Almami Taal UDP Spokesperson
While reading the adjournment debate of the National Assembly from the standard newspaper of the 24th December, I was surprised and frankly disappointed by some of the remarks of Hon. Halifa Sallah NAM for Serekunda during his eloquent though sometimes angry contributions. I do not in any way question the wisdom of this giant (a giant in the struggle for freedom and progress in this country). However my disappointment was on the Right Honorable member’s deliberate and in my opinion illogical attempt to insinuate that the recently held peaceful protest by the 3 years Jotna movement (a non partisan civil society pressure group) is tantamount to an attempt to forcefully overthrow the democratically elected president of the country. According to the Standard Newspaper “The National Assembly Member for Serekunda has called on the 3 Years Jotna to state clearly if they intend to overthrow the government on 20 January”.
“According to the PDOIS leader, the people behind the protest should be honest to disclose to the president if they have plans to overthrow him if he refuses to step down.
“Be honest if you are going to overthrow him but do not fool the young people of this country and give the impression that there is a provision where you can remove him and all other means to overthrow him,” Sallah said”
It is perfectly normal my brother Sallah for citizens unhappy or dissatisfied with their government to seek the resignation of that government through peaceful and legal means. We have seen others going on hunger strikes and sit down strikes to achieve their goals. Mr Sallah it must be assumed by all Gambians that president Adama Barrow has the interest of this country at heart. Therefore he will voluntarily resign, I believe, or call a national dialogue than drag this country into perpetual protest and civil disobedience. This, I believe, is the hope and goal of the 3 years jotna group or at least that is what they have advocated for.
I am sure the Honorable gentleman is not questioning the integrity of the leadership of the protest movement as most were very instrumental in the victory of 2016 when most of these leaders contributed wealth and sweat for their country. However Hon. Sallah must, should and can make a difference between forcing a government to resign and overthrowing a government. The former is perfectly legal and not uncommon in a democracy, while the latter is not only illegal but very undesirable in today’s political realities.
Response of Halifa Sallah
Mr Almami Taal,
Putting party political leanings aside I know Mr Alamami Taal to be a jurist with scholarly inclinations. I have always acclaimed his prospects in becoming an accomplished scholar but his political orientation is still too fluid for me to situate in the political landscape. In that regard, we will continue to agree to disagree.
Taal chose to critique my deliberation during the adjournment debate but did ended up inventing quotations as a deliberate attempt to turn fiction into facts just to try to push my irrefutable and carefully guarded statements into fiction. Clarity however cannot be alloyed with fiction no matter how cunningly the quotations are crafted.
The pen of the UDP administrative secretary first started to become crooked when he turned his back at my very words and quoted the Standard to commence his critique.
According to him, The Standard wrote
““According to the PDOIS leader, the people behind the protest should be honest to disclose to the president if they have plans to overthrow him if he refuses to step down.
“Be honest if you are going to overthrow him but do not fool the young people of this country and give the impression that there is a provision where you can remove him and all other means to overthrow him,”
Search, every sentence in my speech and you would not find such a quotation which someone in Standard Newspaper concocted without any reasonable justification other than to pit me against the movement.
I have met a cross section of the mobilisers of the movement. All Gambians know that three-year jotna is not a homogenous group.
Some are in the movement as activists of conscience whose aim is to demonstrate peaceably to prick the conscience of the President to honour his promise to resign after three years followed by elections and have not made any threats to overthrow the government if the president opts to stay in office for the rest of the five year term.
On the other hand, others in the movement have threatened to force the president to step down if he opts not to resign.
It goes without saying that these two undercurrents have been co-existing without clarity on the legality of each agenda.
I made it my duty to clarify the legality so that those who opt to make the country ungovernable would know the implication of their decision and should also be ready to shoulder the peril or the cost. We should not allow for another Sandeng Scenario after Gambians have been empowered to remove governments in a peaceful manner if they so desire.
Very recently, young people occupied the streets of Serre-kunda in a demonstration. Arrests and trials followed and no one saw any free legal services being rendered or no protests for their release from remand followed.