonna come, you better come correct. Again, kanaay sumunaa nsing kan wokoola ikaa fonyeh koh samaa long!