By Essa Njie
It will not be misleading to claim that December 1 was to mark the dawn of a fresh era in Gambian politics; the dawn of a true revolution, when our entire governance system will be changed, culminating into the total reordering and redirecting of the Gambian society towards a smooth political path. A system change and not only a government change was what we envisaged.
It was no secret that routine questioning of political figures by notorious former National Intelligence Agency for uttering political statements, intimidation and harassment served as the major characteristic of the Jammeh presidency in holding his grip on political power. This was a system that all genuine and patriotic Gambians detested, for it was a threat to the liberty, dignity and prosperity of Gambians. In defying this dictatorship, a political jihad was launched by Gambians to democratically eject Jammeh and replace him with you as the president, hoping to lead a system that will usher in a new democratic dispensation where the rights and liberties of every Gambian will be guaranteed and protected.
In addition, it was no secret that public institutions in the Jammeh era have been politicised including those of the security sector. The army, police and worse of all, the National Intelligence Agency have served as the chief surrogates of Jammeh in intimidating, harassing and killing Gambians. These institutions have interfered in our politics, openly showing political support to Jammeh and his AFPRC/APRC for 22 years. From Halifa Sallah to Ousainou Darboe, the late Shyngle Nyassi to other leading political figures, questioning by the police and other security agents served as their experiences. However, this did not stop them from standing firm for what they believe in, the need to end Jammeh’s rule.
Mr President, just a month ago, the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress was questioned by the police for allegations made against politicians in the cabinet. Indeed, Mamma as a politician is expected to make responsible statements backed by facts to avoid misinforming the public through false allegations. However, this does not permit the police to question him for making political statements that are not in any form threats to national security. I am of the view that those accused politicians have the right to respond to Mamma or ignore him on his blissful lack of knowledge.
Again, Fabakary Tombong Jatta was also questioned by the police for making a statement one may deem sensitive, that it is only members of a particular ethnic group that are being arrested in the army. Morally, this is highly irresponsible of a leading politician considering the sensitive nature of our current political realities-highly drawn from tribal inspirations. However, claiming that those arrested or sacked from government are also APRC supporters is a political statement and I personally feel questioning by the police is not necessary.
Mr President, what is more disheartening is something you may not be aware of. Since politicians like to attract the attention of people, they always like to be on the headlines not only to get the precious attention of the citizens, but get their sympathy as well.
This is something the government should be aware of and avoid making attempts that will give the attention seekers what they want. Such moves by politicians as Fabakary did is a way of scoring political goals by giving the impression that this government is not in any way different from that of Jammeh in questioning politicians or denying them their right to freedom of expression and dissenting views. This country has a lot to take care of which the government should focus on rather than engaging in questioning politicians for uttering political statements.
Finally, in order for our democracy to be sustained, the police and other security institutions must stay away from politics in all manners. The police may deal with politicians on matters that may jeopardise the peace and stability of the country, but it should not be a norm to frequently question them on political matters. It is important to put an end to it.
Yours in the service of the nation