I do not wish to turn the pages of Kairo News into a platform of arm wrestling or a ping pong game between the two of us, so I will react to your views for the last time.
I do agree with you on the importance of history as a factor to determine where we are heading, but when individuals are driven by their infatuation and consumed by a desire, not only to link a political leadership to a criminal event, but also to hopelessly attempt to tarnish the name, standing and image of decent, honourable, selfless and hardworking group of people, then the history such individuals (like you) present must be taken with a pinch of salt, if not outrightly thrown away as tainted and unreliable.
I understand your obsession with the PDOIS Leadership, particularly Hon. Halifa Sallah and I am not surprised that you would pounce on the testimony of Momat Cham, a disgraced military officer, who should have no role to play in our security services, if we have any sense at all, but I am totally disappointed that you did so, for reasons already stated.
One of the basic tenets of democracy is to accept that people have a right to make choices (In whatever that may be) and to also accept that we can differ in our choices, but your democratic credentials are questionable by consistenly refusing to recognise the rights of PDOIS to practice their politics, as they choose, and endlessly branding them in whatever negative term is in fashion with you at any point in time.
I am not a member of PDOIS, nor have I got any association with the leadership, but I have followed them long enough to know that they do not indulge in CONDEMNATIONS. PDOIS reacts to a situation by exposing its deficiency/ies and then presents their alternatives. This is the way they chose to operate. Have they got the right to their choice, if I may ask you?
In 1994, PDOIS has been in politics for about EIGHT years and has contested 2 elections (86/7 & 92) if my memory serves me right. In both elections, the electorate bestowed their trust on the PPP, whose leadership swore to defend the Constitution without FEAR or favour. Not a single PDOIS candidate who was presented to The Gambian People was entrusted with their mandate. PDOIS Leadership, therefore, had no Constitutional obligations, other than what every Gambian Citizen had, to stand up against the coup and defend the Constitution.
The role of a political party, as far as I know, was to seek political office by selling its programmes and politicies to the people. I do not think there is any additional requirements on political parties, except the one in office, to defend the constitution, other than what is placed on all of us, as citizens. I may be wrong, and if so, please correct.
Thus, viewed from that perspective, singling PDOIS out for criticism for not condemning the coup or defending the Constitution is unfair, unreasonable and clearly indicative of your bias against the party and its leadership. This has become a sickness in you which leads you to any piece of information, reliable or not, that you think could further your agenda against Mr Sallah and PDOIS. That’s quite unfortunate because I honestly think that you are a much better person than this captious one (person) I often encounter when PDOIS is the subject of discussion.
And in case you don’t know, there were other parties, public officials and professional organisations, including the Bar Association at the time of coup that became mute, inactive and completely submissive to the Junta, but I have NEVER heard you question their inaction against, or submission to, the coupist. I just wonder why? Why always PDOIS and no one else?
Why should PDOIS, a party with the least support (if elections results are to be relied on) encourage Gambians to take to the street to oppose the coup, when those who had won the people’s mandate surrendered and capitulated to the coupists, with some even branding PDOIS, “trouble makers”, for openly taking a position against the overthrow of a democratically elected government, as early as July 23rd or 24th, (not sure), but certainly within the first week of the coup? What makes you think that PDOIS has a greater responsibility than anyone of us to oppose the coup?
Some members of the PPP did, indeed, eventually muster the courage to put up a showing (I won’t call it a demo), but the mere fact that it happened at that time, in that manner and at that particular place, and the ease with which it was quashed, is more of an indictment on the PPP than it is on PDOIS, because it exposed all that was wrong with the PPP.
This was the party in office for 30+ years, with a 2/3rd majority in the House of Parliament. One would have thought that the defence of their legitimate mandate would have started on day ONE in the place where the seats of power are located; not miles away at the gate of a foreign embassy, well after the Junta had consolidated its power. That’s like attempting to kill the snake, when it’s long gone, by striking at its mark on the sand. Only people like you would praise such futility.
Why should PDOIS join such a showing? It seems to me that you don’t know your “enemy”. You have decided to wage a war against PDOIS, but you don’t even know the party. PDOIS is not an impulsive party. It does not take decisions at the spur of the moment, nor is its decision making influenced by emotions.
As far as I know, PDOIS calculates its every move and weighs what could be realistically achieved by every decision it takes. That is why, for example, they defied Decree No.4, which you have alluded to here. The defiance was intended to achieve a certain political outcome and it did. My advice to you is to know your “enemy” first before you take them on.
What has PDOIS done to ensure the Junta and Jammeh return to Barracks, you ask? Well, firstly, it was not the duty of PDOIS to ensure that the Junta goes back to Barracks, but if you want to know, I can mention a couple of things:
- Reinstatement of the Sovereignty of the Republic:
The Junta, upon taking over, announced the suspension of the entire Constitution of the Republic. It was PDOIS, through Foroyaa, that pointed out the inviolability of the sovereignty of the Republic and the fact that ONLY the Executive was overthrown. The Junta eventually restored the Sovereignty of the Republic by rectifying their mistake.
- Involvement of the People in the transition process:
The Junta announced their time table of FOUR Years without consulting anyone, but eventually had to establish the Consultative Committee to involve the People in that process. Who first called for a National Conference to shape the future of the country? PDOIS of course. Whether it was a conference through which the People were involved or not is irrelevant. What is relevant here is that the Junta recognised the need to involve the People in that process.
So, rather than the circulation of the letter to prepare the base for resistance being a hoax, it actually forced the Junta to reverse some of their key decisions and follow PDOIS recommendations. (,e.g. reinstatement of the Republic and establishment of NCC)
May be, you should now tell us some of what your current heroes did at that time, to ensure that the Junta returned to Barracks.
Whether PDOIS was selectively allowed to participate in the politics of the 2nd Republic or not is only known to the People who made that decision, but one thing I am certain about, is that the decision was motivated by what the decision makers knew about PDOIS. The coup makers did not want to create any more problems for themselves than they were already confronted with, and banning PDOIS would certainly have presented its own problem.
As for PDOIS’ reaction to Decree No.4, you are entitled to your opinion that it was motivated more by financial gains than the defence of fundamental rights. Personally, I DO NOT know the source(s) of PDOIS Funds and how much Foroyaa contributed to it at the time. What I do know is that Foroyaa was cheap (About D2) and that a copy was usually passed round several people. Moreover, the Gambian public then, was not a reading one, so I don’t know how many copies of Foroyaa had to be sold to raise significant amounts of money. I will leave you to tell your audience, since you seem to have the answers.
I will, instead, rely on PDOIS pronouncements and common sense to show that their reaction was a calculated move of open defiance to achieve a certain outcome. What pronouncements do I want to rely on?
PDOIS is on record that NO FORCE OR ENTITY EXIST THAT CAN UNILATERALLY CURTAIL ITS FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS. There is no dispute over that. Decree No.4 unilaterally curtailed the rights of PDOIS, in particular, and Gambians in general, to hold political views and disseminate same. Like you said, it did not ban the publication of newspapers, but only ones that are organs of political parties and the ONLY piece of evidence which identified Foroyaa as such, was a statement it carries on its front page, thus, “organ of PDOIS”.
If the motivation, as you want your audience to believe was financial gains, all they had to do was drop this statement altogether. They would have continued to “rake in the millions” (as you seem to claim) without having to worry about Decree No.4. That is just common sense.
However, the actions of the PDOIS Leadership showed that this was a deliberate defiance to defend Fundamental Rights, and they had anticipated, and were prepared, for the worst.
First, we now know that they had taken the decision to send someone abroad to continue the struggle, should they be incarcerated or even liquidated.
Secondly, they had announced that all members must refrain from political activities until further notice. This was contained either in the same edition or a prior supplementary publication (not sure).
Thirdly, those who went out to sell Foroyaa on that day outside the Ministry of Education in Banjul, just meters from State House, were not the usual Foroyaa sellers. These were the party officials (Halifa and Sidia).
By their actions, PDOIS has practiced what it preached: that NO FORCE OR ENTITY EXIST THAT CAN UNILATERALLY CURTAIL ITS FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS. The fact that PDOIS eventually dropped the statement, “organ of PDOIS ” from Foroyaa front page, is in compliance with the orders of a court of law; not an arbitrary military council. The defiance was against the Military Council’s assumed powers to unilaterally curtail fundamental freedoms and if the nation had supported PDOIS, then perhaps, we would be talking about a different history today; not 22 years of a brutal dictatorship.
By the way, Foroyaa, by being a medium that can disseminate recorded ideas and preserve history was more important than holding political rallies. What is said at a political rally is heard there and then it’s gone, but what is captured on the pages of a newspaper like Foroyaa, remains for posterity. You can see the logic why PDOIS would choose to defy the decree, through Foroyaa, than a political rally.
Your allegation that I branded Hon. Ousainou Darboe as a coward is utterly baseless and completely false. What I stated was that the evidence of Momat Cham, claiming that Hon. Darboe locked himself up, defies logic and common sense, unless if we conclude that he (Darboe) was terrified of the soldiers, which I said (I was certain) you will not agree with. That has no resemblance to what you are alleging here.
Finally Max, nothing lends credence to my view that you will attempt to use anything to further your goals against PDOIS, than your claim that Jammeh was a “student of PDOIS school of thought”, presumably, because he happened to go to the same school where Mr Sam Sarr also happened to be a teacher. Putting aside this rediculous claim of “PDOIS school of thought (whatever that is), what has Mr Sarr’s role, as a teacher in high school, got to do with the behaviour of a student over a decade after he (the student) left high school? This is insane and beyond belief.
All the pronouncements that were made to justify the coup NEVER mentioned PDOIS once or any of its leadership, as a mentor and inspiration for the coup. All pronouncements that are being at the commission have indicated the presence of Nigerians, living conditions and non payment of allowances, as reasons for the coup. No one has so far mentioned PDOIS, and yet you have the audacity to make the bold claim that they (the coupists) were motivated/inspired by PDOIS. Who do you think the nation should believe: hate filled Max or the coupists and their accomplices?
Jammeh may have “positive perspective towards PDOIS”, but it is the same Jammeh who arrested them and wanted to lock them up, even before he clashed with Lawyer Darboe, who only became Jammeh’s sworn enemy after he became his political challenger, or may be, a bit earlier, when he defended PPP Ministers, all of which happened well after he had alreay clashed with his supposed favourite PDOIS. That makes a lot of sense according to Max logic.