Bar association not pleased with Barrow’s Turkey remarks

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Gambia Bar Association said it’s concern about the glib talk made by President Adama Barrow upon his visit to Turkey in mid February 2018. The Bar said that president’s speech seemed as if he had lost his bearing as the current standard bearer of this great nation, The Gambia.

Below is the statement of both the Bar and the president himself:

The Gambia Bar Association

We the Gambia Bar Association are deeply concerned about the glib talk of the President of the Republic of The Gambia during his recent visit to Turkey, as it would seem that our President lost his bearing as the current standard bearer of this great nation, The Gambia.

We find it extremely disturbing, for reasons that we are yet to understand fully, why Mr. President suffered an inexplicable lapse of memory of the events which preceded his election to the presidency of this country. So lest it be forgotten, and for the benefit of posterity, let us retrace the path that got Mr. Adama Barrow to the high office of President of the Republic of The Gambia following the Presidential elections of 1st December, 2016.

Over a period of twenty-two years numerous Gambians indeed suffered gravely under the regime of Yahya Jammeh.  Some even paid the ultimate price with their life; and, more particularly, when Solo Sandeng and others took to the streets on the 14th day of April, 2016 to stand up for justice and fair play, and were brutally handled at the time, no one in the Country heard of Adama Barrow.

Likewise, when Ousainou Darboe and others took to the streets subsequently, to demand production of the body of Solo Sandeng, it is not known to us that Adama Barrow was even amongst them. But the whole country was aware that lawyers, members of the Gambia Bar Association, rose in court to their defence without prompting by anyone or the hope of any reward from anybody.

On the 2nd day of December, 2016, all Gambians would recall that Yahya Jammeh had spoken telephonically to Adama Barrow conceding defeat at the polls; that 7 days later he changed his mind and rejected the results of the election and proceeded with nefarious actions, familiar to all Gambians, to stay in power. The Gambia Bar Association was quick to condemn these actions publicly on Monday the 12th day of December, 2016, thus blazing the trail for other Civil Societies to do the same. The Gambia Bar Association did not stop at that; we went on, in due course, to resolve as a professional body to stage a total boycott of all the courts. Without such action, the Supreme Court would have sat and, most likely, declare the elections a nullity. Our action thus prevented this from happening.

Therefore, to the Gambia Bar Association, it does not fall in the mouth of President Barrow to make the unwarranted and incorrect statements uttered in Turkey. When any Gambian talks of courage and steadfastness of purpose during those grim days of the “Political impasse” in The Gambia, Gambians would not fail to recall the forthright statements to Yahya Jammeh by Bishop Hannah Faal Heims, in spite of the potential risk, to the effect that the people of The Gambia no longer want him to lead them and that he should do the right thing by leaving the office of President. When all this was happening, it is a known fact that for obvious reasons, Mr. Adama Barrow and family were given refuge in Dakar, Senegal, until it was declared that it was safe for him to return home to The Gambia. Most of the Gambian people, who voted for change of leadership by electing Adama Barrow, remained in The Gambia to stand their ground against the tyrant, with determination to defend their decision for change.

Mr. President must therefore accept without equivocation, that it was the courageous Gambian people who brought about the change of leadership, and not Adama Barrow per se; and that the days for political jingoism are over in The Gambia. As of now, whoever is elected to the Office of the President, is there by virtue of the will of The Gambian people. Since the people hold this power, they also have the right to express their views freely and openly on any issue or matter of their interest. That is why the President of the Republic must be readily disposed and willing to listen to all views, be they positive or negative, as this is a prescription for good governance and the establishment of a democratic culture. Any other way, would lead to bad governance and, ultimately, tyranny.

There should be no looking back, the die is cast. It is time for real work to be done to take the country forward in its quest for development and the realization of a stable democratic process. It is worthy of note, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville that“……..only outstanding ability can save a ruler who embarks on the improvement of his subjects’ lot after they have been suffering a long period of oppression. The wrong that people have been putting up with particularly while they thought it inevitable becomes unendurable the moment they can envisage shaking themselves free of it.  From that moment the removal of abuses, no matter what they are, serveonly to uncover others and make their cutting edge sharper. There is less wrong, it is true, but it is more piercingly felt.” (L’Ancien Regime, book 111 Chapter 4)

And so, on this auspicious occasion, as The Gambia celebrates the 53rd anniversary of nationhood, The Gambia Bar Association would wish to extend its congratulations to all Gambians and best wishes for a meaningful and joyous celebration of this momentous day in the life of our country. We remain pledged to continue to serve the nation within the scope of our ability as legal practitioners with utmost resolve, courage and integrity.