It has become a major debate these days as to whether APRC supporters and sympathisers should be given permit by the government through the Office of the Inspector General of Police to celebrate what they dubbed a ‘revolution’ staged by their Godfather on a fateful Friday morning which saw the unconstitutional and undemocratic ousting of a constitutionally and democratically installed government. An unconstitutional and undemocratic ruling council with the term ‘provisional’ attached to its nomenclature was installed, giving birth to a civilian style military dictatorship that I refer to as the ‘illegitimate child’.
Today, many Gambians, specifically those that witnessed this day and welcomed and supported the coup, have themselves to be blamed for they had legalised or moralised what is illegal and immoral to democracy. Many went out that fateful Friday to show solidarity to the bandits who hijacked our politics and raped our democracy in the early hours of Friday.
Again, they did not stop there but went on to vote and approved a draconian constitution called the 1997 Constitution which itself approved and endorsed the military coup as stated, ‘The sovereign people of the Gambia therefore endorsed the change of government on 22nd July 1994 to rectify such evils’. My message therefore to those that welcomed the 1994 coup by either going out to join the celebration or advocated or voted for such an evil constitution with its miserable laws is that, you all owe public apology to the Gambia.
You all, especially the so-called educated ones who knew what was in the then proposed constitution, have betrayed the nation, and the current and unborn generations of Gambians will not forgive you for inflicting pain on their rights and integrity without a public apology. Mr. President if you yourself have supported the 1994 coup or voted for the ‘YES’ camp in the referendum that gave birth to this constitution, I call on you to come out and confess and publicly apologise to the nation. Let it be call ‘Moment of Confession and Public Apology’ (MoCPA) in the name of healing the wounds of the 22 years of dictatorship characterized by killing, torture, maiming, disappearance, rape and economic and social hardships.
The Independence Stadium will be a good venue for this and the right day is Saturday 22nd July 2017. Instead of allowing APRC surrogates to celebrate this day, this is the event we should organise and even call on the APRC supporters and sympathisers to come join us in this event and defy what their Godfather did.
Mr. President, we have seen ‘democrats’ rising up claiming to be the defenders of democracy and human rights including freedom to assemble as enshrined in our constitution, that the APRC has the right to celebrate this day. Others claim that the party has to be first banned and not to stop them from celebrating. It is important that we differentiate two groups here: the AFPRC and the APRC. The former was a gang of military bandits who raped our democracy in a broad day light while the latter is a gang of civilian bandits arguably, calling itself a political organization that has ‘brought major developments’ in this country in the past two decades.
We must first be clear to ourselves that military coup in itself is illegal anywhere, as a result decent human beings in their rights senses cannot welcome and celebrate such. Let me give an example from a moral context at societal level even though some will argue that there is no morality in politics which I have a problem with. Having a child outside wedlock is considered immoral in our typical African set up, especially Gambia. Since it is immoral, a girl or woman who is a victim of such feels shy to go out and after giving birth, a decent family will just secretly organise a very low-keyed ceremony call ‘kung mutoo/Too tuputupo’ or ‘waat’ in Mandinka and Wollof terms respectively. This is because of the shame the girl or woman has brought to the family and society as a whole. Now contrary to this, when a girl is married and gives birth, the family and society openly celebrate the birth with prayers for the child. Mr President, it is the same way that a military coup cannot be celebrated as the AFPRC (the coup) is the illegitimate child, Jammeh the father and Gambia the mother.
Certainly as an existing political party, the APRC can apply for permit to hold political rallies and mark other events, indeed undeniable but not the birth of an illegitimate child. When one talks about the freedom to assemble as a right in our constitution, let us also be aware that, such a right has to be exercised within the context of the law and military coup is a violation of our constitution. It will indeed be very ironical for a country to illegalise an act yet allow people to celebrate the same act.
To those that argue that since the December 30th attackers (coup plotters) are being reinstated in the army, do not compare the incomparable. The December 30th attackers were pardoned by the president in accordance with his constitutional powers to pardon prisoners and allowing them back into the system is his choice. Even Jammeh has pardoned coup plotters (Lang Tombong and Co). So the president has not committed any crime in pardoning and reinstating those ‘plotters’ back in the army. We can only cry foul if the December 30th attackers or any Gambian wants to celebrate and glorify the attack. Even the then opposition parties condemned the attack because it was deemed undemocratic and a violation of our constitution. But this time around, is a group of people who wants to celebrate the same unconstitutional take over which should not be allowed. Let the APRC and its leadership know that the July 22nd take over does not belong to them but the AFPRC. They are claiming the parenthood of an illegitimate child that is not their own.
In addition Mr President, it will be a total travesty of justice for Gambians to allow such to be celebrated. This will constitute an insult to Gambia and Gambians, especially victims of Jammeh’s atrocities as the takeover is an epitome of killing, torture, maiming and disappearance. Those that argue that the change of government is endorsed by the constitution in its preamble; you must understand that the coup took place under the 1970 constitution which in the first place makes it illegal. The same Gambian constitution makes a military coup illegal and punishable by death. It will be an affront on our democracy to see people celebrate what is undemocratic. How do the democrats reconcile this; celebrating an undemocratic act in the name of democracy?
Mr. President, that is why it is profoundly important for this government under your leadership to urgently with minimum delay work on a constitutional review as one of, if not the primary mandate, in the coalition pact. But it is rather unfortunate that you are busy changing the age caveat to suit the proposed Vice President and the old politicians for the next presidential election. I have called on you and will accentuate the point, that openly showing support to Yahya Jammeh and justifying his crimes should be criminalised in this country. This should be urgently done so as to prevent future applications of permit by APRC or whoever to celebrate this day. This is not a violation of any rights but ensuring that the principles of democracy are promoted and that justice takes its rightful place. We have voted for democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights and liberties on December 1 and will stand firm to promote such ideals to avoid a replica of the past.
Yours in the service of the nation