‘Opposition has serious grievances that needed to be addressed’

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
National Reconciliation Party leader Hamat Bah has said “there is no doubt that the opposition has serious grievances that are needed to be addressed.”

Mr Bah spoke yesterday in his office at Kairaba Avenue, in an interview with this reporter on the current political situation in the country.

“We have grievances - no doubt about that - the opposition have some serious grievances that need to be addressed,” he said.

“These grievances are the electoral reforms agenda for the opposition.”

With a new IEC chairman in place, and with the APRC and the opposition parties having agreed to restart the Inter-Party Committee initiated by the Commonwealth in 2005, Mr Bah said they are optimistic that there is room for the parties to meet on a common ground, to ensure they get part or all of the reforms the opposition parties are demanding.

“How far the optimism would go, God knows,” the NRP leader said, adding that they are dealing with an “unpredictable system of government”.

Referring to the current situation in the country, Mr Bah said they believe that for now the polity and political situation in the country has been seriously heated, because of the arrest of some militants of the United Democratic Party and other militants of a group called Concerned Citizens.

Commenting on the condition of the detainees of April 14, 2016, Mr Bah said he could not determine anything about their condition, as he is waiting to see if the government would make a statement to clear the air on their fate, especially on Solo Sandeng and two others.

“We are also receiving reports, as the statement issued by the UN Secretary General stated that the alleged number of deaths is three, according to what I gathered from many sources,” he said, adding that these are all allegations, which the government needs to clarify.

“It is important for Government to come out with a statement to give details of what has happened since the arrest of these people,” he added.

Mr Bah pointed out that, after 72 hours, those arrested should have been brought before a court of law.

“The failure to bring those people before a court has heated the polity, so much that the United Democratic Party leadership also thought that they have to express their anger and grievances for The Gambia and the world to see and hear them - that after their press briefing, the next thing to do was to go into the streets to demonstrate to show their anger and frustration about the allegations of the death of their supporter.

“In the process of doing that, Ousainou Darboe and most of his executive members were arrested, which has raised more serious concern.

“The arrest and detention of these people is not helping the situation. I, therefore, call for their immediate and unconditional release from detention.”

He continued: “I believe that the arrest of Ousainou Darboe and other executive members is not helping the situation either and it is, therefore, important that we as Gambians must understand that no matter what differences we have, the issue of killing, the issue of death should not be on anybody’s mind.

“We can quarrel, we can fight, but to the extent of people dying. I do not think that is helping anyone of us, because The Gambia is greater than all of us together.

“It is the responsibility of all Gambians, particularly those in positions of leadership, to make sure that they bring down the polity to a level that we can continue to do our job freely, fairly, honestly and sincerely; and also take into account the grievances of the opposition. “If the allegation of death is true, there must be an immediate enquiry to determine the cause of death and, if anybody is found wanting, they should be brought before a court of law.”

Mr Bah said The Gambia is at a point where all need to look forward to what is in the overall interest of the Gambian people.

Talking about the way forward between the opposition and the government, the NRP leader said:

“Some consultations have been ongoing since Monday, and it is hopeful that we should be able to tell the people soon what we intend to do towards the whole situation in the country.”

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb