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GMC says gov’t reaction to ECOWAS ‘lacks merit’

Dec 7, 2011, 12:20 PM

The opposition Gambia Moral Congress has said that last week’s reaction by the Government of the Gambia to the ECOWAS Commission for not sending its Election Observer mission to the 24th November presidential election lacks merit.

A statement issued by the party and signed by its leader, Mai Ahmad Fatty, who returned home to join the opposition campaign trail ahead of the November polls, said the Government of The Gambia failed to address and respond to the specific issues contained in the ECOWAS press release.

It said, among others, that the government failed to prove the ECOWAS Commission wrong with any facts to the contrary.

Below we reproduce the full text of the GMC statement verbatim:

The condemnation by The Gambia Government of the decision of the Ecowas Commission not to send its Election Observer Mission lacks merit. It is instructive that the Government failed to address and respond to the specific issues contained in the Ecowas Press Release.

It is even more instructive that the Government failed to prove the ECOWAS Commission wrong with any facts to the contrary; rather the three basis for its denunciation were peripheral, and concerned procedural matters of diplomatic intercourse.

The basis for denunciation did not respond to the substance of the matter as contained in the Ecowas Commission Report. In effect, the position of the Ecowas Commission remained unchallenged by The Gambia Government.

The Ecowas Commission cited oppression of free speech and severe restriction on political activities, and the lack of level playing field, among others. It also correctly stated that the processes leading towards the 24th November election were fundamentally flawed, and that the results of that election cannot be free and fair.

Ecowas Commission was not hoodwinked by the cosmetic political bandaging during the ten days of campaigning. It knows that elections are not about what happened on polling day alone. It accurately asserts that elections are predominantly decided by the process, and its decision was based on the means, NOT the end.

GMC is proud of ECOWAS. Its preliminary Observers did not lend themselves to be compromised by alluring factors, and for that singular reason, the integrity of ECOWAS has been substantially enhanced.

When Mamadou Tandia played God with the political system in Niger, the Ecowas Commission came to the rescue of Community Citizens, and this example has been replicated elsewhere in the Region.

The Gambia Government must wake up and accept that Ecowas has transitioned from an Ecowas of Governments to Ecowas of Peoples. The interests of community citizens are more fundamental in this equation than theatrical political camaraderie of Heads of States, particularly in a clear cut case concerning The Gambia.

H.E Ambassador Gbeho has further raised his personal profile internationally and consolidated the respect and standing of the Ecowas Commission internationally.

The Gambian people salute the Ecowas Commission President for such a bold and courageous decision, and on-going consultations within the country and in the Region affirms this.

In its Press Release, The Gambia Government pathetically seeks to take refuge in the silence of the diplomatic community as affirmation that the Ecowas Commission was wrong in adopting the position that it did. The onus is now on the diplomatic community in The Gambia to make a clear public choice and declaration for clarification to The Gambian public.

Since The Gambia Government in its denunciation of the Ecowas Commission took strength from your silence, your failure to speak out shall be deemed to serve the political goals of perpetuating the rule of fear in The Gambia.

The Gambia Government now uses the diplomatic community in its Press Release as public referees before The Gambian public. This has been spread by government’s information machinery nationwide as approval and affirmation of the style of governance as being internationally acceptable and validated by the diplomatic community in The Gambia. It now behoves you to publicly express yourselves on this stance and make your country’s policy on this matter clear to the Gambian people.

GMC reiterates that the conditions that led to the non deloyment of the Ecowas Commission Observer Mission are still relevant.

We urge The Gambia Government not to be dismissive of so obvious a phenomenon, and engage stakeholders in the political process with a view to establishing a political system that the good people of The Gambia deserve.

As the Wollof saying goes, “giss wedi, buki chi”!

Long Live the Republic of The Gambia!!

Dated the 1st day of December 2011.