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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Letters: The presidency is a position of dignity and honour

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Dear editor,

I am particularly concerned about the frequent and consistent empty, false and demeaning free talk that always comes out the mouth of the President. Not only are his comments irresponsible but more seriously, the President is notorious for releasing comments that are utterly false and disgracefully demeaning to the reputation and dignity of the Office of the President, and the nation as a whole.

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The Office of the President is an embodiment of the collective dignity, will and power of the people of The Gambia. That office represents Gambians hence anyone who occupies that office must always demonstrate an attitude, in words and actions that manifests and strengthens our values, standards and honour. This is why one of the grounds of impeachment of the President is when he misconducts himself in a manner that, “brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute.” This is why the President should check his words and actions before he acts.

Mere dictionary meaning of ‘disrepute’ is “the state of being held in low esteem by the public.” Contempt, on the other hand means the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration. Embedded in these words are disrespect, disregard or neglect of sacred values, or abuse of the rule of law or disregard of the basic tenets of civilized behavior.

This is why, having recognized the dignity and sanctity of citizens and the Republic, the Constitution did not want the highest office of the land to be a place of disrespect and calumny. The Constitution does not want citizens and the rest of the world to look low upon our President and that high office. But this is precisely what Barrow has caused onto himself and the office he occupies! Look at how everyone is jeering at him!!!

Therefore the Office of the President is a position of honour and whoever occupies it should be a person of honour who should speak and act in an honourable manner with decency, truth, honesty and in line with the law at all times. The President should be a person who exhibits the highest and noblest Gambian and humanistic values and norms.

The President should serve as a standard and a role model for good behavior and patriotism to be emulated by our children and the rest of society. The President should always act and speak in a manner that generates respect, tolerance, justice and patriotism on the land and in the people.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, the President, Adama Barrow has spoken in ways that caricature political opponents, activists, intellectuals, journalists and ordinary citizens. He has used language that is divisive thus further polarizing the society. He has allowed his meetings and rallies to be platforms where his supporters would insult opponents and ridicule citizens who seek to hold him accountable.

Yet the President would neither stop his supporters from insulting others or dissociate himself and his party from those individuals and their nasty comments. In fact media platforms linked to the President would further share those nasty comments as if they do not realize the harm and the unGambian-ness of those comments.

Yes, many people belonging to other political parties or even not connected to any party do also engage in insults and political intolerance. We are yet to see any political party or leader call out a supporter for bad behavior and even sanction such perpetrators. Just like the President, many of our political parties and leaders are also notorious for not doing anything meaningful to confront politics of intolerance and insults.

But the President is the number one person who bears the primary obligation to ensure decent politics in the country. Pres. Barrow has both a legal and political obligation to unify and pacify our society. This responsibility is founded in his oath of office and the Constitution and in our political system as a democratic republic. The oath says the President will defend the Constitution without favour or ill will hence to ensure freedom, equality and justice for all Gambians, regardless.

The recent comments by the President that he climbed a tree as tall as 500 metres and that he was part of individuals who placed charms under the head of corpses are indeed unbecoming of a President. These comments do not only show outright lies but are also criminal.

There’s no tree that is as tall as 500 metres. The tallest tree recorded so far on earth is 116 metres at most. Certainly there’s no tree in The Gambia that could be above even 50 metres simply because The Gambia does not have any virgin rainforests where such trees exist!

Secondly, for anyone to go to a cemetery to open graves in order to reach out to a buried corpse to place any material under its head is criminal. The laws of The Gambia criminalize desecration of cemeteries and therefore it is necessary that the IGP opens investigations into this matter since one of the perpetrators has openly confessed to the crime.

President Barrow must be advised, if not contained to realise that the Office of the President is the sole property of the people of The Gambia. No matter how much he wishes to occupy and remain in that office, he should not engage in words and actions that undermine the Constitution and the dignity and sovereignty of citizens. His advisors must tell him to be measured when he speaks publicly simply because he is the President.

The office he occupies is an honourable place and this is why he is referred to ‘His Excellency’. It is not that there is anything excellent in the person of Adama Barrow, rather it is that high office which is honoured with that title on behalf of the people. Even when he leaves office, the honour of ‘His Excellency’ goes with him since he once occupied the people’s highest office. So let Adama Barrow humble himself down and learn to respect that high office by speaking with decorum and in truth and sanity.

Madi Jobarteh

Kembujeh

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