Commentary: Barrow uses Jammeh era laws to clamp down on opposition
"It now looks like Opposition to President Barrow is Against the Law."
Like the former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, president Barrow, is all but criminalising politics in the Gambia.
The now familiar arresting of citizens with critical voices against the policies of president, his government’s corruption, his unfitness for office and/or any opposition to his government, is tagged as an enemy that can be arrested and detained summarily.
The country is increasingly experiencing these unlawful arrests and detention. And we just have to expect the worse is yet to come. What is normal in a democracy is now not normal in the Gambia.
Isn’t it that the virtue of democracy dictates that the opposition parties will want to replace the incumbency peacefully?
What then is the point of politics if not to fervently desire to win power, govern, and put into practice the policies one believes in?
Then what is wrong, from the audio message I listened to, for Mr Momodou Sabally to demand to replace President Barrow with whoever he deem fit to better run the country according to his taste?
In this drive, political party members are within their democratic rights, Mr. President, to clamour their determination to replace their opponents at the seat of power.
Therefore, to arrest Mr Momodou Sabally, based on the audio message I listened to, is the height of tyranny anchored on stifling free speech.
But the mockery of these trivialities will weigh heavily on your focus and the legacy of your government.
The pent-up anger against Mr. Sabally and his political party require unleashing so that you may focus on serious challenges the country faces. The arrest and detention of Mr. Sabally, whatever its flavour is an act of self-harm.
This is beyond my comprehension, but this is the reality in the current Gambia. Clearly, we are moving towards a semi-authoritarian environment.
The series of arrests and detentions of recent showcase that the Gambia government is diminishing tolerance for political opposition.
The arrest and detention of Mr. Sabally marks another nadir for the budding democracy of the Gambia. And this paradigm change, leaning towards authoritarianism should worry every Gambian.
The Gambia is shutting the door on its flirtation with democracy when it starts unlawfully arresting and arbitrarily detaining citizens like Mr Momodou Sabally.
His arrest and detention are widely seen as a political witch-hunt. This is deeply concerning as we are yet to slough off the trauma of dictatorship just a few years ago.
The Barrow government risks becoming a national and international pariah if they continue arresting and detaining perceived political enemies and those who disagree with him.
Beyond doubt, the arrest and continued detention of Mr. Sabally is a regrettable case that is going to affect the president’s overall image. Under the constant blaze of searching media attention, the Gambia should change course toward democracy, rule of law, and the protection of human rights.
Mr. President, the country is hurtling, unstoppably towards political and economic ruin. Therefore, you should try and compose a country committed to all principles of democratic practices, rule of law, and ensconcing of human rights instead of ignominiously regressing to the path of dictatorship.
Mr. President, it may not be good for your legacy to keep arresting perceived political enemies because you want to inject fear to stop the people from unearthing the catastrophic failures and the inefficiency of your government. Equally, you can not keep stocking division to mask your government’s failures to deliver either.
These remedies you are prescribing to the challenges the government faces, Mr. President, are archaic, and they will not work.
What will work to your advantage is for you to run a clean government bereft of corruption and waste. It is about conventional policies and also with delivery to uplift the Gambian people from the grip of penury.
Mr. President, it is about for you to limit your appetite of political selfishness. It is about brain and skills and by moving the value-added chain. By making the Gambia competing on merits, on ability.
Instead, Mr president, this ruinous path you are embarking on - arresting citizens in order to stocking up fear, settings factions of the country against each other in pursuit of your narrow political interests will institute a terminal damage to your legacy and may infuse instability in the country.
Therefore, Mr. President, the country, needs a leader capable of using constructive non-political avenues to build bridges at a time when the nation feels as if it is drifting further apart.
Mr. President, democracy is obviously harder than you may think. However, while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
I am calling for the release of Mr Momodou Sabally from arbitrary detection.
Ebrima Scattre Janneh “EB”