By Rohey Jadama
We attended certain sessions where people who were trying to bring parties together mentioned those things and we had to suppress them because we know people have the maturity to know what happens. When you repeatedly repeat something it becomes the truth.
Anything that you repeatedly repeat until it is embedded in the minds of the people that becomes the truth. If people believe that we are heading towards war, that Gambia is at war, society will be divided. That was suppressed, instead getting to confront an armed force with empty hands strategically prepared not to lose power because it knew the implication of losing power. He has come face to face after accepting that power belongs to you, few days that power has come face to face with what is meant by powerlessness and could not reconcile to that.
He therefore decided to take the last chance. We utilized our maturity to know that Politics is about tactics and therefore, the correct tactics have to be adopted and the correct tactic is that a winner of an election should not go and protest, a winner of an election should jubilate.
If that winner is told by the constitution that election must take place within three months before the end of term of the incumbent then that winner must know that even though election has taken place the incumbent’s term has not expired then it will be the duty of that incumbent to read the constitution to find out legally when the term of office of the incumbent will expire. This should determine the beginning of his term and then tell the people to wait for that day, we will be in power that is what the constitution says and nobody can prevent that.
That is what sharp minds within seconds and minutes and hours determine and make a policy and it became a policy and we had to believe it because that was the truth, the fact, the constitution and the fact of the constitution is the truth of the republic; it has to be believed and it had to be shown, every media outlet had to be utilized to make that truth the truth of the nation; that was the tactic that’s why we did not rest until every Gambian believed that; even the president believed that and he believed it”.
According to him that is why they (APRC) had to rush to the National Assembly to have a state of emergency because he (Jammeh) believed that on the 19 he will be an illegal power and he will be a rebel. He believed that we made him to believe it, everybody believed it, otherwise he would rely on his power alone. Why will he go to the National Assembly? He will wait till on the 19 ‘I will do what I want’.
This was The Gambia, so when that happened ECOWAS also came, meaning that Gambia was heading to conflict. They came and were surprised that they found Gambia in peace. They were surprised that they found a coalition at peace with itself, they asked and the facts were told that he annulled election but he had no right to do so. Yes we demystified him, yes he annulled election is just simply chaff in the wind that’s how we treated it. People feared that this powerful person has annulled the election, we said it is chaff in the wind, “Go about your business, give whatever you can to soldiers in the street, fraternize with them.” We demystified it, that’s tactic, it was real, that myth was there because the soldiers were there, they were a killing machine but we demystified it. We refused to accept, that was power, the power that removed him from office. We refused to believe in this power. He had that power because people gave it to him, now he had lost it, so we told ECOWAS precisely that. We told them on the 19 he (Barrow) will take power, support us under this, what he does with the soldiers now he has every right to do so because it is his term, we don’t want to be bothered, we are not calling on anyone, nobody should rise up, let’s wait till the 19, this is what happened .
“Where were the political parties individually at that moment? Which was the most powerful of them at that moment? What did it do to liberate us at that moment? Why were we not saved by our saviours at that moment? That’s when we needed them most the powerful political parties to tell us forget about coalition, forget about this, we are the most powerful we’ll get rid of that person because victory has been won. When that victory was won and he called to surrender we started discussion and there was liaison between the coalition and the incumbent. We started making our demands, free the prisoners they did; and we were coming more and more for them to do more things during his transition only for the incumbent to turn back and close the doors.
ECOWAS agreed with us and went back, prepared a stand by force. The incumbent said “you are preparing for war” and it was waiting for ECOWAS to say we are going to attack you and then under the constitution he can declare a state of emergency. We told ECOWAS “don’t make a mistake, we are not asking you to do anything before the 19”. We interpreted our constitution to them, they became smart and also issued another communique that ‘We are not talking about attacking you, we are for mediation’.
We know our country and we are teaching others and that’s why they respect us. Freedom was not a gift for the Gambian people, we earned it and that’s why they were ready to do anything. ECOWAS was convinced. Ellen Jonhson -Sirleaf was convinced and called the president elect frequently because she was convinced and ready to do anything to ensure that your power is respected by every single Gambian, that no individual power can have itself over the collective power of sovereign Gambian people ‘.
Consequently he said they continued the negotiation, the incumbent knowing that the 19 was closed decided to declare a state of emergency . What was the response? We read the constitution we knew what should happen on a state of emergency they just declared it but we knew that they didn’t mean it because if they really meant it section 35 would have been implemented by curtailing on fundamental rights and freedoms; that would have been an Act of the National Assembly but there too we came with a technique because section 35 would have enabled them to implement the state of emergency by curtailing on our freedoms enact an Act that will introduce curfew that will make it impossible for anybody to do anything. But by reading the constitution, understanding it and they were not implementing section 35 we knew that they were weak that the enactment was just meant to prolong the power beyond 19 January so that it will appear that his power was still legitimate.
We won the battle, we started to think that the constitution is supreme and this individual power was no longer sufficient for him to rely on to maintain power in The Gambia. But again the technique was telling him that under section 100 no one can come up with an Act of Parliament which would have been an Act of Parliament to curtail on rights. No one could curtail any right that was already acquired. Therefore, the president elect Barrow was there, nobody could violate it, it was inviolable, the state of emergency was disregarded , his power was disregarded, he had to leave on the 19th.
19th got close, internal negotiation had started with the police , with members of the Armed forces and his ministers and ambassadors jumping ship by the day and by seconds, many people thought that it was not happening, no actions were being taken underground by people with credibility, people you could believe and they gave their words because they knew that on the 19th standby forces of ECOWAS were there, this was not child’s play this was real.
It was a mission that ECOWAS prepared for, knowing that they were defending the powers of the people, so consequently they were all alert with the promise of change and we the custodian of change with realities of The Gambia could tell the outside community that the incumbent was left with two options suicide or to agree on negotiation even though the embassies didn’t believe that, that’s why their citizens left, everybody was watching Gambia from the outside but we were in control in The Gambia, we know, and ultimately the negotiation continued and what convinced everybody is that the incumbent had lost, that Gambia carried out the most advanced peaceful revolution in human history, without war, without any plan, it is just everybody thinking the same way, because all were guided by one fact, on the 19th legitimate power will be established in the Gambia.
People went to their homes, schools closed down, work places closed down, ministers departed, Ambassadors departed; he was lonely and he finally accepted the best option, that is to leave. President Barrow was staying in Dakar, the incumbent was no longer in control, he was the Ex-President, he left and I remembered many coalition members calling me saying rush to the airport because our coalition supporters are hindering the exit of Ex-President Jammeh. He was no longer president when he was leaving, which means that he no longer believes that he was the president, the military did not believe that he was the president to a point that they could not do anything to the supporters of the coalition, that they are now asking coalition leaders to go and guide our supporters not to hinder the exit of the president.
So the analysis is correct he had no one, he knew he had no one he was just waiting there for people to believe that he had someone when he knows that he has no one. Because they were hindering his exit he had no power, the military were not under his control; that is the scientific fact so in essence Gambians carried out their revolution there was no ECOWAS troops here they were at the borders preparing their aircrafts, naval vessels, they were ready and the countdown was minutes, hours nobody could tell you whether the war would not take place. The history is yet to be told and this is not the time to tell it. It is just giving you a gist and then come to the conclusion. Jammeh’s absence was properly handled, the country properly managed, properly stabilized.
For us our work is done, a new Gambia has been born. What we have is a transitional government. We believe that policy is what determines a government. Go and ask every member of the coalition what we have contributed to making of the government. We have already done what we are supposed to do, what is left is implementation.
We have done everything we could and now the ball is on your court because all these national Assembly Members are going to come before you review them. Forget about the party, tag look at the National Assembly members whom you believe if you vote for when they go to National Assembly they will not be under the dictates of their party leaders and parties but what will be national interest they will do vote for those persons because section 112 of the constitution states that National Assembly Members should be bound by the dictates, conscience and national interest, not the dictates of personal interest; that is in the constitution, go and read it so whoever tells you a National Assembly Member is going to favour this coalition then he is telling you go and elect a robot, a person who will be micromanaged .
I wish to conclude that Gambia is battling for its destiny and each of us is sovereign. Who will imagine that you will wake up in the morning, join the queue, take your ballot token and drop it secretly in a ballot box, go back home, the following day you see on TV the most powerful president in the Gambia making a telephone call that ‘I have accepted defeat and l am willing to cooperate with you to hand over power to you’. That is the fear of liberation which has never happened. Gambia has never changed through a ballot box. We used to say there are two powers in a country, the power of the people and the power of the state but that day it became evident. The power of the people is dominant.