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Monday, March 8, 2021

Letters: The case for 5 years as opposed to 3 years

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Dear editor,

I had from the get-go always stuck with the three-year deal.

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It wasn’t a popular decision then.

The three-year crew was a lonely one.

But for a few of us, nobody was hammering at and yammering on about the three-year stint. All this noise is one of recent making.

I, on the other hand, went through a change of heart.

I went back to the drawing board.

The five-year-term is the better route.

I have always had my reasons and I have articulated them times without number.

My change of heart began early on, when it looked like there was no paper trail in pursuance of a so-called Coalition Agreement.

The UDP leader Ousainou Darboe had once demurred on this supposed agreement.

He asked, in a rather cynical way, to be shown this agreement with the signatures of all the participants.

I remember being upset at Darboe for attempting to pour scorn on an agreement that was supposedly conceived and legally entered into.

My anger was misplaced.

It has turned out that there is no paper trail, there is no document kept under lock and key, there is no frame of reference for any future disposition on this matter.

What we have been presented with, and what has passed for a so-called agreement, is the embarrassing specter of a few heads sitting around and engaging in loose talk over a nation’s sojourn from dictatorship.

Mai Fatty said they did talk about a three-year deal but they also deferred to a later time for more conclusive talks and a binding agreement.

That never happened.

Perhaps the euphoria of unexpected victory against Jammeh, and by a wafer-thin percentage, took the better of them.

They were at once blinkered and distracted.

The blame goes to these coalition leaders, who had no business flirting with an idea as dangerously lousy as three years for a constitutionally-mandated five-year run.

There was no rationality to that decision, which was both foolish and impractical.

If the coalition leaders wanted to bring an equilibrium on the electoral scene for the next elections, all they had to do was agree on a single five-year term for Barrow and make it legally binding by involving the electoral body and the electorate.

I have gone back to the 2016 elections campaign and listened to the speeches, but I have not heard yet where the coalition leaders mentioned the three-year deal as a campaign selling item to the electorate.

If there was any salesmanship on this issue, then it was a poor one indeed.

I can’t remember hearing about it.

The whole three-year thing has been more fluke than substance.

It’s neither here nor there.

I cannot allow the loose banter of a few unthinking heads be the guidepost for my country’s democratic future.

There is a better way.

It’s the democratic way.

The voters.

Their decision.

Their say.
Some of them voted for the three years and some of them also voted for the five years.

How do you solve this quandary?
The ballot box is the only way.

By all indications, Barrow had also loosely agreed to this three-year deal during their early talks.

If he goes back on his premature word, then he becomes morally reprehensible. And he should be punished via the ballot box.

And get this: Barrow has been a lousy leader, not my kind of leader.

But for back room deals, he would never have been selected as the coalition leader.

Halifa Sallah would have been the right candidate.

The auspiciousness of the moment and the challenges of a post-dictatorship needed somebody like Mr Sallah be the custodian of our nation’s affairs.

To get back to the point, Barrow’s fate should be decided through the ballot box.

The Gambian voters are the architects of their own electoral mess and it’s they alone who will solve this mess.

The democratic process mustn’t be scuttled for expediency or by way of short-term fixes —- an unelected person (who?) to serve Barrow’s last two-year term is both bogus and undemocratic. And that is likely to open another Pandora’s box of monumental political problems.

So: let Barrow’s anemic governance run its fated cycle. And let the Gambian voters be allowed another chance to get their act together and get it right, this time. Prayerfully.”

Cherno Baba Jallow

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