President Barrow flexes his political muscle!
By Basidia M Drammeh:
Amid much fanfare, President Adama Barrow is forging ahead with his nationwide tour accompanied by his top Government officials and militants.
The tour is mandatory under the Gambian Constitution to enable the President interface with the populace in order to articular the efficacy of his policies and to familiarize himself with their concerns and aspirations. Critics, however, have panned the President for capitalizing on the tour to showcase his political clout and numeric strength to dispel reports that his popularity had taken a hit and to issue warnings to his detractors, particularly the 3 Yrs Jotna Movement that is bent on taking on him in December to honour his pledge to step down after three years in power under the 2016 Coalition Agreement. The tour carries all hallmarks of Gambian politics with the Tourism Minister, a staunch Barrow lieutenant, calling on fellow Cabinet ministers, apart from the Justice Minister, to get involved in politics. According to him, the Barrow Camp cannot sit on the fence while others are politicking. During the tour, reports emerged that at least eight UDP supporters were rounded up for daring to hoist the party flag where the President was supposed to tour. It has also been reported by the media that the President’s Deputy Political Advisor and certain members of the paramilitary police were seen distributing t-shirts bearing the President’s face to the employees of the Gambia Ports Authority on the outset of the tour. The President has reminded his audience in Farafeni yesterday that he is the Commander-in-Chief and that he would not compromise peace and security in the country. In a veiled threat to the 3yrs Jotna Movement, Mr Barrow warned people to follow due process, or face the full might of the law. Mr. Barrow also told the local chiefs that they must be on the same page with him because they operate under his authority. When the new Government came to power, they advocated for the neutrality of the local authorities accusing the former Jammeh regime of politicizing the local Government. Critics would argue that the former strongman is vindicated. Meanwhile, the President has emphasized that there will be no back door to Presidency, urging his opponents to follow proper electoral procedures to gain power. Prior to the tour, Mr Barrow gave the strongest signal of his intent to form his own political party to contest the upcoming 2021 elections. At least 8 UDP MPs who were recently expelled from the party have joined Barrow on the tour to show support. They have been accused of the party for pledging allegiance to the President rather than the party. On several stops during the tour, President Barrow stated that he’s outperformed his predecessors, saying that the duo had constructed a total of 700 km of roads compared to his 400 km of roads in mere three years. Nonetheless, critics have questioned the assertion arguing that some of those roads he brags about were actually initiated by former President Yahya Jammeh. While the President has been touting his infrastructural projects, the much-vaunted Brussels donor pledges of $ 1.7 billion have been conspicuously absent from his speeches amid reports that the funds have not been forthcoming. In his 2018, Mr Barrow made the pledges the centrepiece of his tour, telling the people that when the funds arrive, even rats will feel it. Since the tour began, the presidential entourage has enjoyed huge crowds, but it remains to be seen whether the crowds following the President will translate into votes when he decides to run for elections.
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