The first decision before Saturday’s decision

The first decision before Saturday's decision

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Saturday is the day. The day we decide who leads us for the next five years. Even though it sounds simple—and it should have been simple—but the stakes are very high that the decision becomes as important as our lives. You can actually argue that, high stakes or not, voting in a presidential election should be as important as our very own existence.

In 2016, even though the stakes could not have been higher, the environment was completely different. We had a sit-tight dictator who ruled us for over two decades and, apart from state plunder, also killed us for fun. It was time to get rid of him. And we did, without hurting a fly. This time, however, the objective to remove or keep the incumbent feels more different.

When you vote in a high-stake election, there is always a potential for violence. Post-election violence is no stranger on our continent. In fact, it has been one of the biggest threats to our lives. Almost every country in Africa experienced some form of violence after elections. In some cases, hundreds died. Closer to home is Guinea Conakry who held their election last year. At least 27 people were killed after Alpha Condé was declared winner.

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Even the most democratic countries in Africa experience such violence. And we all know why. When lives and careers are on the line in an election, then violence is always a major threat. We escaped, quite remarkably, in 2016 when former president Yahya Jammeh refused to go. We all know if he had insisted on staying, this country would have different. We would have been struggling to recover from the disaster, killings and destruction because the sub-regional forces would have invaded. It’s chilling to even revisit the experience.

Here we are, again, heading into another decisive election. The atmosphere has been tense. The conversations have been toxic. Every candidate wants to be the next president. But, with all the crowd and tension, we ought to remember that we cannot afford to cause trouble. That is the first decision we must make before Saturday. We must be measured in our speeches and actions. We must preach peace and be peaceful. We must be orderly and obedient to the laws. We must vote in peace and make sure that peace reigns, regardless of who wins. That is our collective responsibility as Gambians. We must not let this country burn. We must safeguard its serenity and stability. That is a MUST. There is no need to even talk about the alternative. So go out on Saturday and vote. Then, whatever happens or whoever wins, we continue to nurture our fledgling democracy and preserve our widely envied peace!