UDP, NPP, NHRC condemn alleged coup attempt

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The opposition United Democratic Party, the ruling National Peoples Party and the National Human Rights Commission have all released statements condemning last Tuesday’s alleged attempted coup.

The UDP statement reads:

“The United Democratic Party learns of an attempted coup d’etat in The Gambia with shock and dismay. The UDP strongly condemns without any reservations the attempt to change the government unconstitutionally. The UDP believes in and adheres to the principles of Democracy. Change in government should always be through the ballot of the box. The UDP commends the leadership of the Gambia Armed Forces for acting in a timely fashion to foil the attempted coup d’etat.

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The UDP reiterates its total condemnation of any attempt to change the government unconstitutionally.”

The NPP statement reads: “The National People’s Party (NPP) has condemned in the strongest possible term, an attempt by elements of The Gambia Armed Forces to seize power through a military coup.

This condemnable act of attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Adama Barrow was a betrayal of the highest order least expected from any member of the disciplined forces.

Since 2017, the Government of The Gambia has been spiritedly engaged in enriching the country’s nascent democracy accompanied by genuine policies aimed at enhancing national reconciliation, respect for human rights and improving the livelihood of the generality of the population. The democratic governance environment today is a far cry of what used to obtained in The Gambia from 1994 – 2016 when citizens were brutalized with their human rights wcontinually violated characterized by unexplained disappearances, arrest, torture and in some cases, killing of opponents. All these are now a thing of the past instituted by a political leadership that is manifestly tolerant and committed to the development of the country.

Therefore to have a few misguided soldiers with a dogmatic agenda to derail the gains already registered by the government of President Adama Barrow is not only a treacherous act of sabotage but an unacceptable behavior by the architects of this evil plan.

The Gambia’s democracy is flourishing and all hands are needed more than ever before to be on deck to sustain the gains. While NPP most profoundly thank The Gambia Armed Forces for quickly arresting the ring leaders of the attempted coup, it has to be made clear that the good people of The Gambia will continue to defend and nurture their democracy at all cost. This country practices purely competitive democratic governance process. Therefore anyone who wants to be at the helm of power is at liberty to either form his or her own political party or join the existing political parties. The crude attempt to wrestle power from democratically elected governments is no longer fashionable and the perpetrators should know that The Gambian people, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the rest of the international community will stand tall with The Gambia to ensure that democracy prevails in this country.

The NPP therefore calls on all political parties and patriotic Gambians to equally condemn the dastardly and illegal attempt to usurp power.”

The NHRC press release states: “National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the reported alleged coup attempt by some soldiers of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF). Two press releases issued by the Government’s spokesperson on Wednesday 21 December 2022 confirmed the alleged foiled coup attempt and the arrest of some of the personnel implicated in the plot through a ‘swift military operation’ conducted on Tuesday, 20 December 2022. The Statement further confirmed the arrest of four (4) personnel and the pursuit of three (3) others who are at large.

We wish to state that it is illegal under the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia for anyone or group of persons to overthrow or attempt to overthrow through unlawful means a democratically elected Government. Members of the security forces in particular must understand that their main role is to protect lives and property, ensure observance of the law, maintain peace and security, defend the 1997 Constitution, and safeguard the territorial integrity of The Gambia, and certainly not to subvert the will of the people or usurp power unconstitutionally. The way and manner in which a democratically elected Government is to be changed are clearly stipulated in the Constitution.

While we commend the authorities in the way this matter is being handled thus far, we wish to encourage and remind  the Government and The Gambia Armed Forces of their duty to observe, respect and protect the fundamental rights of the suspects being arrested in this alleged coup plot as guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the 1997 Constitution, particularly section 24; Articles 7, 9, 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and Articles 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

While we continue to monitor the arrest and detention of the suspects and the investigations into this matter, the general public and our security personnel are encouraged to desist from conducts and utterances that will undermine peace and security and the existing framework on constitutional governance in The Gambia. In this vein, we encourage the Government to expedite the Security Sector Reform agenda which was commenced as part of the core pillars of The Gambia’s transitional justice framework.

It is only through our collective resolve for rule of law that the ideals of ‘Never Again’ can find much meaning; and individual observance and respect for constitutional procedures and processes that we can have a society anchored on good governance, democratic tenets and values, and due process.”

Meanwhile, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa) also expressed similar concern about the alleged coup plot. “Whilst we recognise that coups are becoming commonplace in West Africa, as more citizens grow disillusioned with the posturing and poor performance of leaders in elected position, the disruption and uncertainty they cause is often detrimental to development,” a statement from the body stated.