By Lamin Cham
The much talked-about 3 Years Jotna Movement, a group which vowed to demonstrate against any attempt by President Barrow to cling on to power after the 3 years agreed by the Coalition, has stated that Gambians need not fear the group or its planned activities.
Gambians at home and abroad have expressed anxiety over the planned activities of the group in the run-up to the expiry of the three years agreed in the MoU.
With President Barrow declaring his intention to complete a full five-year term, people are worried that a confrontation is looming which could affect peace and economic stability of the Gambia.
Contacted over the weekend about these concerns, Matar Ceesay, an executive member of the group, said there is no cause for alarm as far as their movement is concerned.
”Whereas we will not accept any attempt to seize our right to protest, we shall do it in the most peaceful manner you can imagine. All what we will do is to protest in large numbers to show the coalition government and President Barrow that it is wrong to lie to the people, betray their trust and continue to claim legitimacy by hiding behind a constitution which did not say a president cannot resign.
We believe that taking sanctuary in the constitution as an excuse to prolong his power is deceitful and sign of a power-hungry leader who is abusing the incumbency by corrupting the minds of Gambians and dragging them back to the self-perpetuating style of ex- president Jammeh. This is what we are going to protest against and that’s all.
No one needs to fear us. In fact we don’t have the wherewithal to cause violence. We have no guns, no explosives, not even a toy weapon. All what we have is our placards. If there is any violence, and God forbid, then it can only come from the government which has been threatening people with hot water cannons and guns,” Mr Ceesay told The Standard.
Asked if a solution cannot be found in a dialogue instead of protests, Mr Ceesay said his movement is open to dialogue but only with political parties and other groups who are interested in national dialogue and not a partisan political agenda. “Certainly we are not interested in talking to President Barrow or agents representing his agenda because he has not shown any serious intention to talk about this issue,” Mr Ceesay said.
Asked when and where they intend to hold these protests, Mr Ceesay said the operational plan of the movement will be disclosed to the public at the right time. “There is nothing to hide. After all we are going to state it in the application for permit to the police. We are a lawful organisation. We have no clandestine intention or plan. All these nefarious propagandas against us are coming from people with intention to perpetuate President Barrow in power without regard to national interest and morality,” he said.
Asked if they are guaranteed to secure a permit, Mr Ceesay said it is in the best interest of the authorities to issue them a permit because that is the only way to maintain order and prevent chaos in a democracy. “In any case they have never denied us permit in all our activities and we don’t at all expect we will be denied. That is out of it,” Mr Ceesay said.
Asked to comment on recent social media reports that two of their key members Sheriff Ceesay and a person known by the name KingSport have been expelled, Mr Ceesay said that is not true. “No one can expel anybody from the movement without due process. I told you we are a serious group who are even trying to convince Gambians to see issues in the same nature and non partisan way we want. Both Mr Ceesay and KingSport continue to be full members of the group,” he said.
Asked to disclose the identity of KingSport, Mr Ceesay said the person is very well known by that name well before the movement was formed and he preferred to be called that name.
“We respect his wish to be called that name,” Ceesay concluded.