By Omar Bah
For the first time since the debate as to whether he should serve three years as agreed by his coalition partners or a full five-year term as mandated by the constitution, President Adama Barrow has hinted that he may be around for some time.
Speaking to TRT World, a Turkish news agency during his recent visit to Turkey, President Barrow said even five years may not be enough for his government to bring all the needed reforms.
“I am not saying that I am going for second term, but I can say that even five years is not enough. The campaign promises should not be used as a yardstick to pass judgment on politicians. I never knew that the Gambia under Jammeh was that bankrupt economically,” he told TRT world.
He continued: “If you are campaigning you ay all sort of things, but if you get to office, you will get the reality. I never thought that the Gambia had less than one month import cover. I never thought that The Gambia is looted to that level. Even the crime rate, I never thought it is to that level. But when you get to the office, you will face reality.”
The President said they have realised that there is a mountain to climb. “But one thing is certain we want to build a strong foundation for the country. We want that to be part of our legacy, so that others who would come after us, will not feel the same as we are affected today,” he said.
On whether he will support Jammeh’s extradition, President Barrow refused to be drawn into making any conclusion and instead he referred the interviewer to the TRRC, which he said will get to the bottom of all that has transpired for the past 22 years.
On the recent arrest of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay of the University of The Gambia, President Barrow said the police have the right to arrest anyone as far as the maintenance of the law is concerned. He said Dr. Ceesay is not above the law, and that the police were merely executing their constitutional mandate.
“I don’t want to take it personal. On principle, it is a very difficult situation. We are very concern about our security situation. As we speak, we still have foreign troops in the country who had to intervene during the impasse. We will not want people to incite violence; to make stories that will bring us back to Jammeh’s era. You have the right to your opinion. We believe in that, but you have to be careful and take responsibility,” he said.
“I think it is the right of the police to question anybody, if it is within the law; 72 hours to question anybody to find out what is the information all about as far as you are talking about security. I think this is within the law,” he said.
“Nobody is above the law. I think if you look at TV these days, the police are enquiring about the prime minister in Israel. He is the prime minister, but he is not above the law. So, no one is above the law. We want to work within the law. The police can question anyone at least for a duration of 72 hours.”
On his relationship with the military which he has not yet visited, Barrow said: “Well, why single out the military alone? I did not visit the police; I didn’t visit the customs; they generate our income; I didn’t visit them; I didn’t even visit the Vice President’s office; why the army? Why? That’s what I am asking. Why single out the military? They are part of the system; they are part of the Gambia; they are part of the government; they are as important as other institutions; I didn’t visit any institution,” President Barrow remarked.