By Omar Bah
Operation No To Tribal Insults and Tribalism, a non-partisan movement formed by Gambians from all walks of life, has requested a private bill to criminalise all forms of insults against tribes.
“We want to formally appeal to the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency assist us with a Private Member Bill that will criminalise all forms of tribal insults,” the movement’s chairman Kebba Ceesay, told The Standard.
Mr Ceesay, who has been at the forefront of the advocacy, said the movement will demand “a punishment equal to that of treason for anyone found wanting.”
“We have received a lot of calls from different lawyers since the recent audio insulting the Wollof tribe was released and all the lawyers appealed to us to seek a legal provision dealing with all forms of tribal insults,” he said.
He called on Gambians not to sit and watch a few bad elements in society ruin the peace and stability the country is known for.
Mr Ceesay reminded Gambians that it was this kind of ethnic hatred that in just 100 days in 1994, about 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists.
“That should serve as an example to all African countries- that tribalism should not be entertained under any circumstances.
“We are not going to sit and watch this country fall victim to what happened in Rwanda. It is not going to happen here; anyone who cannot live with other tribes in this country can peacefully pack their bags and leave because after all, we all have origins,” he said.
Ceesay went on: “We condemn all forms of tribal radicalism and we urge all Gambians to maintain restraint and ensure that all forms of tribal sentiments are put to a stop.”
He said the movement has recorded the names and numbers of all those who have recently recorded audios to insult tribes.
“We are going to take action against them. We urge all Gambians to ignore all politicians who campaign based on tribes,” he said.
Ceesay urged the Gambia Armed Forces and all the country’s security forces to rally together and ensure that there is a maximum security before, during, and after the December presidential election.
Ceesay also warned all non-Gambians to stay away from the country’s internal affairs.
“We appeal to all foreigners not to take part in our elections. If you are a businessman who has been living here for years in peace, please don’t allow any politician to tempt you to take part in our electoral process,” he said.