By Tabora Bojang
The political adviser to President Barrow has dismissed accusations that The Gambia is sliding back to dictatorship as “a misrepresentation”.
Siaka Jatta told The Standard yesterday that the Barrow administration is the only government in the world that would even give permit to a group actively seeking to topple it.
Question marks over The Gambia’s democratic transition three years after the fall of former president Jammeh continue to flare after violent demonstrations calling on Barrow to resign resulted in over 130 arrests and dozens injured as members of the Three Years Jotna movement fought running battles with the police.
Asked if confronting and arresting protesters by the government has helped in discrediting President Barrow in the eyes of the world after wide international condemnations that the country is sliding back to dictatorship, Jatta responded:“The Gambia is not sliding back to dictatorship. In fact, we are emerging as the leading beacon of hope in terms of upholding and promoting the values of good governance and democracy in a region that has seen a considerable setback in those areas.
“This is the verdict of Freedom House, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for Good Governance, among other globally regarded NGOs, think tanks and academic bodies. With the support of international partners like the EU, Ecowas, and the UN, among others, we have gone far in not only protecting human rights but widening the political space and tolerating dissent and divergent views.”
Jatta, a former UDP surrogate, said “all well-meaning people can see and appreciate the indicators of the rule of the law, good governance and democracy are at an all-time high in the country.
“I have not seen any government in the world, except the Barrow government, that will give a permit to any individual or group of individuals that seeks to topple it. We gave them a permit on the principle that all citizens have an equal right to free expression and opinion. But we will not allow that right to be abused irresponsibly at the expense of the peace and stability of the country,” he posited.
Supreme Court verdict
Mr Jatta told The Standard that even though the president and his people respect the decision of the Supreme Court against the government of The Gambia in declaring the president’s removal of Ya Kumba Jaiteh as a nominated National Assembly Member as unconstitutional, “all options are available on the table for their next move”.
“Respecting the decision does not necessarily mean we agree. All options are on the table for our next move. As a government that has done so much in strengthening the independence and autonomy of the judiciary, we regard the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government. I do not see any losers in the case. It is a win-win situation as it is indicative of the maturity of our nascent democracy and good governance that has been guaranteed by the government of President Adama Barrow.”