By Madi Jobarteh – When we went to the polls on December 1, We the People voted not to merely remove Yaya Jammeh and APRC out of power, only. But we went to the polls to effect a system change. That is, the Gambia decided to ensure that the entire apparatus, culture, system and mentality of Jammehism and APRCism is uprooted entirely and forever from the face of the Gambia. This is because the APRC/Yaya Jammeh System is a total negation of Gambianness – our beliefs, faith, sovereignty and dignity. Hence our verdict was not for regime change but for system change and this is why we embraced the Coalition.
The parties that formed the Coalition have themselves acknowledged that indeed they were coming together to effect a system change as they have clearly stated it in their manifesto. Here is what their candidate Adama Barrow who we voted as our Chief Servant said in that manifesto:
“I have offered myself as an Independent Candidate who will serve for only three years at the head of a broad-based and inclusive Coalition Government aimed at conducting constitutional, institutional and administrative reforms that would establish the foundation of a democratic system of administration that would put an end to the culture of impunity and self-perpetuating rule and usher in an era for Gambians to enjoy liberty and prosperity under a system of government that is sensitive and responsive to the needs and aspirations of its citizenry.”
In that manifesto, the Coalition identified a number of program areas that require changes just to ensure that indeed we have a new system of governance that upholds the dignity and sovereignty of the Gambian citizen. For example under the program on Democracy and Rule of Law, the fourth action spoke of enfranchising Gambians abroad by amending Section 39 of the Constitution and Sections 11 and 141 of the Elections Act. Similarly, the Coalition also said that would make amendments to Section 63 subsection 1 of the Constitution in order to introduce a two-term limit of five years a term. In order to ensure that our laws are in line with best practices in upholding human rights, the Coalition manifesto said they would revoke all provisions in our laws that criminalize speech including libel, sedition, false news and false publication within six months of assuming political office. These and many more are what they have tasked themselves to do in order to bring about system change.
To effect these changes requires that the government follow the rule of law in which the role of the National Assembly is paramount. Hence when we now face the National Assembly elections, one would expect the fundamental question facing the Coalition is how do they ensure control of the parliament in order to effect the necessary system change. In a democracy, the parliament is the most strategic and most powerful institution hence no government jokes with a parliament in such a dispensation.
The stories that are circulating about the Coalition parties and their intentions about the parliamentary elections call for sober reflection on their part and indeed on the part of the citizenry. The Coalition must remember that the people did not support them only disintegrate after we voted out Yaya Jammeh, rather Gambians supported the Coalition as a compact body that will lead the country together for the next three years as per their manifesto to bring about a true system change. In that regard, the idea of the Coalition members parting ways in any sense of the word is utterly unwelcome and a betrayal if it happens.
What we expect the Coalition to do is on the one hand to field independent candidates as they did with the presidency. In that way, they reduce cost and more importantly maintain the momentum and power they have garnered since they created the Coalition. The other alternative is to have each of the parties field their own candidates but in a tactical move such that no two Coalition members contest one seat against each other. In this way each party also maintains their individual identity yet at the same time ensure that such tactical approach is within the wider framework of the Coalition. Hence what we will have at the end is a National Assembly under the full control of the Coalition.
The members of the Coalition must remember that the Barrow Administration is their baby. They conceived it and gave birth to it, hence it is their primary responsibility to ensure that this administration succeeds. The coalition is also a social contract between these parties and the people of the Gambia hence they cannot therefore weaken this Coalition in any way as that would constitute a betrayal of the highest order. They must also bear in mind that this Coalition is a litmus test, which would either validate the choice of the people or vindicate APRC and Yaya Jammeh that this is a Coalition of selfish people and parties. Hence members of the Coalition face a historic and national duty to see to it that this Coalition survives and succeeds.
To the people of the Gambia, my appeal is that we must remain steadfast and principled so that no one party or leader will get our support if they deviate from the supreme interest of the nation. As I have stated multiple times, no politician is good or bad, rather it all depends on how the people relate with that politician. Hence it is the people who make a politician good or bad by either holding them to account or being complacent with them. We voted for the Coalition as a compact instrument to bring back our human dignity, restore our sovereignty and fulfill our developmental needs. This is a non-negotiable demand and we must not under any circumstances relax to allow these sacred objectives to be flouted on the altar of partisan and selfish political interests.
Let us remind the Coalition members that even when we have voted out Yaya Jammeh, yet the ground is not still completely cleared of the remnants of Yaya Jammeh. The APRC are lurking in the shadows like hungry wolves ready to spring on our dignity and sovereignty again to continue to plunder and rape. Thus the battle is not over yet until we go to the National Assembly elections and ensure that not a single APRC candidate wins even one vote in any constituency in the Gambia. It would be a grave mistake on the part of the Coalition if they allow therefore their various party and individual interests to cause an APRC candidate in that house. That would be a great insult to Solo Sandeng and Solo Koroma and indeed all of the people tortured, raped, jailed and killed under the APRC Tyranny.
God Bless The Gambia.