COMMENTARY ON THE CURRENT GAMBIA’S POLITICAL IMPASSE: THE PENDULUM OF POWER HAS SHIFTED – HAVE WE CROSSED THE RUBICON?

I would first and foremost seize this opportunity to congratulate and salute the Coalition on their victory in the historic elections of 1st December 2016. This victory is a clear testimony of the will of the Gambian people through a free, fair and transparent election.

The Gambian people have spoken loud and clear in support of democracy, rule of law, fair play and justice. I again salute the coalition and indeed the other opposition party, the GDC, for their steadfastness to effect a change of government through peaceful means. You have certainly rekindled our hopes and aspirations and brought in a new dawn of freedom, justice and democracy. There is no substitute for these indispensable elements and certainly they are sacrosanct and non-negotiable.

The election was hailed by Gambians both at home and abroad, including the outgoing President and the entire International Community as absolutely free, fair and transparent, with the declaration of Mr. Adama Barrow of the opposition coalition as President –Elect. The outgoing President in a show of magnanimity congratulated the President-Elect on his victory and promised to give him all the support necessary for a peaceful transfer of power and to provide further advisory services on the request of the President-Elect when needed.

This magnanimous gesture from the out-going President was widely hailed and acknowledged throughout the world. This excellent  demerge was however marred by the unexpected U-Turn of the out-going President to reject the results lock stock and barrel citing yet unsubstantiated irregularities  and  unilaterally annulling the elections, requesting the country to go back to the polls and according to him under a ‘’God fearing IEC.’’ This unexpected U-Turn catapulted the country to the current political crisis. Defusing the political tensions has preoccupied all Gambians and the International Community in a bid to find a lasting solution to the situation through negations and the peaceful transfer of power.

It is rather unfortunate that the outgoing President is still adamant not to step down despite repeated calls for him to do so. President –Elect Adama Barrow has repeatedly called on the out-going President to open lines of communication, so that agreements could be reached on a transitional agenda but to no avail.

His party challenged the election results at the Supreme Court, but the case could not proceed due to lack of quorum and the case could not be heard until Judges could be made available, perhaps in May 2017. The bone of contention now is that his party loyalists are drumming the idea of linking the inauguration of the new President to the outcome of their election petition and have taken the extra step to seek court injunction to prevent the inauguration taking place.

What is interesting is that the APRC and their surrogates have been challenged by the Coalition to quote the relevant sections of the Constitution that a new President cannot be sworn into Office pending the outcome of an election petition. They have not responded to this challenge. The Coalition, on the other hand, through the Spokesperson, clearly and succinctly quoted the sections of the Constitution convincingly rebutting this claim from the APRC. Therefore, the logical conclusion to draw is that the new President should be inaugurated on the 19th January 2017.

Those advocating withholding the inauguration pending the outcome of the APRC election petition must not allow their will to become the lord of their reason. They must not bury their heads in the sand through repeated denials. Their case certainly seems to stand on a sandy foundation. WE HAVE CROSSED THE RUBICON? I equally exercise my democratic rights to appeal to any family member leaving in denial, to speedily wake up and join the Noah’s Ark. This is the beauty of democracy.

I therefore join the countless voices urging President Yahya Jammeh to accept the will of the people and peacefully and honorably hand over the baton of power to his successor. The Gambian People have time without number, appreciated the numerous infrastructural and other developments registered by the APRC Government, but the People voted for Change under the banner of FREEDOM.

These significant developments are important bargaining chips for the out-going President to use as a platform to negotiate for a peaceful exit. The President –Elect has set the ball rolling by offering his predecessor certain guarantees befitting a former Head of State, including personal security, among others. This is a magnanimous gesture par excellence

I also congratulate the combined Armed and Security Services for maintaining peace and stability during these trying times and to further entreat them to continue this high level of professionalism and regimentation in the protection of lives and properties and to ensuring civil oversight of the Military in accordance with the Gambia Armed Forces Act and the Armed Forces Regulations for Discipline.

LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

Author: Mr. Essa Khan, National and International Consultant, and former Government Civil Servant