I wonder how many people are following the seemingly impending political crisis developing in the USA, six weeks before the presidential election there with President Donald Trump frightening everyone with his possible intention of disputing the results if he should lose to Joe Biden in November who many think will win? While publicly sounding his intent, the FBI and CIA have revealed startling evidence of the Russian KGB clandestinely using cyberspace to undermine Biden’s credibility just to have Trump reelected. The Russian game that was blamed for Hilary Clinton losing to Donald Trump in 2016 is on overdrive again, spreading misinformation to the American voters and trying everything to make Biden look like a loser inclined to undermine American democracy while Trump is portrayed as reinforcing a perfect state of the union he built.
Fake computer images of Joe Biden sleeping and snoring while being interviewed, twisting his remarks from interviews or acting stupidly are circulated online by Russians which most low IQ Americans are treating as factual. Coupled with messages that foreign governments are sending millions of fraudulent mailed ballots into the country in favor of Joe Biden and Trump twitting the same fake stories, ostensibly creates an uncertainty on the flawless voting system America practiced since time immemorial. By the time November is here Trump would have sown enough seeds of doubt in people’s minds to challenge the results and even if the supreme court eventually rules against him his dogmatic followers would remain defiant. It should be seriously monitored by all Americans or by mankind as a whole.
By every indication, American democracy, the model emulated by the whole world risks a monumental setback if Trump carries out his threat to challenge the credibility of the over 200-year old electoral system. Apart from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, nobody in the republican party is condemning Trump for his reckless calculation. So may I ask, what does that say about party politics? That friendship or enmity doesn’t matter but interest alone. All these republicans like Linsey Graham and Republican majority senate leaders Mitch McConnell have in the past denounced Trump’s flawed character and policies until they realized that going against him persistently will ultimately cost them their seats
By challenging the election results in November, only the supreme court will have the jurisdiction to settle such disputes, the reason they are rushing, weeks before Trump’s term ends to select a new conservative judge to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who died last week; however, nine months before the end of Obama’s second term these very people stopped his replacement nominee Merrick Garland of Justice Antonin Scalia who died as well, on the squabble that the time-nine months left for Obama to go-disallowed it.
Now, in the wake of the constitutional dispute in the Gambia I want my readers to start comparing and contrasting the American dilemma to that of the Gambia’s? I thought the American situation was a perfect preamble for critical scholars.
In the Gambia, I believe we are on an uncertain political course that demands urgent attention and discussion. With the new draft constitution dead and buried, it looks pretty obvious that the opposition parties especially the UDP are on a collision course with the Barrow government, come the 2021 general elections.
Lawyer Darbo in his followup press conference had questioned the commitment of the Justice Minister for seriously defending the document he took to the national assembly for ratification of which I am yet to hear the response of the minister. The UDP leader has also explained how when such government ventures fail, heads of state, for ethical reasons, resign from their positions and gave examples of the case of the late Sir Dawda Jawara in the 50s and Theresa May of England recently.
I don’t know how to say this, but since the submission of the draft to the executive where cabinet first review it, while they never added or subtracted anything from document, folks close to the presidency had expressed their dissatisfaction with some of the articles especially on the retroactive term limit of the Barrow government. They have also said and done nothing other than to show their agreement with retaining the 1997 constitution instead of the 2020 one which they believe will somehow disqualify the candidature of Lawyer Darbo who happens to be their toughest opponent. I have heard folks close to the corridor of power-borrowing a phrase from my friend Ebrima Sankarah-saying now and again that Lawyer Darbo’s past conviction records by the country’s legal system will automatically disallow him to contest if the 1997 constitution is retained. And that constitution has now been retained prompting a lot of celebration from the Barrow loyalists and those still defending President Jammeh’s legacy.
The UDP leader has however come out to strongly argue that, despite the conviction, there was nothing that could prevent him from contesting the next election as the flag bearer of his party unless three things happen; that he is mentally or physically incapacitated by an illness or is rejected by his party to lead them. What exactly does he know that we don’t? I guess time will tell.
He is a constitutional lawyer, one of the best for that matter, making me believe that he is relying on his knowledge of our constitution to challenge and win anyone trying to stop him.
I have read and heard some critics saying that Mr. Darbo is trying to create a political tension that may inspire some extremists in his party who might resort to political agitation or civil disobedience like in the regrettable 2016 incident when the UDP youth wing leader, the late Solo Sanding illegally organized a demonstration that sadly cost him his life.
If my memory serves me well, Mr. Darbo had at the time vehemently expressed his disagreement with that demonstration that he had said was organized without the knowledge or approval of the UDP executive. That the only reason he had to organize a subsequent demonstration was to demand for the remains of Mr. Sanding when they were informed of his death.
In that statement, I think he had sent a loud and clear message to his zealots that illegal political demonstrations organized in the name of the party will never be condoned.
So I expect him to rather challenge anyone at the courts trying to use the 1997 constitution to prevent him from contesting next year than to encourage defiant elements in his party to take the dumb route of trying to render the nation ungovernable. ECOMIG and Senegal will not standby and watch that happen anyway, know what Barrow means to them.
Adama Barrow on the other hand will need a genuine campaign team, legally educated and politically committed to help him get over the 2021 huddle.
After listening to his recent speech at the National Assembly, I thought he was out to let the Gambians know that everything that was stalling his government’s achievements had to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, most of his special plans crafted in 2019 for 2020 have been derailed by the effects of the pandemic which to me is a legitimate reason. By the way, I think the president deserve a pat in the back for improving his reading skills. So kudos Mr. “Dyslexia”.
Of course, his critics have been asking for his immediate plans to solve or minimize the problem which I don’t think is a fair question since the pandemic is still around with more damages expected to be done before an all clear is globally realized. They have accused his government of not doing enough about fighting the disease with most of the money received allegedly stolen through corruption. Other than the Health minister going to the NA one time to complain about his employees acting corruptly, the alleged rampant corruption is yet to be proven. It could be a matter of not having enough to keep up with the devastating effects of the pandemic and not necessarily any major corruption as such. It’s just my opinion which I am entitled to, so please spare me the reminder of how my father was a woman and my mother a man.
However, if Barrow wants to prevail, I think he should start tasking his ministers in particular to start showing their substance in promoting his agenda. The Justice minister should come out right away to explain whether or not Lawyer Darbo is qualified to run on the 1997 constitution. His government should make its position known about the failed bid to confirm the draft constitution which nobody is doing. All ministers must publicly explain their position on the matter for him to understand the true believers from the chameleons.
Because what I expect to happen, months down the line, is the pandemic wrecking so much havoc that the government may not even have the resources or see the need to conduct the 2021 elections. It will be another legitimate excuse that the government and Gambians in general should brace up for. It’s still my opinion.
That said, I have this final piece of advice to give President Barrow. The APRC NAMS were very instrumental in tilting the voting fulcrum that killed the draft constitution and I am pretty much sure Mr. Barrow was very happy about the final outcome. In fact he shouldn’t shy away from coming out to thank the APRC directly or indirectly because he might need them again in 2021 to move on.
But with all honesty, I don’t think resuming the TRRC drama at this time in the middle of this deadly pandemic is a wise idea, in that the tenet on which it was founded was to demonize the APRC government whose members seem to be edging towards forming an alliance with the NPP. Sitting there everyday will be to merely install in Gambians and non-Gambians that the APRC government was evil, any one associated with it is evil as well and the 1997 constitution the country now adopts, “thanks to Barrow’s dishonesty”, will be his instrument of oppressing the Gambian people and perpetuating himself in office, just like Jammeh had been.
In this pandemic when everything is falling apart with thousands of lives being lost on daily bases due to the recklessness of the Chinese government, his government should have better things to do or better places to plow our time and resources than in this divisive TRRC, disadvantageous to his future political ambition.
Thanks for reading
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA.