Dear Mr. Sillah,
Congratulations and thank you for being able to spark up a very salient and highly participatory debate on the way forward for our besieged nation. You will recall that about a year ago we contacted you to join our Study Group on The Way Forward To The Third Republic. We are the small group of concerned Gambians based in Gambia, Senegal, France, Sweden, the U.K. and some from down your end in the US. If you remember how we spent months feverishly trying to put heads together, debating and ironing out our different view points till we finally concluded on the document, “A Possible Way Forward.”
The months of debate between August to December 2013 and the paper we managed to finally agree on as a draft for a political program for a United National Front, was conceived in the optimistic spirit that sprung out of the Raleigh conference which you and others were part of. We then naively relied on CORDEG, which stemmed out of that conference, to champion and shoulder the task of paving the way for a tri-partite coalition of the home-based opposition political parties, the independent candidates and their respective supporters and civil society organizations both inside The Gambia and outside. We called them the Three Spheres. But even before the finalization of the work of trashing out the many bones of contention and coming to a final conclusive document, there prevailed signs that it might not work as the Raleigh consensus had started falling apart even before the word go. Relations between the opposition parties have been deteriorating as much as Diaspora Gambian groups and groupings continue being ever more fractious, increasing in numbers through endless divisions.
After the draft document was ready, it was copied to opposition parties, Diaspora opposition groups, prominent personalities and individual Gambian both at home and abroad over Ten months ago without a single serious response, feedback, critique, etc, from any of them. Because some of the actions proposed are of a type that calls for discretion, the document was of limited circulation.
But now that the draft has been orphaned, with no group ready to discuss it, much less adopt it, we in the Study Group on The Way Forward To The Third Republic have now decided to have it published, critically scrutinized for final adoption as guide to action by any group of citizens both inside and outside the country.
We are hoping you will be amenable to the idea of using your column for the dissemination, criticizing, enrichment and adoption and implementation of the document as part of the group.
The hope is to build up a movement of dedicated citizens united around the adopted document and its programs of actions that each citizen, abroad or inside the country, openly or clandestinely, can adopt for urgent action. The idea is to take a plan of action which if widely embraced and vigorously pursued by Gambians and friends of The Gambia, will force our opposition political leaders to unite, on terms determined by us, the proposed movement of the masses, or be rendered irrelevant and obsolete.
We alone are our own liberators and authorship of the document assures no leadership role in this, as it will be a free network of small groups of people who can work together, who trust each other and who will decide what role, out of the stipulated programs of action, is best cut out for them. No centralized control or coordination of activities is needed at this stage, no centralized control of resources needed as of now. All needed is concurrence on an agreed road map set out clearly on this document, as we view it.
What we envisage is not a top-down structure with a vertical hierarchy but one with a horizontal network of autonomous groups of activists united by their commitment to the programs outlined in the document.
Leaders will naturally spring out of the activities of the masses whatsoever as we march along and from the thick of the struggle. We are not aiming at replacing the leaders of the political parties. We are only striving to press them into uniting. Loyalty to our opposition parties and their leaders can be kept and nurtured quietly but this is loyalty that is irrelevant now as we march towards building the United Front. We will need those later after the ouster of the dictatorship and before the first elections of the coming Third Republic. So it would be foolish to let our divided party political loyalties to hamper the smooth emergence of a United National Front before autumn 2016. We can conveniently put aside our individual party cards until after the overthrow of this despicable Second Republic.
If we fail this time in 2016 Mr. Sillah, history will punish us and the younger generation severely. The fate of our nation is in the hands of a mad tyrant who would be worst because he would be more insane than he is now. Our future would be bleaker; the system of state-sponsored robbery of our state coffers would be intensified and both state and its people would be forced into the extremes of poverty never before known. Relations between national, ethnic, cultural and religious groups would be more explosive and can lead to violence; executive lawlessness, now rampant, would become the order of the day; our international isolation and negative publicity would leave us helpless and tensions with neighboring countries could lead us to senseless wars; war could breakout among soldiers and innocent civilians would bare the brunt of any such conflict. But how really “innocent” would we have been considered if we continue to lay back and leave everything in the hands of leaders who have for years only excelled in misleadership, misdirection and the dishing out of false hopes.
Come along fellow countrywomen and men, let us take the bull by the horns. Let us chart out a viable road map without bogging ourselves down to empty rhetoric and intellectual masturbation. We know there are many huddles that lie ahead but let us, for once, give it a try. Come, join take matters into our own hands. Out of own efforts will come new breed of leaders required by the times and appropriate to the task at hand.
Let us debate with the aim of finally coming together to take back our nation. Let us criticize the document vigorously but let us come up with concrete alternatives. Let us debate with respect and harmony if we are to get anywhere.
The document is lengthy, so we suggest we serialize it into the three parts, or spheres, as they are called in the document. We, in advance, do apologize for any possible, displeasure, real or imagined, caused by the publication of the document.
On behalf of Study Group on The Way Forward To The Third Republic, thank you.
Group of Concerned Citizens