Retired General Lang Tombong Tamba has disclosed that the people of Foni are often so much in support of the government of the day that it takes them time before they accept a new government.
“This is why after the change of government in 1994, it took them two years before they could accept the new government of former President Yahya Jammeh,” General Tamba said, adding that a similar scenario presented itself when the Barrow government came to power.
However Tamba, who was speaking at State House Fajara when he and other members of a Foni reconciliation team paid a courtesy call on President Barrow yesterday, assured the President that the people of Foni had no major issues with his government or himself personally but he did share a few concerns.
These included an appeal to drop the charges against the protesters in Kanfenda and Sibanor; reinstatement of those wrongfully dismissed; and access to fertilizers for the farmers. General Tamba assured Mr Barrow that the people of Foni were ready to support him, and urged him to address them.
He further said that being received by the President was indicative of the interest President Barrow has in the people. He also spoke about why reconciliation was necessary, why the efforts had been made to send a message of peace and to call on the people of Foni to support government of the day.
In response President Adama Barrow called on the people of Foni to work together to turn the country around positively. President Barrow assured the reconciliation team that the concerns raised in a report they presented to him would be reviewed. He decried tribalism and commended the group for courageously engaging in dialogue to solve the problem. He said that while citizens had worn their party colours during elections, it was the national colours that took precedence once elections were over.
The President stressed that he would continue to work based on principles and not on personal sentiments. He assured the group of his commitment to The Gambia, without discriminating against any sector or region of the country. President Barrow said Gambians should take pride in the mature manner in which the political impasse had been handled, adding that it had become best practice worthy of emulation across the world. He commended the Foni team for its maturity and said their visit and the spirit in which they came was “a demonstration that we can resolve our own problems.” He told them that while in office, he intended to make best use of his time and he emphasised: “It is not the period you are in office, but what you are able to do during the time you are there that is important. I am convinced that together we can change the colour of Foni. It is part of our country. Remain strong and brave and the truth will remain.”
Presidential Political Adviser Yusupha Cham – who President Barrow had earlier sent on a mission to Foni –thanked the people of Foni for warmly receiving him during his visit. He said the protests there had been unfortunate and were not supported by the majority. Mr Cham noted that the people who spoke when he visited Foni, like those who visited the President yesterday, accepted Mr Barrow as President, and were aware of his family link in Foni. He said that despite the fact that many women support the APRC party, they would want President Barrow to go there and address them. Mr Cham encouraged the reconciliation team to continue their efforts to foster peace in the area.
The efforts to bring peace and reconciliation in Foni have involved many actors, including National Assembly representatives from Foni, the youth of Sibanor, Foni Jarrol, the Peace Ambassadors group and the local authorities from the West Coast Region.