By Momodou Jarju
A grassroots movement dubbed “Operation 3 years Jotna” has disclosed its determination to stage a peaceful protest come December 2019.
The movement which consists Gambians at home and abroad said in a statement that they “petition to prevent another dictatorship or self-perpetuation in The Gambia by President Adama Barrow.”
The movement stated that their rights to freedom of association, assembly, speech and movement are enshrined in the constitution of The Gambia 1997, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which Gambia is a party to.
They remarked: “We intend to fully exercise these rights by staging peaceful demonstrations to protest against President Adama Barrow’s plans to perpetuate himself in power, contrary to the letter and spirit of the Coalition MOU and his campaign pledges to the Gambian people. In doing so, we intend to fully comply with all legal procedures and requirements for holding such protests. However, we will not allow the Government to unduly restrict or violate our fundamental rights without just cause.”
The movement argued that President Barrow after two and half years into office, has chosen to disregard the third condition of Coalition agreement which asked him as the standard-bearer , once elected as President, shall head a transitional government and shall serve a 3-year term of office.
They also argued that President Barrow disregarded his election pledge to the Gambian people which contradicts the democratic ethos and consultative spirit that made the 2016 opposition Coalition and also serves as a betrayal of his campaign promise.
This is the movement’s concern. And they say President Barrow’s continuous slips in democratic dispensation which is unexpected of him further compound their concerns.
They cited instances where President Barrow appoints and removes ministers without consultation with coalition members; concentrates power in the presidency, claiming to be the driving bus; states his desire to serve for 5-years instead of 3-year term; and vying for the next presidential elections scheduled in 2021.
As a result of the aforementioned concern, the movement said they are resolute to hold Barrow to the terms of the Coalition MOU which culminated him to the helm of affairs in 2016.
Their determination, they said is based on the following shared beliefs that:
- Integrity and accountability on the part of political leaders is sine qua non to building a foundation for sustainable democratic development, good governance and the rule of law. This is particularly critical given The Gambia’s recent experience with dictatorship. They indicated that President Barrow should not renege on such a milestone agreement, which is in the best interest of our country.
- If President Barrow is allowed to renege on the Coalition MOU and contest the next Presidential election, they would be neither free nor fair. Currently, the President has created fans clubs called the Barrow Fans Club and Barrow Youth Movement, which are political quangos, aimed at misrepresenting national government’s development projects, as that of the President’s personal projects for his political gains.
- The President’s argument that he was elected on the basis of a Constitutional mandate of five years, is disingenuous at best and a deliberate political manipulation, given that he was fully aware of the Constitutional term, when he appended his signature to the Coalition agreement and when he was selling the same to the Gambia people in 2016. This sets a dangerous precedent by which politicians can easily make and break promises to the electorate with impunity.
The movement said in early March 2019, their 15 members headed to a local hotel, where Coalition members scheduled to meet to discuss the 3-year coalition agreement, to submit a petition to them, but they were arrested by the Gambia Police Force and later released on police bail on condition that they report daily to the Police.
The members were protesting along Senegambia heading to the local hotel before they were arrested. A member of the movement at a press conference in May 2019, Isatou Susoho, said they formed ‘Operation 3 Years “Jotna”’, after they heard that Fatoumata Jallow Tambang and other Coalition Partners will increase Barrow’s 3 years transition to 5 years, thus they decided to go out and protest against that decision.
Stating further, the movement said they are equally worried with the recent statements coming from President Barrow and his senior government officials regarding protests.
The movement therefore, has resolved to protest peacefully in December 2019, to ask for the resignation of President Barrow to respect the Coalition 2016 agreement.