Monday, June 24, 2019

Mr. President, the recent threats made by your Interior Minister and Youth Adviser at a political rally in Brikama is the least we expected from senior government officials, most especially at a time when the country is still going through a transition.

It is a matter of great concern that the Minister of Interior, Ebrima Mballow, would associate protesters with ‘troublemakers’ and to go further to say that the police will use the water canon trucks to spray hot water on them. While Henry Gomez, youth advisor was also quoted as saying that would-be demonstrators risk being shot if they conduct protest marches demanding President Barrow steps down after 3 years.

Mr. President, we want to remind you and your government that people have a right to freedom of expression, assembly and to demonstrate peacefully. These are fundamental rights guaranteed in our constitution and under regional and international treaties and conventions that we have ratified. Therefore, issuing such kind of threats was the least we expected from senior officials of your government. This is not what we fought for as a nation when we got rid of Jammeh and voted you into office.

We sacrificed all as a nation just to ensure that we put an end to dictatorship, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, and violations of human right, unlawful detentions, among a host of others. Such threats only serve to remind us of where we came from: the loss of lives, exiles just for standing up for what we believe to be our rights for 22 years of the Jammeh rule.

We expected the presidency to issue a statement and distancing itself from such kind of statements. We also expect apologies to the populace, rather than keeping silent on this issue.

Mr. President, on the other hand, we welcome the move taken by the government to purchase water cannon trucks. We believe that if these water cannon trucks were around, the incident that happened at Faraba Banta, which led to the death of three, among many other injuries, would have not happened. However, using them to threaten protesters that pose no threats to national security should not be its purpose.

All Gambians also need to understand that The Gambia is still in transition. The country is just like a patient that is recovering from numerous operations. It is the responsibility of every Gambian to ensure that the peace and tranquility that the country is known for, is maintained irrespective of our differences and political affiliation.

Those that are willing to protest should make sure that they also get permits from the police so that they can be provided security just to avoid clashes with another group.

Mr. President, we expect your government, through the police, to protect citizens and allow them to enjoy their rights, freedom to assemble and protest peacefully at all times rather than issuing threats against us.

We also commend the National Human Right Commission for issuing a statement and condemning the threats from Henry Gomez and Interior Minister Mballow.

The citizenry also need to understand that we have a country to build but not a country to destroy. There cannot be any meaningful development if we are not enjoying peace and stability. Collectively, we should work together and complement each other’s efforts towards nation building.

Finally, Mr. President, we urge all Gambians, including politicians, security personnel, the youths and others to be law abiding and follow due process of the law. The Gambia belongs to all of us and we are guided by the constitution and not gentleman’s agreements.

Mr. President without wasting time, address the nation to inform Gambians officially that as required by the constitution, you will stay till 2021.

For the Gambia our homeland!

Good day Mr. President.