By Alagie Manneh
Political scientist Dr Ismaila Ceesay has warned that a “bad precedent” will be set in The Gambia’s political history if President Barrow refuses to step down after three years.
“It will be also bad for our democracy and a wrong signal to our young people who want to become politicians because they will believe that it is okay to lie and not fulfil promises,” he told The Standard Bantaba.
Dr Ceesay further disclosed that the issue of three years or five years should not have become a bone of contention in the country.
“It should have been simple and straight forward. You made a three years promise and you came to power, I understand, it can be overwhelming – multiple reform processes ongoing at the same time. It can be difficult for anybody but simply go back and have a word with the people you made the promise to. Tell them I made a promise but allow me to stay on. People are reasonable, but the confrontation and approach was wrong,” he stated.
Dr Ceesay said the country has been thrown into a state of dilemma and warned that the reaction to Barrow’s desire to stay on could backfire.
“For the first time in our history, we are in a serious dilemma. If Barrow refuses to step down, it is bad for our fragile democracy. But if Barrow is forced out through popular uprising, that also sets a very bad precedent for this country, as it is going to reset our democratic culture and a trajectory of presidents not finishing their terms will start here just like it is happening in Guinea Bissau and in other parts of the world.”
Dr Ceesay said the way out of this dilemma is through dialogue.
“Let’s have a dialogue, let’s sit as a country and discuss what we want as Gambians, what kind of Gambia we want, how do we want to move ahead in these difficult times, in this transition from authoritarianism to a democracy.”
Dr Ceesay said this is an opportunity for the country after 54 years of self-perpetuating rule.
“God helped us and gave us an opportunity to remove a government. That is why the spirit of the MoU was that you serve for three years and resign. It is going to be the first time in our political history for a president to serve a short period and resign. It is going to reset our democratic culture and the trend would continue but if we don’t handle it properly and the president is forced out through popular uprising, is going to reset the system and… we are at a cross roads. We need to be careful how we handle this. I think dialogue is important,” he said.
Dr Ceesay also denied ever insulting Barrow and said those people who condemned his remarks directed at the president are today the ones calling Barrow names. “It is hypocrisy,” he stressed.
Read the full Bantaba this Friday