By Mr. Morro Krubally, UTG
Any thought of associating The Gambia with military coup is simply a figment of the imagination. Any person in, or out of the military who may entertain the thought of a coup, is either, one, not a professional soldier, two, uninformed about world geopolitical realities in the 21st century, and certainly the person has no iota of an idea of the powerful existing forces; regional, continental and international forces in place to counter and defeat any such unconstitutionality in The Gambia. Military coup or ‘Unconstitutional Change of Government’ (UCG) is antiquated, not fashionable anymore, and certainly only the foolhardy will engage in such anachronistic undertakings in The Gambia. Coup is categorically NOT possible because:
1) The African Union policy position is contained in three policy instruments a) The Lome ‘Declaration on the Framework for an OAU Response to UCG (here referred to as the Lome Declarations) adopted at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of OAU in Togo in 2000 (OAU, 2000).
2)The African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, which was adopted in Addis Ababa by the 8th ordinary summit of the AU in January 2007 (herein referred to as the Addis Charter) (AU 2207). The Addis Charter came in force when the fifteenth ratification was obtained on Cameroon ratifying in February 2012 (AU, 2012) The Addis Charter is more elaborate than the Lome, Declaration. Both the Lome and Addis Declaration consider four main situations as constituting instances of UCG:
· Military coup d’etat against democratically elected government
· Intervention by mercenaries to replace a democratically elected government
· Replacement of democratically elected government by armed dissident groups and rebel movements; and
· The refusal by an incumbent government to relinquish power to the winning political party after free and fair and regular elections (AU 2007)
Additionally, article 23(5) of the Addis Charter provides a fifth situation: “any amendment or revision of the constitution or legal instruments, which is an infringement on the principles of democratic change of government” (AU 2007). Both Lome and Addis Charter are in place to take decisive stance on any of the above situations stated above that are defined as instances of unconstitutional change of government. A greater emphasis is made on military coups than any other situation. Attached to these principled positions, a number of practical actions are to be taken whenever a UCG takes place in an AU member State such as Gambia, a bonafide and signatory member. The outlined principled practical actions were demonstrated in the forgone impasse in The Gambia in 2017. Prior to Gambia, to implement the principled position, practical actions were demonstrated in other cases such as Mali, Niger, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea for unconstitutional practices like manipulation of constitution, and for Guinea, and Mali for coup d’état. In all cases AU was effective ensuring democracy prevailed.
3) The Constitutive Act of the AU is the third instrument address cases of UCG at the continental level, collaborating with Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Collaboratively, AU partners with RECs on common interest rejecting and standing firm against UCG to enforce its instruments in their respective regions while at the same time the RECs have their own instruments to complement the AU’s instruments. The RECs such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2001 added a protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of ECOWAS States (ECOWAS, 2001).
ECOWAS has demonstrated its capabilities and resolve, and it means business in situations such as Gambia’s post-election impasse. We have also seen in recent times the regional body wasted no time in responding to constitutional infringement situations in the member States like Mali, Cote, d’ Ivoire, and certainly Gambia. Gambia’s case need no elaboration as it is a work in progress, as ECOMIG is still on the ground. I refer interested parties to read the AU report published 13 January, 2017 and confirm for yourself the communique (The 647th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the post-election situation in The Gambia). The communique provided for a thorough outline of steps taken and the involvement of ECOWAS which ultimately led to the new found democracy in The Gambia.
Given the above reasons, and the added stances of the United Nations (UN) and the EU against unconstitutionality, one can conclusively say that only the foolhardy will contemplate a coup in The Gambia, or in the region for that matter. Moreover, the Gambian people have DECIDED their fate, and there is no going back. Gambians will put their lives on the line against any attempt to thwart their democracy. The Gambian people will never accept another dictatorship especially from the likes of the ragtag ignoramuses of 1994 who called themselves soldiers. Bandits they were, and they must be held to account to let everyone know that Gambia has changed for the better, and there is no reversal of democratic fortunes. In my simple street language, Don’t even think about it! If you are a soldier, our fellow brothers, and sister in the service, we thank you for your service, and hope that you shall continue to strive for professionalism in uniform and always; respect for the constitution, respect for the will of the people, respect for the choice of the people, protection of the nations, and protection of the sovereignty of The Gambia, and above all, serve with the highest ethics and respect for position.
Together we can build a new and better Gambia for generations to come. God save The Gambia!