#Article (Archive)

New Political Party leader addresses Gambians

Jan 29, 2009, 4:42 AM





Fellow Gambians:

I am thankful to Allah, for your prayers and concerns during my hospitalisation for life threatening injuries. In particular, I am profoundly grateful to my family and colleagues at the Bar for their timely intervention in help saving my life. Let me report that my recovery has been phenomenal, thanks in large part to them. Many thanks go to my friends as well, for their care and support during this traumatic life-changing experience. I would love to be amongst your midst today, but my doctors have not yet given me the final nod to completely abandon care and return home, even though the confidence in my health condition has never been so real like now. Therefore, I am obliged to heed medical advice, and that is why I am conditioned to communicate to you through the media in this way, and at this time, and not in person. I miss you, I love you Fellow Gambians, and I look forward to returning to our Homeland.

I would like to introduce to you your new political Movement, The Gambia Moral Congress, which I am fortunate to lead at this challenging time. You will also get the chance to know, hear from our other Leaders on different occasions. We intend to share with you our Enduring Values to serve as some of the reasons for our formation. We urge you to read on.

Today we witness a new beginning in the annals of Gambian history; a new beginning that shall usher in a new era of hope, freedom and prosperity for all Gambians. Today, we proclaim the dawn of a new era; an era that shall be defined by the genuine triumph of the will and aspirations of our peoples who have for too long endured under a political system characterised by cult patronage of apocalyptic proportions. More importantly, today, at this historic moment, we declare the ferocious imminence of total victory against the malignant forces of organised political deception in our Nation.

Today, we embrace the coming into effect of our Future which is NOW, and the rise of this Great Land to towering heights of inconceivable possibilities - a people who firmly believe that the purpose of government is to act as the SERVANTS of the people and NOT as their MASTER; a people who are staunch in the irrevocable conviction that freedom and independence are priceless, and must be pursued persistently and valiantly till conclusive victory, knowing that power never concedes anything by itself. Today, with sombreness, we draw inspiration from the fundamental principle contained in the historical lessons of Sankandi - the lesson that freedom based on popular but discretionary loyalty and consent of the governed is worth the ultimate sacrifice. Today, we re-affirm our unwavering faith in the might of reason over raw power.

Today, we seek to accelerate the celebration of the triumph of Democracy - a day when journalists shall be free to practice their creed without fear of persecution; when Judges and Magistrates shall be subordinate only to the Constitution of the Land without the wanton desecration of the concept of judicial tenure; when the people's elected deputies shall accord due prominence only to the people's business in Parliament instead of compulsive partisanship without fear of retribution; when all law enforcement agencies shall collectively practice allegiance to the Constitution and Sovereignty of The Gambia.

Today, Fellow Gambians, we proclaim the dawning of a transformational era, when teachers in our schools and lecturers in our centres of higher learning shall be free to teach in accordance with the highest academic values - to unleash the noble pursuit of intellectual and scientific excellence from pernicious political bondage; when the civil and public services shall be the hallmark of objectivity, ingenuity, innovation, discipline, patriotism, service and sacrifice in the over-riding national interests; when freedom itself shall be expanded, and the gates of equal opportunities for all Gambians opened for good. This we DECLARE for and on behalf of generations of Gambians here at home and around the world. Together, we shall make leaders and elected representatives truly accountable to the people, instead of the whims and caprices of the few; and to take purposeful steps in redeeming our sovereign reputation.

Today, we proclaim our Friendship with the world, to join the global community in the fight against poverty and disease, tribalism, xenophobia, civil strives and its diabolical impacts on civilians, the building of strong sustainable economies, the integration of African economies into the world economy, food security, the fight for peace, security, international diversity, the environment, and cooperation with civil societies around the world to achieve global values such as democracy, good governance, the rule of law, racial harmony, gender issues, child rights, globalisation, etc. Today, we connect our hearts to our fellow Africans everywhere and declare that securing and strengthening the interests of Africa shall be the primary focus of our diplomacy, and relations with the Republic of Senegal at the fore-front. Together, we shall work towards rapid bilateral economic cooperation, political concord, and finally resolving for good the diplomatic impasse massively accentuated by a sustained policy of insincerity, propaganda and indifference.

Together, we shall bring peace to The Gambia's southern frontier settlements that are the constant victims of armed incursions, and other violent crimes. Together, we shall ensure that The Gambia-Senegal basin is weapons free, and free of armed bandits masquerading, and those who harbour them or patronise them. We believe that it is in The Gambia's national security interests to work for and support the speedy, but peaceful resolution of the Casamance imbroglio as a first measure, prior to other measures. We shall induce firm confidence in our Special Preferential Relations with Senegal, not only because both Nations have no better options to the contrary, it is equally the persistent demand of peoples on both sides of the border as the only right thing to do. This unique preferential relation must be based on unwavering sincerity, demonstrable mutual respect for sovereign independence and integrity, and sovereign equality for it to endure.

These are the vital elements which must inspire and command our attitude towards each other at the highest level. We believe that The Gambia's national interests are best protected and advanced by promoting peace and cooperation rather than confrontation and conflict.

Above all, a GMC government foreign policy shall be citizen-centred by which we shall not flinch to utilise the full effects of our sovereign diplomatic goodwill to protect every single Gambian on foreign shores. We consider our diplomatic resources a formidable national asset, and shall empower capacity, enhance and expand the role of the Department of State for Foreign Affairs, with increased resources and facilities. Let each and every Gambian, where ever you may be at this hour, and no matter your condition, circumstance or status, be confident that we are always on your side and we shall always be with you. In particular, those Gambians who are compelled or impacted by the circumstances of on-going political practices, or sought refuge elsewhere, be informed that indeed help is on the way. You shall once gain reunite with your families, loved ones and friends here back home, in dignity, freedom and prosperity.

Today is also opportunity to express appreciation to Hon. Ousainou Darbo, Leader of the UDP for his patriotism, in the growth of pluralism. Gratitude is owed to Hon. Hamat Bah NRP, Hon. Halifa Sallah & Hon. Sidia Jatta NADD, Hon. Omar Jallow PPP, and Hon. Henry Gomez GPDP, for their commitment to the national cause. Albeit GMC has fundamental philosophical differences from them all, our message is one of cooperation and consultation within, NOT confrontation. Our approaches to politics may differ, but we should share the common goal of providing prosperity for our citizens. This shared objective far exceeds any artificial differences that may be invented by some. However, The Gambia Moral Congress believes that prosperity is not to be measured by wealth or worldly gains alone. There is a higher prosperity - the health of the mind and the spirit and the quest to lead a righteous and sober life.

We believe that leadership is inspiration, not just by example. We cannot demand sacrifice and defiance from our people when we could be found wanting in that regard; when we fail to unite for a common cause, we lost all justification to anticipate loyalty; when we exhibit addiction to Party power for its own sake without giving others opportunity to experiment, we lost our bearing and when we militate against new thinking instead of embracing change, we get swept away by the tide of historical irrelevance. These are vestiges of the failed past, and today, this new Movement spearheads a bold new direction radically different from business as usual.

It is now our time - to confront long term challenges that have been neglected; to restore the balance; to invest in our future; to set a realistic vision for ourselves to become the best educated country, the most skilled economy in the region, and best trained work force in Africa; to build modern infrastructure that lays a platform for future growth, laying the foundations for long term prosperity. This emerging Leadership can get us there with your support, and our enduring values will help set our course for the future, and united by a common hope for our future. We are committed to building a modern competitive economy that competes successfully in the global marketplace for agriculture, resources and services. We believe that our long term prosperity will be at risk if we rely too heavily on one sector of the economy for our economic growth. We believe that in the long term, building a modern competitive economy is the best way of securing good living standards for Gambians. By building long term prosperity, we can also ensure that our Nation will be able to create and sustain high quality public services and a generous safety-net for those in need.

Our commitment to a fair and equitable society is at the foundation of our approach to government. Fairness will be a guiding principle for a GMC government in all aspects of government policy and initiatives, whether dealing with labour matters, access to educational opportunities, justice delivery, entrepreneurial aspirations, health-care or community services. As a Nation, we will be at our best when we can work together for the common good. We believe that governments should play an important role in building stronger relationships at each level of our society. A GMC government will strengthen the strong role played by community organisations in both helping individuals in need and in building a sense of community. We are committed to building communities that embrace cultural diversity - a society that celebrates diversity, tolerates and respects divergent views.

Today, we extend our solidarity to members of The Gambia Labour Union, the Teachers Union, the Transport Union, The Gambia Press Union, the National Union of Gambian Students, the Dock workers, and The Gambia Bar Association. We recognise and accept your rights to organise, collective bargain, and act as responsible interest groups and strategic partners to government. Together with your help, we shall ensure that the right to organise, to belong to a union and to effectively exercise such rights shall be clearly guaranteed by legal provisions, and enforceable by the courts of the land.

Together, we shall make freedom of association, which is currently under siege, truly liberated and relevant. GMC assures you that whenever your rights are threatened, and in consequence if you rise to defend or enforce your rights, we shall rise with you rain, shine, storm or torture. Our Movement's policy is to treat human rights abuse as a threat to The Gambia's national security.

Today, above all else, let us applaud the Farmers of The Gambia, the forgotten heroes/heroines and the neglected constituency that comprised the majority of the extreme poor in our Nation, a situation that remains a horrendous scar on the national conscience. GMC government shall, together with your help and support put an end to this dismal and unacceptable phenomenon. This is their struggle too, and the imminent victory shall be theirs as well. It is utterly unacceptable to us that over 85% of Gambians continue to experience very severe economic trauma. We shall issue our Economic Policy Statement in due course as we commit ourselves to seriously fight poverty with single-mindedness.

A GMC government shall empower The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry in its efforts to build formidable indigenous enterprise capacity, innovation in trade expansion, opportunity, wealth creation and corporate compassion. The Gambia ranks very low at Number 165 world-wide Global Index for protecting investors. This is highly unacceptable, and we shall change this ugly image. Lip service is all we have seen.

On this historic occasion, GMC remembers the late Deyda Hydara, a distinguished Patriot I had the privilege of working closely with as a high school student journalist over a decade ago. In this connection, GMC strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Deyda Hydara and demands that the authorities do the right thing, including the attempted murder against my dear friend, the veteran human rights lawyer Mr. Ousman Sillah. A way to sustain the memory and legacy of martyr Deyda Hydara is to demolish the shackles asphyxiating freedom of expression in particular and eliminating conditions upon which impunity thrives.

We pay homage to the late William Dixon-Colley, a pioneering champion of Gambian press freedom and the man whose ideals profoundly influence my approach to politics. We call for the Government's compliance with the Orders of the ECOWAS COURT and implement the Resolutions of the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human Rights, Abuja, regarding journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh, and all other victims of human rights atrocities, such as the Students of April 10 and 11.

Our country should be seen to respect international law as a civilised nation, for only through this would we inspire respect and reciprocity from the international community. This, to us is not a matter of politics, but one of solid principle. If we are seen to be dismantling international commitments and protocols we enter into freely with other nations and multilateral institutions, it is our sovereign integrity that massively suffers, and reflects on Gambians everywhere. This ought to be a matter of serious concern for all Gambians regardless of political inclination. We urge The Gambia Government to comply with international law our Nation agreed to abide by, such as United Nations Charter, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the protocols of the Ecowas Treaty and the African Union, particularly pertaining to our sovereign obligations on human rights. Our own Constitution, which is the embodiment of our national will, enjoins us to do just that. This is not merely an ordinary Document, it is sacred and sacrosanct.

The Scriptures (Qur'an and the Bible) teach us that God forbade torture for whatever purpose, much less the taking of another life for political reasons. The Qur'an talks about the Day of Judgment, meaning that even God who created Leaders will not condemn mankind without judging them fairly first. That is why as a Faith Nation, we should respect courts of law as Temples of Justice, not to manipulate and abuse them. One cannot seek refuge in his Faith by flouting this Divine instruction and at the same time anticipate no consequences from fellow man or God. No government should be told to treat its people decently, because that is the proper function of any government. When a government is reminded of this obligation, instead of receiving such information with dismissal and contempt, it should be opportunity for introspection and reform.

Democracy is an on-going experiment to produce better circumstances, not to rejoice in the deficiencies of political experiments and failures of political systems as pretext to deride them. Democracy is not the enemy, and should not be prostituted. We believe that human society's best invention is the political experiment of democracy often represented by the universally acclaimed essential freedoms, now condensed into the single concept of "human rights ". Rather than fear this concept and try to kill its survival, the converse survival instinct of humanity for human rights often prevails to instil fear into those combating the tide of freedom. The fact that dissent is not loud should trouble any good leader, for human history proves that systematic suppression of dissent often ends up in a political volcano.

History has shown that it is impossible to continue to deny active dissent permanently because sooner or later, human nature would find a permanent solution to that problem. The best way is to encourage dialogue and free flow of ideas. Nelson Mandela preaches that a leadership that fears the power of ideas and information would be planting its own inevitable demise. We concur.

Good leaders protect their citizens, not harm them or unleash law enforcement agencies to repress dissent. Gambians are decent people and deserve to be treated with decency. Our Movement hereby extends olive branch solidarity to all, bearing animosity towards none, and we are adamant on the irrevocable conviction that there shall be no negotiation regarding principles on sovereign constants and values. The Gambia will be best placed to confront contemporary challenges if we maintain the best values that have characterised our Nation. Many of these values have been undermined. It is time to restore the balance. We know that the truest measure of a society is the care it provides for those most in need, and the opportunity it provides for every person to realise his or her own potential.

Our Movement will be responsive to genuine engagements with all players in the political process, including the APRC for the exclusive national good, based on:

1. Predetermined, objective, result oriented, ascertainable and openly verifiable principles and actions.

2. Level playing field, transparency and fairness in the electioneering and electoral processes. If the processes leading towards an election are not free and fair, the results of such an election cannot be fair and will not be accepted, and will be rejected by Gambian voters and the international community.

3. Demonstrable commitment to the rule of law, including judicial non-interference with unbridled law enforcement neutrality.

4. Demonstrable commitment to full and sincere implementation of inter-Party agreements, and negotiated principles, MoUs, etc.

We believe that The Gambia belongs to us all equally. If we all genuinely make The Gambia our passion, go to work every day to achieve the means of securing the interests of Gambians, we should be able to forge healthy and spirited debates on issues about the way forward. Our doors shall remain open for consultations and consensus building. The Leadership of our Party has no illusions as to the enormity of the tasks ahead, or as to the likely reaction of our formation from established political ranks. We also know about the predicament of prisoners and detainees or those who graduated from incarceration. We are not trapped by naivety nor could we be lured by false sense of security. We shall remain sharply vigilant at all times.

The Gambia National Congress is about The Gambian people, and belongs to the people. We seek to bring about the urgent change you require, but this can only be done with your support and help. The power to change is in your hands for no government, regardless of how autocratic or brutal it may be, can successfully continue to survive if the people, the citizens in whose hands power lies, take the gauntlet and demand change. You, the people can change and improve your political and economic conditions by voting in a Congress government, and if you do so in sufficient numbers, you shall bring about the change you require. Nelson Mandela again preaches that there are limits even to highly sophisticated or professional vote rigging and voter intimidation during election times, and we know those limits. In The Gambia too, you the citizen voter has the compelling power to influence the political direction no matter how seemingly powerful an individual or system might appear.

Such power is mere illusion because real power is in your hands. You can also support our ground efforts with your financial contributions and other resources.

The awesome power those in government appear to wield is made possible by you. If you the people decide to withdraw your political support, you will easily find that they are powerless without you. It is you Gambian voters and citizens who made them powerful, so real power is yours, and you can demonstrate this power by choosing to join us, vote for us in your largest numbers, fund us, and take part in a new democratic Movement. Believe in yourselves. We invite you to join and vote for our political Movement - The Gambia Moral Congress where you will be truly respected, where your opinions count, where you have equal rights and the power to succeed, and where power truly belongs to you, the peoples. Together, let us steer a bold new direction, reject past political failures and never to be associated with selfish political bickering, and heartily welcome change.

With the power of your ballot, the strength of your numerical superiority, and a new spirit of commitment, together we can bring about the change we require in The Gambia. Together, we can prove that indeed it is possible through patriotic vigilance to invent our future with our votes, and put in place your Congress government. Thank you all, and God Bless the Republic of The Gambia.

Issued on the 27th January 2008.