Following the reported incident involving the supporters of the Coalition from Kwinella in Kiang and those of the APRC near the check point at Kafenda in Foni Kansala on Sunday, 19 February 2017, the National Reconciliation Committee established by the Coalition visited the two communities to promote peace and tolerance.
The incident eventually resulted in arrests and charges preferred on men and women from the villages of Kanfenda and Burock and the case is now before the courts. According to reports, the accused persons are now granted court bail.
Addressing the gatherings at both Kanfenda and Kwinella, Mr. Ousman Sillah, Coordinator of the Reconciliation Committee said their mission is meant to sensitise the people who are sovereign citizens and advocate for peace and tolerance. He said the message of the Coalition is for all Gambians to embrace the principle of “One Gambia, One Nation and One People” to enable the country to forge ahead for the benefit of all. He told them that they are not engaged in any form of partisan propaganda to force people to support the Coalition. He said it is the right of every sovereign Gambian to support whichever political party or candidate of their choice and to put on their party t-shirts, caps etc. or fly their flags. “No one has the right to stop any Gambian from supporting the party or candidate of his/her choice,” he stressed.
He added that the supporters of the APRC and the Coalition have every right to wear the party ashobi, t-shirts, etc. and to go to everywhere with them without hindrance from anyone.
Mr. Sillah said the Coalition supporters could also celebrate their victory anywhere but that this should not be accompanied by insults, denigration or mockery to those in the opposition.
He implored the supporters of both the Coalition and other opposition parties, including the APRC, to be tolerant to one another as that is what democracy requires in the new Gambia in order for the concerns and aspirations to be addressed.
“This is a defining moment for Gambia which requires the support and input of every Gambian, irrespective of the party affiliation, ethno linguistic group (tribe), religion, in order to build a solid foundation during this three year transition being promised by the Coalition to herald a genuine democracy and the rule of law,” Mr. Sillah.
The Coordinator told them that this mission is at the instance of President Adama Barrow who is fully aware of it and has provided the resources in terms of transports, fuel, etc. for it to be carried out. All the other Coalition leaders, he added, are in full support of this undertaking.
Alh. Saja Jarjue, a member of the Reconciliation Committee and Coalition Executive, for his part, reiterated the call for tolerance and a peaceful resolution of the problem.
He said tolerance is needed to ensure peaceful co-existence and development, adding that intolerance always leads to regret. “We have to learn to forgive those who offend us for the sake of national unity,” said Mr. Jarjue.
Pa Malick Nyassi, also a member of the Reconciliation Committee, harped on the need for national unity, adding that Gambia cannot forge ahead if the people allow partisan, ethnic and religious considerations to define their relations. He called for tolerance from Coalition supporters, adding “The Coalition is all embracing as it is constituted by different stakeholders from different parties, ethno-linguistic groups and religions.”
Mr. Nyassi said every Gambian must accept the verdict of the majority who elected President Barrow but that the others also have the right to support other parties.
In their response to the calls of the Coalition Reconciliation members, the representatives of the communities of Kanfenda, Burock and Kwinella, who spoke at the meetings, applauded the initiative and reiterated their desire for peace.
They assured their support for peace to prevail at all times and acceptance of unity in diversity.
The speakers included the alkalolu of the three villages namely Lamin Bojang (Kapureng) of Kanfenda, Alh. Dumbuya Colley of Burock and Seyfo Sanyang of Kwinella as well as Badara Sanneh, Demba Sanyang Yaya Sanyang among many other speakers representing women and young people of the respective communities.
The other members of the Coalition Reconciliation Committee include Lamin Ndow, Naffie Secka, Seiney Njie, Phoday Sisawo and Modou Njie of the Coalition Media Team.