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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Will the government hold dialogue with the Three Years Jotna?

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The talk on everyone’s lips these days is the issue of the planned protests by a group of citizens calling themselves Three Years Jotna Movement.

They are calling for President Barrow to respect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which he campaigned on.

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These people seem to be very determined to ensure that the president and his coalition team stick to the three years they promised the electorate when they were campaigning in the runup to the December 2016 presidential elections.

However, supporters of President Barrow are adamant that as the Constitution stipulates a five year term for the presidency, the president will serve the full five year mandate.

They are of the view that Gambians voted for a whole term – five years – and not three years as it is in the MoU.

In fact, at a rally in Brikama a few months ago, supporters of the president (in his presence) spoke of measures they will take to disperse any protesters who may come out in the streets to demand his resignation.

They even spoke of using the water canon to spray people with hot water so as to disperse them.

The media – both traditional and new – is replete with talks of these protests and how they will be quelled. This has serious economic and security implications for the country.

As December is the peak of the tourism industry in the country, talks of protests can – and may – affect negatively the number of tourists coming into the country this year.

Similarly, given the history of protests and how the security agents have sought to disperse them in the past, there is a realistic fear that any protests that may happen may end up in some loss of lives and violence.

This is indeed worrisome and all concerned citizens should do everything in their power to ensure that it does not degenerate into violence.

The time has come for the government to open dialogue with the operators of the Three Years Jotna and seek solutions so that the nation may be saved from any potential harm that may happen in the country.

No meaningful progress can be attained in the absence of peace and tranquillity.

Dialogue is the answer.

It is the key to resolving any and all issues that may bring suffering to the people of this country.

Government should therefore show leadership in opening these negotiations.

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