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Monday, September 21, 2020

As Jammeh marks 20yrs in power

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“The justification of July 31st, according to its protagonists, appeared to be a breach of the law to uphold the law. Two years subsequent, President Jammeh transitioned from Chairmanship to the Executive Presidency. 

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The leader of opposition Gambia Moral Congress has said that “after 18 years of bad blood and hostility between the ruling APRC and the opposition, it is time for a seismic shift in relations”. 

Writing in a Standard exclusive, Lawyer Mai Ahmad Fatty stated: “It is time that ruling party and the opposition sit at a table of fraternity to share ideas, at an amicable forum in a truly conventionally Gambian manner. It is in the primordial interest of both sides to do so. There has to be a constructive conversation between both sides; a peaceful, substantive and genuine Gambian family conversation. If the East and West could talk to each other and end the Cold War, why can’t we as brothers and sisters? If the ANC could talk to the criminal, racist Apartheid regime and usher in a rainbow nation, why shouldn’t we talk to each other? If the IRA and the English authorities could make peace, why can’t we talk to each other? If the Americans are talking to the Taliban, who hosted the alleged bombers of 911 and facilitated an embassy for them in Qatar for that purpose, why not us? 

“If the West could be engaged in ongoing intense negotiations with the Iranians to narrow their differences, we in The Gambia should not wait to be urged to dialogue? We are all Gambians, and we are all connected. Our differences, concerns or fears, regardless of how major or minor they may be, can be eased out at a Gambian family political conversation, so as to build the future our children deserve.  The Inter-Party Committee could be effectively structured into a proper permanent framework with a separate secretariat through enabling legislation to facilitate, host and coordinate processes. I would like to be helpful in accelerating the creation such a mechanism from concept to realization, in consultation with all stakeholders.

“Like President Jammeh or some my colleagues in the opposition, I am also a parent. My principal obligation is to help consolidate the foundations of a country of their dreams. President Jammeh and the APRC are not our enemies; neither is the opposition the enemy of the state or the APRC. We are all one, from different branches of a single Gambian tree with one main root. Our divergence is about our different political view points on the type of governance, policies, structures and future this nation require. It’s about the marketing of alternative ideas, not rancor and hostility. Such differences in perspectives regularly occur within families internally. It’s not unusual in other countries too. . I would like to be at the vanguard of such a much needed structured family political consultation. Responding to such a call for a structured national political dialogue among all political parties would enhance President Jammeh’s credential as senior African statesman.  

“After 20 years at the helms, President Jammeh is the most senior head of state in West Africa. His approach to domestic political intercourse and handling of political divergence will also colour his legacy. He would want to be remembered not only for a remarkable legacy of political tolerance to be inherited by his successor and only Allah knows who that individual shall be. Inevitably, his successors in power would have full capacity to influence public perception about his legacy. No one is eternal or indispensable except the Oneness of Allah. As a Muslim, I do not wish any ill for the First Family, and I hope the president would not wish ill for anyone. I would like President Jammeh instead to be remembered for bequeathing a strong economy, strong institutions, a united Gambia with a strong democratic tradition based on respect for the rule of law, to assure perpetual seamless political transition, as a result of free, fair and transparent electioneering and electoral process. If I were President today, this is the legacy that I would wish for myself, and as a Muslim this is my wish for the President. 

“There are three things every leader ought to be mindful of. (1) How you assume power. (2) How you exercise power. (3) How you exit power. Of these three, the second item is the most important. How you exercise power would substantially determine how you exit power. How a leader exits power shall influence what happens after power. After 20 years in power, my wish for President Jammeh if he decides to proceed to life’s next challenges outside the Presidency, is to continue to support and guide the nation here, living among us in dignity and security, as an elder statesman, advising the next dispensation navigate the contours of state power, authority and responsibility. That way, the nation would owe him honour and dignity as a living legend. 

“The opposition should come to the family forum with sincerity and seriousness, bearing in mind that the challenges it face can only be resolved with the active support and partnership of the government. These challenges include reform of the electoral system, implementation of good governance principles, equitable access to information infrastructure, inequitable statutes limiting access to and eligibility for full franchise, campaign funding, etc. It must be recognized that these issues cannot be solved by the opposition without the ruling Party’s effective participation cooperation. That is why I see the APRC as a necessary partner on the march forward. I would like to be instrumental in making this happen.”

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