will start this article by trying to understand the question of a coup d’état.
What is a coup d’état?
The word “coup d’état” also known simply as a coup, is a French word, meaning an overthrow, is the illegal and overt seizure of a state power by the military or other elites within the state apparatus.
What is a military coup d’état?
The sudden violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group.
The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements. To seize the head of the executive (the seat of the power), or to kill him is the rule number one for any coup to be successful anywhere. In fact that was the main reason why the recent coup in Turkey failed, and it was one of the reason why the December coup against the autrefois head of state failed.
Where does the word coup come from?
Word Origin and History for coup.n.c.1400, from Old French coup, colp “a blow, strike” from Medieval Latin colpus, from Vulgar Latin colapus, from Latin colaphus “a cuff, box on the ear”, from Greek kolaphos “a blow, slap”. Meaning “a sudden decisive act”. Courtesy of www.dictionary.com.
We are going to base our arguments on the following reasons as to why celebrating a coup d’état should be illegitimated in The Gambia.
(1) Reason number one: “Constitutionally”, it is illegal to celebrate a coup d’état anywhere in the world. By virtue of Section (6), of the 1997 Constitution – defense of The Constitution – and it reads:
“Any person who – by himself or herself or in concert with others, by any violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogates this Constitution or any part of it, or attempts to do any such act, or
Aids and abets in any manner any person referred to in paragraph (a) commits the offence of treason and shall, on conviction, be liable to the penalty prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for that offence”. The legal justification of my argument.
(2) Reason number two: “Legally”, is a corollary to reason number one, pursuant to Section 35 (c), of the Criminal Code – Treason – “prepares or endeavor to carry out by force an enterprise which usurps the executive power of the State in any matter of both a public and in a general nature”. Furthermore Section 51 (d) and (e) of the aforesaid code – Seditious intention – and it states:-
“(d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst inhabitants of The Gambia; or
(e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of The Gambia”.
Therefore, celebrating a coup d’état has no legal justification, no moral justification, no political justification, no social justification, no cultural justification, and more so not even an economic justification. All that have been said, and all that is yet to be said, are embodied in the famous Latin maxim “extopi causa nom orithur actio”, meaning no right can be derived from the wrong. Triple Dr. Henry D.R. Carrol (M.R.G) Oxford trained lawyer and custodian of Latin maxim. Sir I salute you.
(3) Reason number three: “Politically”, celebrating a coup d’état cannot be linked to the birth of any political grouping or affiliated to the existence of any political party in The Gambia. So celebrating it, has no political justification whatsoever. It was the day when we as a nation lost our glory to the league of civilized nations. This was the day when we lost our constitutionality and the constitutionalism of our democracy. We as a nation had an interregnum – a gap in democratic dispensation and leadership for a period of 22 years. Thus, celebrating a coup d’état will go a long way in undermining our political socialization – which is a lifelong process by which people form their ideas about politics and acquire political values. Politically, whoever wants to connect APRC to July 22nd ignorantly and unintentionally you are telling us that APRC is illegitimate by birth. You mean to say that, they meant to say that APRC is born out of wedlock, whoops! I did not say that, they said that. To be honest the support base for APRC was driven by illiteracy and exacerbated by ignorance. That argument ends the political justification.
(4) Reason number four: “Socially”, social responsibility is an ethical theory, in which individuals are accountable for fulfilling their civic duty; the actions of an individual must benefit the whole of society. In this way, there must be balance between the individual and the welfare of the society. Hence a gentle reminder of Section 220 – Duties of a citizen – besides, every right comes with a responsibility. Terminus to the social responsibility argument.
(5) Reason number five: “Culturally”, culture is define as the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. In other words, culture is people’s way of life. For the past 22 years, we had a culture and a history of violence. But let’s consider this: when violence systematically targets a group or particular group of people, the resulting trauma lasts through generations. The former head of State was like “I want your stuff, but I don’t like you”, meaning you want Gambian peoples’ money, but you don’t like Gambian people”. Ironically, some of you claiming to be APRC gladiators none of you were around when the party was formed, so maybe you have worn a costume you didn’t know had a violent history, or you had the intention of having a culture in a way you didn’t realize was offensive, but you should now realize that what you learned wasn’t even close to the entire truth. Given that history, it is not a surprise that so many native people are angry about APRC fans who think they are “honoring” history.
(6) Reason number six: “Economically”, what is the cost of living? What is the cost of a bag of rice? How much is the fish-money? How many hours to study? Which movie to watch? If you are like most people, you constantly face decisions because you don’t have enough time and money to do everything. At most basic level, economic is the study of how people make choices when they face a limited supply of resources. As a piece of advice, I think what APRC supposed to embark on at this crucial time is to initiate activities that are financially rewarding and productive to the party, simply because the chief sponsor is now a fugitive. End of economic argument.
(7) Reason number seven: “Historically”, yes we cannot re-write the history, but through historiographical analysis we can redefine history and put it into its right perspective. I am not sure it’s worth keeping July 22nd celebration anymore, because it belongs to the violent and oppressive past, and not the true representation of our Gambian history. It is demonizing for people to get up and say that they are celebrating a coup d’état. July 22nd is not the birth of any political party in the Gambia, and so cannot be linked to any political grouping. Celebrating it, you are clearly and obviously celebrating a coup d’état which is condemn by the civilize world. The whole of the July 22nd scenario was a mistake - Your Lordship Almami Fanding Taal - and can only be relegated to the dustbin of history. End of historical justification for my argument.
(8) Reason number eight: “Democratically”, yes the word democracy is permissive, and it permitted choice, hence one of its definition – a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. I only hope that Abraham Lincoln the 16th president of the United States agrees with me if he were around for defining the word democracy without mentioning the words “of” “for” and “by” the people, or do I leave the political rundown of that literature to Dr. Ismalia Ceesay, our contemporary political scientist. Political conditions before the coup d’état in July 1994, the Gambia was one of the oldest existing multi-party democracies in Africa. Though we had our shortcomings but there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world, not even the Almighty America. This democratic argument ends within this democratic space.
(9) Reason number nine: “Peace and Security”, peace building is a process that facilitates the establishment of durable peace and tries to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes and effects of conflict through reconciliation, institution building (the police, army etc.), and a political as well as economic transformation. At this juncture, I may quote the three core values of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (O.S.A.A.), of the United Nations, which underscore that:
- there is ‘no peace’ without development;
- there is ‘no development’ without peace; and
- there is ‘no peace and development’ without human rights.
This nexus between peace, development and human rights symbolizes, and operationalizes the work of (O.S.A.A), and this supposed to be the formula for any meaningful development anywhere. Henceforth, it should be given its universal declaration for its applicability. Also peace and security come as a bi-conditionality i.e.
- there cannot be peace without security; and
- there cannot be security without peace.
(10 )Reason number ten: “Religiously”, 10 out of 10 “fitnah” is worse than killing. According to the Quran: Suratul (Al-Baqarah: 217) “fitnah” is a crime worse than murder. Ibn al-A’raabi summed up the meaning of fitnah when he said: “fitnah means testing, fitnah means trial, fitnah means wealth, fitnah means children, fitnah means kufr, fitnah means differences of opinion among people, fitnah means burning with fire”. Equally Christianity, also preaches against strife among people.
Matthew 12:25 – and knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid wasted; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
James 3:14 – 16: But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. We suppose to draw the line between justification and sanctification, end of religion argument.
In the final analysis: celebrating a coup d’état, will undermine and derail the whole peace process of Truth and Reconciliation efforts. We should try and stop the one-sided application of the law. In as much as we are trying to please the other camp, we should be equally sensitive to the plights of the other group as well. It will widen and increase the division within the already fragile security situation.
Of course we are aware of the whole lot of Chapter IV, a whole regime of laws are dedicated to fundamental human rights. In exercising those rights come with responsibilities, and remember your right stops at where someone else right begins. Moreover we cannot follow the rituals of the law – meaning we cannot worship the law as it is, but we can abide by the law. The laws are meant for us, and we are not meant for the laws. Those arguing that, it is their constitutional right, miss the whole constitutional argument here. I may refer them to Section 25 (4), and it reads:-
“The freedoms referred to in subsection (1) and (2) shall be exercised subject to the law of The Gambia in so far as that law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the rights and freedoms thereby conferred, which are necessary in a democratic society and are required in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of The Gambia, national security, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court”. Dr. Dawda Samba thanks for the reminder and the info.
Folks am not the type who would choose to look the other side when the State is the perpetrator or the main culprit. Ladies and gentlemen we came from a painful past.
Gambians demand dialogue and reconciliation and not jubilee celebrations.
Gambia is at cross-road, we either do things the democratic way or we are done by things the things way and get ready for the consequences. Time is of the essence, we either cut the time or time will cut us. No single opportunity need not to be wasted. We should not be that much insensitive to other people’s plight. Also we cannot take Roman holiday on other people’s distress, or in other words, we cannot take pleasure on other people’s sufferings.
In as much as we want to impress someone somewhere.
In as much as we want to please someone somewhere.
In as much as we want to worship someone somewhere.
In as much as we want to be loyal to someone somewhere.
In as much as we want to provoke some other people.
In as much as we want to insult some other people.
In as much as we want to add insult to other people’s injury.
In as much as we to add salt to other people’s injury.
In as much as we want to re-open the old wounds of some other people.
In as much as we want to derail national efforts.
In as much as we want to undermine universal efforts; and
In as much as we want to undermine national security.
It has to be done within the parameters of the law, dictates by conscience and extra plus ordinary common sense.
As the English man – John Bull said, “add salt to injury”, but I will tell John Bull that, if we allow celebrations to take place, is like we are “adding pepper to injury” only with the permission from - Queen Elizabeth II - the world’s oldest reigning monarch as well as Britain’s longest-lived monarch for not speaking Queen’s English.
Hey Johnny-come-lately or should I say Johnny-just-come, I am not trying to be animated here but that is the reality on the ground. For some of you who wants to celebrate a coup d’état, some us see it as our God’s given right to raise the Jolly Roger flag – the traditional pirate flag – consisting of white skull and crossbones on a black field. To remind you that, hey coup d’état anywhere symbolizes death.
Truth comes at a cost. We want democracy to protect us, and not to be casualties of democracy. At this juncture, if may borrow from Stephen M. Walt Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance” or to use a more modern formulation: if you see something say something.
It is also an unsettling reminder, and very disturbing one for that matter, to learn that some group of people want to hurt us as much as they could all in the name of rights.
We as Gambians demand for a definitive cancellation and banning of anything associated with the celebration of a coup d’état.
To conclude therefore, we pledge our firm allegiance to the Gambia, rededicate ourselves to the Gambia, for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Gambia.
May the law guides you, and a little bit of common sense?
Author Mr Jadama.