Fifty one years ago, on 18 February 1965, The Gambia was declared an independent state, a national flag was hoisted, a national anthem was composed, a prime minister was appointed by the Governor representing the Queen of the United Kingdom and Bills passed by the House of Representatives had to be assented to by the Governor. This means that national sovereignty was limited.
On 24 April 1970, The Gambia was declared a Republic with a President who assented to Bills passed by the House of Representatives. The first phase of national liberation was now completed. The state was sovereign but the people were not. The 1997 Constitution stipulates that sovereignty resides in the people from whom all organs of government derive their authority, but the people are yet to be sovereign. The second phase of national liberation when the people become sovereign is yet to be attained.
If any citizen can be arrested and detained incommunicado at will for months or years against their will while their families being gripped by fear or swallow their pride lock themselves to lament it within the four corners of their rooms, can we talk about a free and liberated Gambia? Can such people claim to own themselves or their country? If a professionally trained public servant can be removed from office without due process and all he/she can do is to grumble in a ‘safe corner’, can it not be said that his/her rights have been violated and the rule of law has been disregarded? If a government rules by might and shows no regard for the constitution is that not impunity?
The Gambian people need to build a new Gambia owned and driven by the people to attain a life of liberty, dignity and prosperity; a third secular democratic republic ushering in the sovereignty of the people.