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Monday, September 28, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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2018: challenges in global politics
Dear editor,
Challenges await global leaders and Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general in global politics affecting millions. Between a global Trumpism, refugee crisis, climate change, North Korea’s nuclear program and Kim Jong-Un phenomenon, conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, elsewhere, and a slew of internal scandals, already had some daunting global challenges on their plate.

Guterres, who as high commissioner for refugees made a point of urging wealthy countries to do more to help migrants and refugees and has promised to do so as secretary-general as well, can’t be encouraged by Trump’s views on the crisis.

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And U.N. high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, responding to Trump’s comments on barring Muslims from entering the U.S., deporting immigrants, and using torture, said during the campaign that Trump’s election posed a danger to global stability and the refugee situation around the world has been overwhelming, heart-wrenching, and those who’ve had the guns and bombs to sell and launch are still comfortably ruling the world. I’ve been weary and suspicious of “conflict management”, as an academic pursuit, as policy, and as practice.

Managing crisis implies keeping war going tolerably, which has been the case, since it’s greatly profitable. If anyone cares to end wars, one needs the superior skills of whispering to greedy, ravenous and rabid hyenas that will think you foolish to jump into their den in the first place.
You will come out without a leg, perhaps without your life, but someone needs to go into those dens, not just to manage the destruction that comes out of them from a profitable distance. We need war-whisperers to ease the pain and damage done to humanity. I’m not talking about men and women who wear uniform to go to war for God and Country.

I’m talking about fearless peacemakers who understand the war machine and dare to confront it with the power of their knowledge and moral authority. Go into those dens, you war-whisperers.
Is there any cause for optimism? Guterres, who as the former prime minister of Portugal is the first former national leader to hold the U.N.’s top job, is coming in with an ambitious reform agenda, pledging to revamp the organisation’s budget rules and regulations to make it more efficient and accountable. Perhaps he could use America’s renewed threats to defund the U.N. as impetus to push these reforms through, while keeping the Trump administration engaged in, or at the very least indifferent to, the U.N.’s operations. For all the problems on his desk, this may prove to be the new secretary-general’s toughest challenge.

Alagie Yorro Jallow
New York City

Re: APRC country-wide tour
Dear editor,
As the remorseless APRC struggle to rebrand itself, it is important to remind fellow Gambians about the traumatic social, economic and political scar left on the citizenry by this party during the administration of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. Let’s take a look at some of these toxic experiences.
Political differences and affiliations were always part of our societies. People in the same household, families and communities could belong to and even vote for different political parties and still maintained respect, unity, harmony and trust between and among themselves.

But, the advent of APRC has taken on a dangerously bizarre, intimidating, divisive and violent political approaches, causing nightmares, suspicions and devastation in the entire country.
Under APRC, family members were turned against each other, communities divided and revered traditional values holding societies together utterly disrespected along political lines.
For example, village alkaloship that used to be the exclusive hierarchical domain for original settlers were replaced with blind partisan loyalty leading to relationships steeped in bad blood and mistrust and those who wished to hold onto these positions must prove their unflinching support to APRC and President Jammeh by any and all means necessary.

We have all witnessed or heard of rice and other food items being distributed in villages, towns and cities among only APRC supporters, leaving out the rest as if they didn’t matter. Tractors, power tillers and fertilisers that were purchased with public funds in the guise of supporting agricultural mechanisation efforts were only handed over to APRC supporters across the country as gifts from President Jammeh in appreciation of their work for the party. These beneficiaries, who were mostly identified by APRC regional and local structures, included regional governors, Chiefs, National Assembly members and Yai Compins.

APRC party had never shied away from orchestrating pre election intimidation and post election violence against opposition members during its 22 years in power. Defunct July 22 Youth Movement turned Green Boys played active roles in provoking, beating and forcibly dispersing opposition gatherings. Wave of arrest, sacking, demotion and redeployment of civil servants and members of security service who were believed to be either opposition sympathisers or had their relatives in opposition followed every election cycle. Most Gambians lost their legitimate earnings, personal security and liberty for absolutely nothing other than holding different political views in 22 years under APRC than at any time in our political history.

I was hoping that APRC would use this tour to reconnect and apologise to Gambians for the terrible experience endured in the last 22 years. Instead, the party has taken up an even provocative posture by demanding the return of their exiled party leader and former president Jammeh devoid of accountability in a classic case of insensitivity and insanity. This solidly confirms that APRC is a party that is all about fighting for Yahya Jammeh alone and those fighting for the cause of Yahya Jammeh. Anyone and anything outside of this realm does not matter.

By every measure, APRC is a party that broadly epitomises the darkest chapter in our country’s history and is a representative of fear, division, intimidation and repression which should not be forgotten so soon.
To fellow Gambians: irrespective of your dissatisfaction or support for the current government of President Barrow, please note that opposing APRC party remains legally and morally imperative that should not be lost on anyone. The party is still operating on the principles and ideologies of former President Jammeh on whose orders, direct knowledge and complicity our fellow citizens were murdered, jailed, tortured, raped and exiled.
Thus, the urgency of now involves seeking justice for Jammeh’s many victims and recovering stolen funds while getting our country on credible democratic and governing pathway. This is not the time for pandering to APRC misinformation, distortion, provocation and cynical propaganda. Let us not forget that!
Zakaria Kemo Konteh
Queens, USA

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