Fellow Gambians, regardless of any party or politician one supports, the time to stand up to defend democracy is higher today than ever. Because of our ignorance, dishonesty, indifference, and lethargy hence our silence and apathy we gave fertile grounds for the growth and development of dictatorship from 1994 to 2016. The price we paid for our dishonesty, ignorance and indifference is all too clear to us.
Today, we are seeing the same scenario repeating itself and we have no one to blame but ourselves. If the emergence of dictatorship took us by surprise yesterday, today we cannot claim the same excuse.
On 15 August 2021 the President unambiguously and directly and specifically stated in a public event at State House that come December 4th, if he wins the election, he will close down political activity. To strengthen that resolve, he said he will ask the IGP to not issue any permits to anyone for political activity. That statement by the President is the greatest threat posed to our democracy and Republic. It is a direct violation of the Constitution for which he should have faced impeachment if The Gambia was a normal country!
Effectively, the President intends to turn The Gambia into a one-party state under a tyranny never seen before. This is because when you deny every citizen and every political party to freely and openly participate in the affairs of the country, it means only the President will be left to engage in political activity together with those who support him. That’s the definition of a one-party state!
President Adama Barrow wants to bring back that Yaya Jammeh style of governance where only he and his party engage and participate. In that system, there will be many parties but they conduct politics at a cost to their lives and limbs. It means any citizen who wishes to hold the Government accountable does so at his or her own peril. In other words, the country will be claimed to be a democracy but in fact it is a one-party authoritarian state as we had under that Tinpot Dictator. Resist.
The press release issued by his Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh has given us enough information that indeed the President intends to close this country down. Read the last paragraph of that press release to see the true intention of the President and his Government. They are now saying that they will go to the National Assembly to create a law to effectively close down or control social media. This is what the press release ends with,
“Working with the National Assembly, The President hopes to eventually come up with legislation to bring a lasting solution to the abuse and insults innocent citizens are subjected to daily on social media platforms.”
The threat against social media has been ongoing since this Government took over. In 2019, the Government attempted to introduce insult laws only to back down after public outcry. Insult laws are undemocratic and against freedom of expression. This is because, unpleasant as insults are, they are also subject to interpretation hence anyone can use any set of words to claim it to be an insult. Where such laws exist, governments use it to stifle the right of citizens to participate in political activity and undermine transparency and accountability. Tyrannical and colonial regimes are the only entities that entertain insult laws which is a cover to protect them against public scrutiny.
Furthermore, remember that if you control, limit or close down social media then it means you are attacking free speech. It also means you are attacking free and independent media. It also means you are attacking freedom of assembly and the rest of our fundamental freedoms.
I am very worried, scared, concerned, angry and disturbed at the idea of controlling social media. This is the only marketplace where citizens have to express themselves hence participate, influence and determine the political life of their communities and country. If you close this space then it means popular participation, transparency and accountability are dead hence corruption, ineptitude, abuse and violations will go unnoticed and unchallenged.
If indeed the President’s concern was only about the insults spewed from mainly political opponents, then the President should be the first to address his supporters to stop insulting. NPP and Barrow supporters in general are among the leading insulters in the country. But the President has never stopped or suspended or expelled any supporter because of insults. Therefore it is false to claim that the President is concerned about insults on social media.
Therefore, all Gambians must now recognize that President Adama Barrow poses a clear and present danger to democracy and the peace and stability of the Republic. The President is the leading threat to human rights contrary to his oath of office and the Constitution.
Citizens must be ready to stop him. Let us not allow party politics, tribalism, indifference and other sectarian considerations make us ignore the national threat we face from none other than the President himself. This President wants to turn this country into a dictatorship. All citizens have a historic and constitutional right and duty to resist that. 100%.
Stand up against Tyranny! Defend Democracy.
For The Gambia Our Homeland