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Turning a new page

Jul 27, 2015, 9:15 AM

President Yahya Jammeh has said, after his extraordinary show of forgiveness and pardoning of prisoners, that he has turned a new page in steering the affairs of this country.

The President, it must be said, has made a historic decision by pardoning more than 300 prisoners, and calling on all Gambians in exile to come back home.

It is unprecedented for any head of state in Africa to be bold enough to take such a decision.

He, therefore, deserves commendation for such a noble act.

In his pardoning declaration, he said he has opened a new page, which indeed is considered positive, as it has been welcomed by many Gambians at home and abroad, reading the reaction on social media and the local and international press.

It is necessary for all of us Gambians, wherever we may be, to appreciate and applaud the magnanimity of the President.

We call on the government and the opposition to turn a new page, and forge a new relationship that would benefit The Gambia, encourage investors and boost our development agenda.

Already, we have heard Hamat Bah, leader of the NRP and Ousainou Darboe of the UDP welcoming the decision of the President to pardon hundreds of Gambians and foreigners.

This shows that the President is on the right track, hence we must continue to pray for him and plead with him to exercise complete reconciliation by pardoning and releasing convicts from the other side of the political divide, such as UDP’s treasurer Amadou Sanneh and co.

We are also pleading with the President to minimize the frequent dismissals and arrests, as he has decided to turn a new page, and that people detained for up to 72 hours should be released or charged.

Government should also use this opportunity to improve its relations with the media, by scrapping all anti-media laws, and granting media houses access to government information.

We are, however, calling on all Gambians to put all hands on deck as we move towards national reconciliation, unity and progress for The Gambia. We are all one - or at least we should be - and it is our job, our duty, and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek the salve of reconciliation.

When all is said and done, President Jammeh has done the unimaginable, even compared with other heads of state around the world.

Such acts by the President of the nation will certainly ensure peace, love, harmony and progress in our country.

"Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action."
Malcolm Fraser