Wednesday, October 23, 2019

THE TEST: Will President Barrow Score High Marks Or Low Marks?

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Foroyaa would have devoted its editorial on the state funeral of the former President if Killa Ace and 36 others were not incarcerated on a day when Gambia was mourning the death of its first president. What an irony! How on earth could this be explained? Which nation on earth would have a heart that would entertain 37 young people sent behind bars whilst information regarding the death of its first President was spreading like wild fire? What image would President Barrow’s government have if these youth were to be convicted and sent to jail? Foroyaa remembers cautioning the Jammeh government to regard the stone throwing at St. Augustine’s as civil disobedience rather than a conspiracy just to commit crime. That government which is classified as autocratic did not make the destruction and public disorder a police matter. The Kartong case involving the youth of Kartong also never proceeded as a police matter. The case of the President’s Award Scheme falls in the same band wagon.

So far, the nation has been giving President Barrow the benefit of the doubt, after some youths died in cold blood in Faraba Banta, the same in Kanilai. We should not forget that the counting is on and how this government reacts to civil disobedience will determine whether we will have recurrence of April 10 again or prevent recurrence.

Governments that teach lessons through heavy handedness by threatening to send protestors to hotels or six-foot deep in the ground must end doing so in order to try to suppress dissent by instilling fear. Governments that seek to contain civil disobedience and promote law abiding behaviour must depend on committees of the wise to give counsel to those who have grievances and may not know how to express them in a lawful and fruitful manner. To turn to coercion for solution is to equally acknowledge that there are no wise men and women to give counsel to the young to seek ways of solving problems other than violence and destruction.

Spilt milk cannot be recovered. The wise thing to do is to prevent recurrence. The heart of the nation is not only with the ex-President today, it is also with Killa Ace and young people whose liberty is at stake at this very moment after tension has been reduced by wise counselling. To defy common sense and spirit of tolerance is to fail the first test of democratic governance. Will President Barrow pass the test? The future will tell. History will take note. Posterity will pass judgment.

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