Fellow citizens of the Gambia, many are still in shock and disbelief about the outcome of December 1st elections that free our country for good.
Today, we woke up with news of yet another surprising development. The freeing of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and comrades could not have come at a better time than now. Their only crime – if it ever exists – is to exercise their human and citizenrship rights by protesting on the streets requesting Solo Sandeng [Gambia’s Steve Biko] dead or alive. Solo Sandeng was arrested for peacefully protesting for electoral reform that would give the opposition coalition chance to win elections. Sandeng, the former Social Secretary of the United Democratic Party, was horrifically beaten to death. Another opposition member in custody Solo Krumang also died of torture wounds, raising national and international concerns about former President Jammeh’s government appalling human rights credentials.
Now that these leaders had paid the ultimate prices to see us where we are today (Freedom Gambia under the leadership of coalition), we must thank them and the Almighty Allah. We sympathize with the families of deceased activists. May their souls rest in peace.
We now need to focus on the transition and get our new leadership prepared for the challenges ahead. We don’t know how much money our government owes. We don’t know all what went wrong and right during Yahya Jammeh’s stewardship. I recommend an independent investigation to be soon launched in all areas and where necessary, judicial process pursued. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will be accountable. Thus, let us loosen up a bit, take it easy with the jubilation of change of regime; surely there are many more successes ahead to celebrate.
Let’s be willing to forgive and forget things that warrant to be forgiven and prosecute things that warrant such. Let’s be cautious about tribal conflicts. The Gambia is a country of one people – a country where everyone is somehow related. Let’s start working on national reconciliation and start loving one another. Let’s continue to strengthen our national unity that gets us here.
Finally, it has to take us experience of Jammeh’s regime for us to learn politically the importance and beauty of freedom we enjoyed until July 1994. In previous elections, some of us don’t value our votes. Some would sell votes for a few hundreds of dalasi. Today, Gambians know how valuable a vote is, because it is what brought us the freedom we have been yearning for 22 years.
My advice for the new regime is clear and simple: don’t repeat the vices of the Jammeh regime. Refrain from CORRUPTION, FAVOURITISM OR NEPOTISM. None of these should have a place in a New Gambia. TRIBALISM should take a back seat. Let folks earn what is deserved and deserved what’s earned.
Let’s invest to create JOBs. Let’s create an economy that helps our working class and secure their retirements. Let’s create educational incentives and programs for our children, good medical facilities and medicine, export agricultural produce and make good trade deals. Let’s focus on technology and constructions to make our home meet a 21st century evolving challenges. Let us work with foreign countries and share intelligence and economic opportunities with neighboring countries.
This not the responsibility of the government only, but that of the citizens of the Gambia as well.
Momodou S. Sawaneh
The people must come first and last