Gambians’ democracy oscillating between graciousness and defiant: A Wake up call for the Coalition

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By Solo Demba

 

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The President’s concession statement was applauded by many because it was seen as a gracious act by an incumbent to accept defeat without casting doubt on the election results.

 

While the rejection of the same result may be construed as an assault on democracy, it seems right as it is necessary in a democratic society. Of course, political parties have the legal right to challenge election outcomes in order to maintain the integrity of the process. This challenge provides an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to dispense justice in an unimpeachable manner that will certainty establish the independent and impartiality of the Judiciary. What seems odd with this challenge was its timing, this raises the question whether it designed to attract maximum attention and obscure some important happenings.

 

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Undoubtedly, it is uncommon for election to be rigged by opposition parties in Africa given the state control over of the electoral process. It was Mr President who declared the election as the fairest in the world. Indeed, the Gambian people are reasonably expected to believe the words of their President. That explains why they believe the election was fair and free, so there is no need to challenge the result Mr President.

 

However, if Mr President changed his mind to challenge the result because of alleged election irregularities, he is right in doing so. While we cannot allow selectivity to violate rule of law, it is absolute necessary for a functional competent Supreme Court to hear the President’s case for the interest of justice. Any attempt hastily install a functional court does not sit comfortably with the principle of justice, “as justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”. Moreover, it is against all common reason for the Executive to settle a dispute in which it is party to, by appointing judges who may be consciously biased towards the Government’s case defies sense of fairness.  This crisis reveals an important constitutional matter which must be resolved to limit the power of the executive.

 

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The Coalition has a duty to ensure that there is balance and checks entrenched in the constitution to prevent arbitrary use of state power. As an optimist, I do hope fair minded judges will not allow politicisation of judicial decision whenever the challenge arrives in court.

 

The assumption that a man will relinquish power without an attempt to cling to it represents a utopian view. The reality is that, a passion that drove man to assume power is fire that can hardly be extinguished by indecisive political opponents. Men have the propensity to be blinded by greed, selfishness irrationality, when they are faced with an ultimatum of power transfer engendered by ball box rejection. As they feel sense of rejection they are bound to be oblivious to unequivocal voice of the people. The current situation in the Gambia could foreclose a path to Gambians unity, and further fuels division in our society if the Government fails to do the right thing. Gambians!!Let put the interest of the country first!! The Gambia belongs to all Gambians.

 

In my view, Coalition’s approach seems ambivalence at best. It is imperative for the Coalition to impart coherent and clear message in order to competently fill the power vacuum created by the outcome of the election. Since conceding defeat the incumbent has become a lame duck in many senses. The Coalition should have been bold to spell out in clear terms how it intends to govern and move the country forward for all Gambians including APRC, GDC supporters.

 

Sending mixed messages about future prosecutions seemed to have energized the Government to find ways in halting peaceful transfer of power. Such has bolstered the Government’s stance and provides opportunity for political parasitism. Gambian people deserve more detail about the plans to revive the country rather than making abstract statements. The Coalition’s communication strategy must be robust and effective to offer Gambians hope of change. It could deploy communication medium that transcends beyond borders of the Gambia. It must be seen as viable alternative to serve all Gambians with no witch hunting agenda.

Gambian politicians servants must hold their nerves and expressively condemn any attempt to outflank the express will of the people. It is time to us to stand for principle and justice. History will judge us by ours action. What is good in life without justice and freedom? Better to die than to live a slave. Let us stand for what we believe in.

 

Certainly, the condemnation by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is welcomed as it carries clear message to the Gambia Government that the world will not stand by and allow Gambian people to be stripped of their sovereign right lawfully exercised on the 1st of December. Although UNSC Resolution is more desirable because of its immediate binding effect, it is inherently difficult to obtain consensus especially when the hegemony powers ’interest are at stake. Given absent of rivalries for vested interests and the geopolitical insignificance of the Gambia, it may well be possible to for UNSC to reach a consensus on a resolution, Furthermore; it may see the necessity to protect the principle of democracy, the very value of the hegemony powers. While external intervention could trump the UN Charter, the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects to fundamental rights.

 

I suggest that moral consideration justifies international intervention to maintain international order and security of the Gambians. For instance, this was the case in Kosovo. Therefore, OAU ECOWAS, UNSC must use all their powers to stop the current situation from spiraling out of control. Senegalese Government’s role must be strengthened through bilateralism and a possible consideration unilateralism. Let me be clear here, if the international community fails to take bold action to put the situation under control, perhaps, they are either arrogantly in sensitive to the plight of Gambians, or they have not yet learnt from history of world conflicts.

 

I urge UNSC to be swift in their actions to prevent arbitrary use of state power against ordinary citizens. We cannot allow states sovereignty to be used as façade to abrogate Gambians human rights guaranteed under the Gambian Constitution. I conclude with the words from distinguish international scholar, Martti Koskenniemi: “If sovereignty is an expression of community liberty and self-rule, then surely it cannot be permitted to destroy them”.

 

I urge all actors to give high consideration to the above words in their effort to solve this crisis.

 

God bless. Forward with The Gambia.

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