press releaseBy Ousman Njie
The rumour of an impending armed insurrection emerging from Online papers is spreading.The Gambian people would recall that a man by the name of Shiekh Sidia Bayo, who is said to be a French citizen of Gambian descent, has had a Press Conference with the Senegalese media, on Thursday 13th of September 2012 and announced the establishment of a transitional government comprising 35 people for the Gambia and promised that his forces would be in Kanilai within weeks.
As the weeks elapsed a threat was issued by one Yankuba Darboe, who claimed to be the Minister of Justice that; President Jammeh should hand over power within a month or face insurrection.
Recently, an ultimatum was issued through the Online papers giving President Jammeh up to 10th November 2012 to relinquish power or face insurrection.
PDOIS has been studying the political situation to get the reaction on the ground. What is evident on the ground is that the ultimatum has not caused any panic because the people do not know what and what not to believe.
The Jammeh administration is quiet on the issue and is conducting business as usual. In fact, a few days ago, the US Ambassador submitted his credentials to officially assume his post in the Gambia. There is nothing being done or said to confirm or dismiss the threat of an impending insurrection. This is the internal state of things. Externally our immediate neighbour, Senegal, has not broken diplomatic relations with the Jammeh administration and has not recognized any transitional government. Few days ago, a former Director of Senegalese Radio and TV was appointed as Senegalese High Commissioner to the Gambia. Needless to say, in geopolitical terms no transitional Government for the Gambia could hope to gain recognition from any ECOWAS, AU or UN body without recognition from Senegal. This is the first point to note.
Secondly, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US State Department have not issued any travel advice to their citizens.
Furthermore, the threats that are reported to emanate from the transitional council did not state who President Jammeh should relinquish power to. Under the Gambian Constitution it is the Vice President who should take over when the President resigns.
It goes without saying that none of the communication from the council is done through a document bearing a public seal that gives the appearance that it is from a Government, a Cabinet or a Military High Command. There is neither certainty nor clarity regarding the source and content of the ultimatum. There is nothing stating who decided what ,in consultation with which international authority and what concretely is to be done to comply with the ultimatum.
Every insurgency ends with diplomatic initiative to ensure political settlement. Hence an organised government in exile would never commence insurrection without elaborating it's military, diplomatic and political objectives for the international community to take note of and on which the internal stakeholders, government, the opposition and civil society could rely on to determine its viability and seriousness.
It is this lack of clarity and certainty regarding the issue at hand which has compelled PDOIS to assume its historical responsibility as a consistent defender of the Republic and the sovereignty of the people, to give the clarity and the certainty that the people desire.
PDOIS does not keep quiet over matters of life and death. We do not wait for things to happen and then write history to apportion blame. We have never sat down to twiddle our thumb while Gambia burns. We have always shown willingness to be in the heart of the fire and risk being burnt to save the Republic and defend the sovereignty of the people.
In 1994 all political forces were silent and we chose to speak. We hope that the Gambian people would always remember the political force which is always willing to stand up and address the concerns of the Republic and the sovereign people and give clarity and certainty in their times of greatest need to allay uncertainty and confusion.
A Government in exile or an armed opposition
As a legitimate legal opposition party that considers itself a a credible alternative, we have a duty to try to understand the nature of any group which establishes itself as a force for change. It is therefore important to know whether the group is a government in exile or an armed opposition.
A Government in exile is one that is recognised by a significant number of countries in the international community and is able to conduct diplomatic relations and sign contracts as the bona fide government of a country. The Government of Ahmed Tijan Kaba during the Sierra Leonean crisis is an example.
In 1994, if Jawara's administration was provided sanctuary in another country and given recognition by most countries and international agencies it could have served as a Government in exile since the coup makers would not have been able to conduct any international transaction on behalf of The Gambia.
The transitional Council established by Shiek Sidia Bayo could only be taken as a Government in exile if they could show proof that they are recognized by some governments in the world and that they are doing transactions in the name of the people of the Gambia. If they cannot show such proof the most one could do is to classify them as an armed opposition, once they take up arms.
The political trends and the Way forward
There is a trend in Gambian politics which is promoting the view that the fastest way to change the Gambia, within weeks and months and bring an end to human rights violations, is through armed insurrection. Such people rely mainly on the social media mixing civil rights and military struggles by calling for protests and demonstrations against human rights violations and armed insurrection to end the Jammeh administration. This is one political trend. History will be the judge of the viability of the trend.
There is the trend of the ruling party which is conducting business as usual. It has not created an environment conducive to multi party contest or the functioning of a human rights commission or rights groups and a free and critical media both at the state and non state level, that would hold government accountable to the people for violation of rights or mismanagement of resources. The outcry engendered by the executions did lead to concessions such as the release of prisoners but has not given rise to the commuting of death sentences to life as a commitment to an irreversible moratorium on the death penalty. The government needed to show that it has the capacity to re-invent itself by addressing the major criticisms against it at home and by the global community and adopt a self propelled initiative towards electoral reform, enlargement of freedom of the media and ensure protection of and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms without
waiting for mediators. Hence its commitment to the standards of best practice in governance is still in doubt. History will also pass its judgment on such a trend.
The last political trend is one paved by the legal opposition. We cannot speak for other parties but could safely assert that PDOIS has proposed how human rights could be defended and the democratic space expanded to make change inevitable by relying on the people. We have told the people that if they want the Jammeh administration to be spoken to with the voice of an opposition party that it would listen to, they must turn their backs at his party and appear in their tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands at rallies of its alternative. Once a government realises that it is losing the people to its adversaries it would listen to them and make concessions upon demand.
It goes without saying that if the people turn up in their hundreds of thousands to vote, change would come. Hence what those who want human rights to be defended and change to come should do is to volunteer to enlighten, mobilise and organize the people to empower a party that could rely on their power to defend their interests.
DE- MYSTIFYING THE LINKING OF BRAVERY TO THE GUN
Individuals alone or in association with others could engage in civil disobedience to combat injustice. We have done so to end the witchcraft tragedy. Politics of empowerment is about the power of the people in concert with the power of instruments, institutions and norms of democratic governance. Power must talk to power to effect democratic reforms and democratic change. Those who want human rights protection today and change by 2016 should mobilise the people to give the opposition the power of numbers over the incumbent. No leader on earth has ever been able to defy the power of numbers. Power concedes to no one but superior power.
PDOIS therefore has more faith in the power of the people than the power of the barrel of the gun. We have witnessed the 1981 Coup. We were detained in 1983 for six months and found on death row some members of the revolutionary council established by the coup makers. They appeared very broken. We had to give every prisoner courage even though they had carried weapons in the name of revolution. We gathered the lesson that in many armed insurrections many insurgents are driven by the sentiments of the moment and assurance of quick victory given by their marabouts.Hence once they are struck by unexpected difficulties they often become confused and disoriented.
Bearing a gun is not an affirmation of bravery. The gun is just a tool. Bravery comes from insatiable love of truth, justice and willingness to give one's life in their defence.
In 1994, the coup makers ordered all political figures to go on holiday and be quiet. We in PDOIS said with all the authority at our command that no one has yet been born and will ever be born who would have the capacity to obstruct our right to speak and defend the Republic and the sovereignty of the people with impunity. We were arrested, detained and tried bug no one could silence our voices. We remained active and visible defenders of the Republic and the sovereignty of the people throughout the coup period. No person becomes a super human by bearing a gun.
When guns were being used during April 10 and 11 2000 we were in the streets to protect the children and our report which is a part of the report of the commission of enquiry is a living testimony. When Senegalese were targeted for revenge for alleged mal- treatment of Gambians in Senegal after a football march, we were in the streets to protect them and foil the attacks. When the Witch hunters paraded Gambian citizens as witches or people possessing evil spells, including security personnel we engaged in a defiance campaign and got arrested and remanded in custody with death row prisoners but succeeded in bringing the tragedy to a complete stop.
It is also evident that we took a determined position to put a stop to the executions and helped all concerned persons to have sound arguments to support the abrogation of the death penalty. Most concerned persons relied on the facts we presented regarding Lamin Darboe and the light we threw on procedures to conduct their advocacy campaigns.
We therefore want the Gambian people to know that PDOIS has the courage to do whatever is necessary to facilitate the liberation of the people.
PDOIS AS AN ALTERNATIVE
PDOIS is therefore committed to intensify its mobilisation of the people to tame impunity in the short run and promote respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and then go further to effect political change to bring about the third Republic in 2016.
We are working for the creation of Sovereign Republic embodying a sovereign people whose unity will transcend ethno-lingistic, religious, gender,Caste, Narrow naionalist and ideological divides that would ensure the nurturing of the sovereign person who would have power to act, in concert with like minds to determine who governs their country and determine how it is to be done to promote their liberty and prosperity.
PDOIS raised awareness, spread the truth and defended justice and will continue to do so, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
We have shown how sovereign national wealth will be harnessed from mines like the one in Sanyang and many other sources of National wealth to guarantee the availability and affordability of social services and utilities as well as to further enhance infrastructural development so as to address the problems of poverty, during one five year term.
We are willing to concede for a PDOIS sponsored President to serve only one term to ensure constitutional, legal, institutional, and normative reforms to truly remedy all injustices, encourage media freedom and construct the open society that could nurture the enlightened and indomitable sovereign Gambian who would be the embodiment of the sovereignty of the Republic.
Instead of investing hundreds of thousands to patronise voters to win their votes, we have spent it on cassettes, pamplets and tours to enable the people to know themselves, their country and the world so that they would be empowered to be the architect of their own destiny.
We have shown our capacity to unify the nation by fighting all causes that affect all and excluded none, even the cause of children without nationality under the current backward laws who are deprived of citizenship because they happen to be born in the Gambia of parents who are not Gambians but have not been shown how to naturalise to be Gambians, even though many elites send their wives to the US to deliver just so that they could be US citizens.We have promised to put an end to the statelessness of such Africans in their homeland.
We have struggled against Narrow nationalist sentiments which attribute the growth of crime to foreign Nationals.We indicated that Gambia will be a country of sovereign communities that would be organised into democratic councils from the level of village, ward neigbourhoods,districts, divisions and municipalities, a country of strong civil society organisations, Trade unions, Associations of right groups and associations of foreign nationals who would meet to democratically elect representatives who would get recognition from the state and who would be able to knit their communities together so tat they could influence each other positively to address the problems of alienation and crime.
We lay claim to the power to promote consciousness, truth and justice and are just waiting for the power of the people to come to our aid by voting for us so that we could steer the country on the path of liberty and prosperity.We promise that once we have the support of the people the Third Republic will be born in 2016.
Conclusion and the way forward
Gambia is in a state of flux. We are willing to give guidance at each turn of the country so that our ship of state will anchor on safe shores.
Just as combatants sit down to negotiate a peaceful settlement of disputes, PDOIS supports the meeting of opposition parties to select a liaison to prepare the ground to draw Jesse Jackson to promote negotiation for electoral reform.We will welcome the completion of such selection by Friday, November the 9th .
Sidia is currently in Europe and we intend to intensify registration of membership and diplomatic contacts to raise the profile of the party as an alternative to the existing government.
We do not have monopoly on how to effect change but we hope all those who intend to bring it about would not send the society into the stone age . We will not be a witness to such an eventuality.
That the twenty first century is the century of the sovereignty of the people is a proclamation sealed by history and it is irrevocable.
Hence those who have reigned for more than two terms should find a civilized way to find an exit. We call on those who aim to wage an armed insurrection to read our statement and take a realistic and wise decision that serves to consolidate the Republic and the sovereignty of the people. Anything less will be a historical tragedy.