By Kemo Conteh
It is a political-high tide in the Gambia now, with critical and crucial local government elections looming in the horizon. The competition for public attention and endorsement by political parties is getting higher, and the atmosphere more sensitive, more delicate and more tense by the day. In such an environment, politicians in their mad rush for ideas and counter ideas to sell to the electorate, could easily derail in their public dialogue, and descend into indecent and low-end practices in ways which if unchecked, could compromise the highly cherished peace and stability which is the globally known character and acclaimed hall-mark of the smiling coast of Africa. By UDP’s counter reaction to NPP’s recent press conference in response to their now infamous Gunjur meeting, where they spat on government’s announcement of a commission of inquiry into the financial activities of local government authorities, and their recent personal attack on Hon Dawda Jallow, Attorney General and Minister of Justice in a public statement in that connection both of which are splashed all over the place is a case in point. This embattled party, and serial loser of elections has once again, perhaps unknowingly exposed their deep-seated fear, anxiety and paranoia with elections in the Gambia. Making personal attacks on people who openly support President Barrow and his government is the principal weapon in the UDP arsenal of weapons, so it came as no surprise to anyone that they come after NPP officials in their persons for their press conference, and more recently, the Hon Attorney General in particular, when all the AG did was to put out a word of public advocacy and awareness raising about salient legal concepts, processes, procedures, objects and reasons, for a commission of Inquiry, as given in our constitution, within the mandate and functions of his office. In the process of course, he reminded Hon Darbo truthfully and fittingly that given his (Darbo’s) recent public record in a tax evasion suit which emanated from a commission of inquiry, which he lost against the state, he didn’t have the moral authority to issue a statement against the formation of a commission of inquiry in the conduct of public institutions by government of the Gambia. It is worthy to note that in the same meeting, Hon Darbo also threatened the constitutional provisions of elections in the Gambia, with total disregard and disrespect for the intergrety, and highly lauded international image and profile of the Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission, even before the elections, saying that UDP would announce their own results, if the local government polls did not go their way. As the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who in this country is better placed than Hon Jallow to come out with a word of caution, guidance and advice within the framework of the law, to anyone whose public conduct in action or words such as these, which may be seen as inimical to the law, and hence the continued harmony, peace and stability of the country. In his office as the Chief legal adviser to the government, and by extension, chief advocate of the legal system and constitution of the Republic, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was very much in order and clearly in reach of the necessary data and institutional memory to substantiate the basis of his ministerial advice, and that is all what he did in his advice to Mr Darbo. He may have scratched his (Darbo’s) ego beneath the skin, but in the end, he had clearly transmitted a message that was well coded, and which had resonated very well with the national conscience, and Sunkung deep in the hearts and minds of all right-thinking Gambians. It is beyond imagination how anyone could sit in calmness, hearing the UDP leader saying that his party will resist a government constituted commission of inquiry, in one breadth, and in another, state that his party would announce their own results in constitutionally prescribed elections that have been directed to be conducted under the mandate and auspices of the constitutionally established Independent Electoral Commission for that purpose. Is this not a ticket for chaos?
Lawlessness, and public disorder, who wants the Gambia to be thrown in that kind of political instability and quagmire, except UDP? This threat to the Republic of the Gambia is abhorrent and despicable, even if it is the last card UDP can wave in their unceasing quest to make the Gambia ungovernable.