Legal point scoring is for those armchair politicians who have neither responsibility nor care for the well being of our country. They may have valid technical constitutional points but with the current uncertainty and a leadership vacuum they are not important right now.

Some very important issues are: –

When will Adama Barrow return to Gambia and take up the presidency? He was legally elected by a clear majority and this has been upheld by ECOWAS, the AU, UN, EU and other international bodies. Jammeh’s refusal to step down created an exceptional situation whereby Barrow could not be sworn in in the normal way. Given that authorization for ECOMOG troops to enter Gambia necessary by the new president he had to be sworn in at the Gambia High Commission in Dakar, which is technically Gambian territory. Given uncertainty as to when President Barrow will return to Gambia and take office, there is an effective power vacuum which could soon undermine his credibility. Many are wondering how the coalition and ECOWAS could be outsmarted by Jammeh in such a spectacular fashion. It’s almost as if by insisting on a peaceful exit President Barrow “held the door open” for Jammeh to leave with all his wealth cars and looted government property. 7000 troops, a warship and fighter jets were aimed at a non-existent army and yet they were stopped from arresting and/or killing Jammeh. With all due respect to Mr. Barrow, he must return to Gambia and be seen by the Gambian people to take up office in the very near future. Granted there may be good security reasons, for the delay but surely it cannot take that long to check out the State House for any nasty things left behind by his predecessor. 

If the State House cannot be deemed secure, Mr. Barrow was living in Gambia until the 15th January when he was moved to Senegal until his inauguration. This has now been done so why can’t he return to his former home until the State House can be secured. Or use the Bakau “State House” which was a weekend residence of the colonial Governors. It is easily secured and guarded. He cannot wait for the State House to be refurbished before returning to take power.

The former regime is like a snake. The only lasting solution is to cut off the head. This opportunity has been wasted in the name of “peaceful transition”. He has not only escaped all retribution, but gone with armfuls of cash and so many luxury vehicles that a cargo plane had to be used to ferry them out, right in front of the watching ECOMOG troops, warship and planes. The truth is now coming out and we have a situation where the jungullars, loyal troops and possibly armed mercenaries have now set up camp in nearby Guinea, free to create instability in the Gambia and sub region in the near future. Question is who is responsible for this mess and more to the point what are they going to do about it. Jammeh told certain of his people that he will soon be back as soon (as the ECOMOG troops are at a safe distance). It is therefore essential that President Barrow take up office and power in Gambia with his government in the very near future. 

The age limits set for the president and vice president are completely arbitrary. They were introduced by Jammeh to suit his own purposes and prevent the former President Jawara or his ministers from returning to power. The office of the president requires great maturity and experience, notably lacking in Jammeh. With age comes wisdom, sound judgement and patience. Mrs. F Tambajang Jallow is an essential asset to Mr Barrow with the education and experience to fulfil the role. For all his faults Jammeh had the wisdom to allow Isatou NJie Saidy to fulfil this role. Facing a serious power vacuum Ms Jallow should not be barred from office for the sake of a couple of years over and irrelevant age limit. She is a key member of the incoming government with a proven track record of uniting the coalition. This amendment could easily be reversed. 

The political reality is that for the second time Senegal has had to save Gambia from self-destruction. There is enough evidence these last 40 years that Gambia has been incapable of a progressive stable government and we have been at constant risk of disruption and destabilization. They have a RIGHT to expect something in return since for the foreseeable future they will be underpinning our national security. This does not mean that Gambia should roll over and give them everything they want, but we have effectively lost our sovereignty for the time being. After the 1981 coup, Jawara tried to wriggle out of our dependency by linking up with Nigeria through certain Technical Assistance Agreements. Enter the Nigerian judges, later to be subverted against the Gambian people by you know who. Humiliating though the current dependency on Senegal may be we do not want to make the same mistakes with perhaps worse results. Working with Senegal we can go forward, but without them there is a serious risk of Jammeh returning or civil war without them. This is the reality. Any country that cannot manage its own affairs will be dominated by others.

Conclusion. Gambia is now a sinking ship, with no captain drifting towards the financial rocks on one side and pirates (Guinea and the worst remnants of the former regime) on the other. With all due respect and goodwill, President Barrow and his cabinet MUST be seen to take control or lose all credibility. Whatever the delay, the risks are mounting by the day. The situation is drifting out of YOUR control. Please act and honour the trust placed in you by the Gambian people, some of whom sacrificed their lives and liberty to put you in power. What of those still unjustly imprisoned? How long must they wait? A single day is a long time when a person is suffering!! Mr Darboe and colleagues, I appeal to you who know what it is like in the black hole of mile 2. There is no time for a full judicial review by re-appointed judges etc. You MUST act now or events will overtake you and spin out of control. It’s been said “a week is a long time in politics”. 

A Well-wisher.

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