By Madi Jobarteh
Once again, the past is visited upon us as the IGP decided to deny a legally registered political party, the Gambia Democratic Congress from holding a political rally without any basis in law. At the same time the IGP has also decided to skilfully deny a protest permit to Three Years Jotna people by restricting their protest to the bushes away from the very subject of their right to freedom of assembly. In both cases it clearly shows that indeed the Gambia Government has no intention whatsoever to allow democracy to nurture in this country. Rather the IGP has shown us once more that indeed that they will deny citizens their constitutional rights by any means even unnecessary.
The Gambia Democratic Congress does not need any permission from the IGP or the Gambia Government as a whole to hold a political rally. What it needs from the IGP is to provide it the security to hold its political activity. The Public Order Act does not give any authority to the IGP to grant or deny a permit to a political party. In any case if there is to be a request for a permit for an activity that is taking place outside of the Greater Banjul Area such permit can only be granted or denied by the Governor of the region and not the IGP, according to the Public Order Act. Therefore, the IGP is abusing his powers by denying GDC a permit.
I wish to therefore urge the leadership of GDC to completely and totally ignore the letter from the IGP and go ahead with their political rally in Kulari and Sareh Buchi. If they are prevented from holding their rally GDC should take the IGP and the Gambia Government to court for violation of their constitutional right. Let us defend our rights and refuse anyone to wrongfully seize our constitutional rights.
Meantime the IEC must urgently intervene to ensure that there is a level level-playing field in the country. The IEC must not ignore this issue because it is a direct affront to the right of political parties to function. If the IGP could deny political parties to run their activities it means the IGP is effectively preventing political parties from selling their agenda to the people and canvassing for votes. This means the IGP is therefore effectively undermining free, fair and credible elections in the country. For that matter IEC must not ignore this issue but should rather confront the IGP to let him know that he is overstepping his bounds.
The right to political activity cannot be stopped even during a state of emergency. Therefore, the IGP has absolutely no power or authority to stop political activity. It is a direct affront to the sovereignty of citizens and an abuse of the Constitution. In this December alone we have seen Pres. Barrow stage numerous political rallies. We have seen other political parties also stage political rallies. Why therefore is the IGP claiming that he has put a stop to political rallies in December 2019 and January 2020 when others have done it already? Is the IGP the King or God of the Gambia? All Gambians must rise up to tame this IGP and the Gambia Government for such a dictatorial conduct!
For The Gambia Our Homeland