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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Democracy is a messy business

As the saying goes, democracy is a messy business. Gambians chose democracy in place of dictatorship and as a result the nation has to accept it as it is; with all its good and bad.

For twenty-two years Gambians suffered under the heavy burden of dictatorship where their rights to freedom of speech and that of assembly were seized by the dictatorship. The citizens could not at any time express their likes or dislikes as the government did not allow it.

In December 2016, Gambians said enough is enough and went out and voted for change. They anticipated a change of system and were happy to usher in a democracy under the leadership of President Adama Barrow.

However, it seems Gambians are finding out the hard way that democracy is not always a smooth ride. It has hitches and hurdles and the ride may sometimes be bumpy; but, as it is what citizens have chosen, they have to live with it.

Since coming into office, the current government has encountered a lot of hurdles as citizens feel freer to exercise their rights in the new found democracy. There have been a series of protests and demonstrations which has to be acknowledged as their democratic rights.

On several occasions, the police sought to deny a permit to some groups or political parties to protest but ended up yielding and giving it anyway. This shows that the march for a more democratic Gambia is in progress, even if some citizens see it as slow.

Sunday, the Three Years Jotna protest went underway but shortly after its commencement problems began to emerge as they argued with the police as to where it should be held. Due to some communication lapses between the leadership of the Three Years Jotna Movement and its rank and file, a standoff ensued which ultimately caused the police to cancel the permit.

We all know the ugly scenes thatfollowed.

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