#Article (Archive)

Reassuring to know our Chiefs live in 21st Century

Mar 4, 2011, 10:56 AM

The comments being attributed to Chief Lamin Jammeh will come as a surprise to many Gambians, at home and abroad, who have heard talk of a controversial campaign by some chiefs for the establishment of a monarchy in The Gambia.

Indeed, this was talk of attempts to make Gambians have a King, instead of a President, and debate was ignited and raged as to whether or not that was a possibility - considering the fact that there is an existing constitution, which declared The Gambia to be a sovereign Republic, with a government headed by a President who is also the head of state.

In view of this reality, it was incomprehensible that anyone would contemplate advocating for there to be a King of The Gambia instead of a President of The Gambia.

Thus, being the scribe and spokesperson of the National Council of Seyfolu, Chief Lamin Jammeh's latest statements, when he and his colleagues called on the Speaker of the National Assembly in Banjul this week, were attention-grabbing.

Definitely, to some, Chief Lamin Jammeh's statements seemed to be a big contradiction, especially after reports, in recent times, of a campaign in some parts of the country, spearheaded by some seyfolou, to convince Gambians of the need for a king as ruler of their country.

Indeed, such reports have been carried in the local press, and the so-called kingship issue has even been raised and commented on by members in the National Assembly.

In any case, we must bear in mind that the Council, created by legal instrument, is a part of the country's governance structures, and was put in place by the executive arm of the government, whose members took the oath of allegiance to the Republic of The Gambia.

In fact, if such alleged campaign was actually carried out, it would have been, in our view, a clear subversion of the 1997 constitution which created the second Republic.

And, it is stated in the very constitution that every Gambian must be prepared to defend the constitution!

We have made this point before in this paper, and want to reiterate our position on this matter touching on the national interest.

It would be recalled that this Republic of The Gambia was established by the people who voted in a referendum to end the rule of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as head of state of Gambians.

This gave birth to the 1970 constitution, since superseded by the 1997 constitution (again approved in a national referendum) which, as we all know, also provided for creation of a Second Republic.

It is clear, therefore, that on two momentous occasions, when the Gambian people were asked to decide, on matters of great national importance touching on their sovereignty (which means the ability to take a decision, compared to self-determination, which means the right of a people to decide how they want to be ruled), they choose to ensure that sovereignty resides in the people, and not a monarch.

This is because, going by lessons learned from history, Gambians like people elsewhere in the world, have experienced and heard and, therefore, know what kings could become – claimants to a divine right to rule forever because they were destined to be leaders over their people by the Almighty Allah.

It won't stop there, soon they would claim that they have special powers, and are their people's saviour - again as history has demonstrated.

History has shown that this was the case, in the past, and why anyone would think that Gambians, knowing all this, would want to owe allegiance to one person and not to their country, beats the imagination.

It is, therefore, reassuring that the chiefs of this country, our traditional rulers, going by the pronouncements of their spokesperson, have publicly declared that they are believers in the supremacy of the popular will, and do associate themselves with the thinking of all democrats who live in this world of the 21st century.