I wish to once again register profound congratulations and gratitude to the Coalition 2016 leadership and various participants, home and abroad, for their unprecedented and exceptional achievement in restoring democracy in the Gambia. December 2016 marked a new chapter in the annals of history of democracy in Africa. It witnessed one of the most awe-inspiring, widely followed and vulnerable elections in the continent, ushering a new dawn in its political ambience. After a pulsating tense political campaign, Gambians voted for change, subjecting the dictatorship of former President Yahya AJJ Jammeh to defeat by a coalition candidate and current president, HE Adama Barrow. Barrow was then a little known, shy, calm and humble looking fellow, whose emergence on the then volcanic or volatile political scene of the country took many by surprise. Notwithstanding, the democratic wind of change that blew Barrow IN had compelled Jammeh to personally accept defeat, only for him to unfortunately make a U-turn on his hitherto public acceptance. President Jammeh then blatantly claimed that the elections were rigged and hence must be nullified.
Consequently, Jammeh’s reluctance to relinquish and his desperate attempts to hang onto power was greeted with persuasion, stern warnings and then coercion from the ECOWAS, who were amply backed by the blessings of the UN, African Union and other major world powers in their drive and hell-bent resolve to help ensure that the democratic verdict of Gambia’s electorates prevail, at all cost. That firm ECOWAS commitment, courage and wisdom to ensure democracy prevails in the Gambia, was unprecedented, highly commendable and ever cherished. Accordingly, President Barrow’s regime is understandably a coalition government that was expected to rule the country based on the 2016 coalition manifesto (philosophy and program) rather than any single party, personal or President-Barrow agenda, for that matter. On the contrary, the Gambia government is rapidly deviating from the motive of coalition 2016 program in favour of the President’s. Fundamentally, instead of a President Barrow ‘’Agenda’’ I think our government needs to go back to the drawing boards and embrace the Coalition 2016 manifesto/agenda to lead the Gambia to the Promised Land. It is confusing and worrying to hear our famous coalition 2016 flag bearer, turned-president, alluding, saying if anyone does not support his ‘’agenda’’. Frankly speaking, there should be no agenda in the Gambia today bigger than the Coalition 2016 agenda, because it was that agenda that was sold to the Gambian electorates. And they bought into it to removed X-President, Jammeh and his enablers from power for democracy to prevail. Therefore, any president Barrow agenda that contravenes the Coalition 2016 manifesto is tantamount to a deviation and hence a recipe for misrepresenting the true spirit of our democracy and by extension a potential stimulus for repression.
To avoid history repeating itself, I am by this message humbly appealing to all the various stakeholders of the coalition 2016 agreement, most notably HE the President, hon Halifa Sallah, Lawyer Hussein Darboe, hon Ahmad Mai Fatty, hon O. J. Jallow, hon Amat Bah, hon Denbo Bojan and Mrs Fatoumatta Tambajang, to name but a few, to reassume and shoulder their rightful leadership responsibilities, rallying behind President Barrow to ensure that the government stays on course in making good the 2016 coalition program, to the latter. Mother Gambia cannot afford sliding back into absolute rule, hence the need to remind President Barrow and our coalition think tank that they owe it to the Gambian voters to deliver on the coalition premise through which they came to power. Collectively, several parties harnessed their human and material resources under the amicable ambience of Mrs Fatoumata Tambajang’s selfless tutelage. That shrewd painstaking and persuasive prowess that cajoled voters to the coalition philosophy against the valour of the then President Jammeh, must continue, to deliver that promise. I therefore, humbly call on Mrs Tambajang to once again be our torch bearer for the coalition 2016 crisis management and paving the best collective way forward to save our fragile democracy.
Alh Yahya Ceesay