Since 1994 when the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) toppled democratically elected government and installed themselves as a new regime , The Gambia has been undergoing an identity crisis and disintegration of republicanism. A long term trend of this will directly led to National disintegration.
To begin with, Gambians do not fully understand a regime change when semi-literate soldiers overthrew our democratically elected government. According to Aristotle’s political theorem, a regime is the fundamental fact of political life because the character of the ruler shapes the characters of the whole people (population). This implies that the 1994 military coup in The Gambia has fundamentally changed and reprogrammed not only our government but it has changed our sociocultural, economic, and religious authorities. This sudden transformation of the country has led to what it is today, it has negatively impacted our way of life as people. The foundation of any nation gives that nation its laws, institutions and perception of what it is. This is why each nation has a foundation or identity which distinguishes it from the other. Such foundation in our country was a Republicanism which ceased to exist since 1994. Republicanism at the time of our founding was based on the ideas of individual rights, civil liberties and power derive from the people.
The advent of AFPRC into The Gambia’s political scene has fundamentally violated the individual rights to choose the manner of our government and core value of power to be derived from people. Such fundamental violations directly infringe on civil liberties and sovereignty of a country. Toda,y we have seen our republican how crises has extended to every fabric of our way of life, being it political, economic or social life. Gambians’ civil liberties have seen daily violations. They lack of basic freedoms of press and speech, and live with forced disappearance, torture, denial of due process and detention without trial, contrary to 72-hour constitutional requirement. To top it all, the Dictator continues to confiscate individual properties.
The regime change has also brought in a Dictator and his gang of criminals who used existing institutions and offices to suit their true intention and purpose of change, the goal being to enrich themselves. From day one the began to change existing governance laws and promulgated degrees which favoured their ultimate goals of self-entrenchment in power. These military degrees violated our God-given rights: liberty, in pursue of happiness, and personal security. Even when they abandoned their degrees, and pretentiously adopted pseudo-constitutional republicanism, it was inherently a continuation of military degrees which disregard our citizenship rights. This republican crisis is further expounded by a rubberstamping National Assembly whose members are under the control of Dictator Yahya Jammeh. This is evidenced by the enactment of laws such as the removal of second round of voting in the constitution, various draconian communication amendment bills and recently the election act 2015, which places heavy burden on multiparty democracy.
The national identity crisis is also caused by fundamental negative developments in The Gambia’s civil liberties since the advent of military dictatorship. This has brought in socio-cultural shift in terms of who we are as a people. Today, the fundamental violations of civil liberties resulting to identity crisis has raised relevant questions by citizens and non-citizens alike. Questions are being raised as to whether we are republican a state, monarchy, terrorist state, Narco-terror state or failed state. This is manifested by lack of republican and democratic values in the leadership and the country as a whole as well as various criminal activities practiced by leadership.
The character of our leader, Dictator Yaya Jammeh has shaped the character of the people today in The Gambia. When the Dictator speaks in some quarters, you would think The Gambia is a democracy but his bizarre behaviours and incoherent speeches typify autocracy, military dictatorship, religious totalitarian ruler and even semblance to recent formidable terrorist leader of ISIL or Islamic state. Jammeh’s penchant about western capitals, their way of life and his anti-western diatribes are two opposing views which make Gambians as victims of his criminal enterprise. There is no proper system in our country because we cannot call our country a republican state when we do not practice republican values. According to Dictator Jammeh’s latest bizarre announcement, The Gambia is an Islamic State but ordinary Gambians have not seen any changes in terms of laws to institute Islamic Republic. What a confusing and identity crisis! Dictator Jammeh’s continuous executive directives exemplify a character of a dictator who has total disregard to the constitution and the rule of law. Such executive directives are usually about imposing religious practice on citizens. Jammeh became supreme religious leader who used various religious leaders to showcase his agenda. This has changed our religious character because religious leaders have became key players tasked with propagating propaganda for a regime that denies its citizens civil liberties. This resulted to social moral decadence. This national identity crisis forces people to be unpatriotic, corrupt as well as breed total impunity in the country as evidenced by poor judiciary system, human rights abuses and incompetence political appointments.
Unless we come together to rescue our country, we may lead to chaotic disintegration. It is time to rectify our republicanism and go back to constitutional rule where individual rights and civil liberties are respected. This can only be achieved when we have patriotic citizens at the leadership – leaders who value and respect civil liberties, the rule of law and the constitution.