“My interaction with a soldier whom I did not know was brief since I wanted them to leave the premises with speed. A Ministerial post was offered and I told the person that they will get my reply. They visited Sam Sarr who lived next door to the PDOIS office and stayed a bit longer than expected. I advanced towards Sam’s house to find out what was going on and met him bidding them goodbye. Sam told me that they were trying to convince him after rejecting the offer outright”, an extract of Hon Halifa Sallah’s reaction to the testimony of Ex-Captain Momat Cham reads.
A deeper analysis into Mr Sallah’s statement above creates more problems for him than for Brigadier General Momat Cham whose statement infuriated Mr. Sallah.
The question that curious minds ask is: why did Mr Sallah not reject the offer right outright instead of telling the Military Junta to expect his reply.
Mr Sallah has every right to reject the offer right away but he refused to do so at the right time at the right moment. In the same statement, Mr Sallah indicated that his “interaction with a solider whom he did not know was brief since he wanted them to leave the premises with speed” but in following statements, he categorically stated “I advanced towards Sam’s house to find out what was going on and met him bidding them goodbye. Sam told him that they were trying to convince Sam after rejecting the offer outright.” This statement is not consistent with the idea that Mr Sallah wanted the soldiers to leave his premises with speed. This is because people do not follow someone that they don’t want to see or leave their house with speed. Mr Sallah’s statement insinuated that he had followed the soldiers to Sam Sarr’s house. This is an indication that Mr Sallah wanted to know more or at least have an interest in what the representative of the Junta came to his house for. This was why Mr Sallah had advanced to Sam’s house “to find out more about what was going om.” This is a very troubling statement which dismissed the very idea that Mr Sallah was totally against the troubled coup makers. Mr Sallah should have never associated himself with the coup makers by giving them the opportunity to meet him at the PDOIS office much more to discuss the offer of ministerial positions which he never rejected outright. He should have locked his office just like Lawyer Ousainou Darboe did when the representatives of the Junta visited Darboe’s home. This would have saved Mr. Sallah and PDOIS from current suggestion made by Ex-Captain Cham that PDOIS leaders “were supposed to report to the state house the following day at mid-day to accept or reject the jobs being offered to them.” If Mr. Sallah was truly not interested in the toppling of democratically elected government of Sir Dawda Jawara he would have campaigned against the coup but leadership of PDOIS were the first politicians in the country to advocate and support the referendum formulated by the military Junta. PDOIS was on record campaigning at the time for Gambians to endorse the referendum which paved the way for the military Junta to consolidate and entrench themselves in power. The referendum eventually gave birth to the 1997 constitution which Dictator Jammeh and cronies used to abuse rights of citizens. This was the biggest disappointment and disaster made by PDOIS leadership.
Another statement I find troubling and concerning in Halifa Sallah’s rebuttal is the suggestion that the letter sent by PDOIS to reject the offer was meant to “put a dent to the Junta’s plan to form a government and also to state in principles of its rejection based on the sovereignty of the Republic and the sovereignty of the people.” According to Mr. Sallah, “this was done so that the letter would circulate in order to prepare the base for resistance should Junta go against our (PDOIS) recommendations to open up discussion with the political parties and other National stakeholders.” This is the cheapest excuse Mr Sallah could offer or suggest. Which base is he talking about to resist the military Junta? If Mr Sallah and PDOIS had such a base of supporters that he could have activated to resist Military Junta, why he did not activated PDOIS support base to resist treasonable crime committed by semi-illiterate soldiers who toppled democratically elected government of The Gambia . Mr Sallah and many Gambian intellectuals who helped shape the agenda of the Junta and contributed to prolongation of Military dictatorship should simply apologize to the Gambian people for horrible mistakes they made. They should take personal responsibility for their roles. The truth and reconciliation is about telling our mistakes on what had happened. Mr. Sallah is not perfect and his intention might not match with his actions. Therefore, he simply needs to take ownership of his mistake rather than being on defensive mode. After all, the Military dictatorship is very uncivilised and nasty system of government in which even opposition leaders could be agents of political oppression for sake of individual interest.
Finally, Mr. Sallah’s publication of the rebuttal is unprofessional, for he should have contacted the TRRC to accord him the opportunity to set the record straight which will allow Gambian people to hear directly from him. But his rebuttal is simply done to further discredit the commission.