Speaking in exclusive interviews with The Standard, Hamat Bah, the leader of the National Reconciliation Party, said: “As democrats, the National Reconciliation Party condemns any attempt to assume power through undemocratic means. Such is against our party’s principles, the constitution and the internationally established protocols by Ecowas, African Union and the United Nations. We believe that people should not resolve their political differences through violent means.
“However, we would call on the government of The Gambia to change its policies in the way it treats the official opposition. There are two types of opposition in any given country – the official and the unofficial opposition. The official opposition, which we represent, operates within the laws of the land, but the unofficial opposition does not. There are rights and responsibilities given to this official opposition by the constitution which is the supreme law of the land and if you happen to be in power, it is only fair that you respect these rights. If you continue harassing, intimidating and torturing the official opposition to the extent that you weaken it to a stage that the people know that the official opposition cannot uproot you from power, you are unconsciously empowering the unofficial opposition. If you do not allow the opposition to operate freely, you are going to enhance the unofficial opposition which all of us don’t want.”
He added: “I urge the president to work with the lawmakers and promulgate a law to free political prisoners and allow Gambian dissidents abroad to come home. This should be an unconditional general amnesty to those in the country and outside. This should be the beginning of the process of national reconciliation and national unity. This is a serious matter that the government should consider because Gambians should not hate each other to the extent of having the desire to kill each other. We have always been peace-loving people and that peace is our diamond that we cannot afford to compromise. However, there should be an exception because those who have run away with our money should not be part of that amnesty. They should pay for that money that they have stolen. By granting this amnesty, we will have a new beginning in 2015 and The Gambia will be a different country.”
For his part, Omar Jallow of PPP said: “As a party, the PPP believes that The Gambia needs a better leadership and government, but we still seriously believe that this can be achieved through a peaceful, democratic process. We do not believe in changing a government through undemocratic means. That is why, we, as the opposition, should be held partly responsible because we refused to put our house in order and challenge the electoral and democratic process to its ultimate end. And until and unless we do that, we cannot think about other options. I have seen other places where violent changes have happened and where peaceful changes occurred and we realised that those that have made it through non-violent struggle have developed faster. This is historic! That is why I would rather follow the path of those that have made non-violent change happen. With effective opposition coalition, we can win! This is a wake-up call not only for Jammeh, but for us the opposition to avert instability and mayhem in this country.”]]>