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Saturday, 26 October 2013 15:34(News Release) – The Press release from the office of the President captioned “Gambia Accuses Britain and US”, of smear campaign read over GRTS by Mr. Momodou Sabally Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Minister for Presidential Affairs and translated into the local languages and relayed through the same medium is in our opinion ill considered, un- called for, worrisome and divisive in a country where tribal and religious tolerance is the envy of the world.
The press release represents the position of the Government of The Gambia on the particular matter or issue.
To describe Britain and United States of America as enemies of the Gambia is rather unfortunate of realistic and misleading. There is no gain saying that these two countries have immensely contributed to development agenda of this country and every right thinking Gambian should appreciate this.
Let there be no illusion about the fact that we as a nation can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone. We cannot afford to take rash decisions and make ill considered statements that will result in our international isolation.
The allegation that the UDP is a Mandingo tribal party created and funded by Britain and the United States of America is ridiculous and laughable. We abhor all attempts that seek to isolate our country and spread false and farfetched conspiracy theories regarding the establishment and funding of UDP.
To create maximum impact, the statement delivered by Hon Momodou Sabally on behalf of The Government of The Gambia was aired on national air waves at prime time and published by the print as well as the online media. To castigate the Mandingos, the Jammeh administration seeks to set a foundation for widespread sectarian political conflagration intentionally and specifically targeted against one specific tribe.
Since all Gambian media sources, including the independent print media and the GRTS are accessible on the internet, the impact of the statement has negatively affected hundreds of thousands of our citizens worldwide, and continues to generate great concern among Gambians both at home and abroad.
This is evidenced from the on-going intense discussions and reactions among our compatriots on all online and offline social media. There is tremendous justification for this, being one of the most dangerous official statements ever made by any government in the history of our nation. It has severely over-heated the polity.
Our position is that any matter or issue that has the potential of threatening our peace, stability, national homogeneity, religious and ethnic tolerance is inimical to national unity, development, peace, stability and security. Therefore, being leaders, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as onlookers on a matter of such fundamental national concern that has the potential to plunge our beloved country into serious crises.
We must act resolutely to douse the brooding inferno and silence the drums of relentless tribal contempt that is being intentionally provoked by the State against the Mandingos.
Our combined reaction is not borne out of the desire to come to the defense of any particular ethnic group and in this instance the Mandingos. Rather, our reaction is dictated and inspired by the urgent need to immediately halt the dangerous tribal politics and hate speech calculated to set our peoples against each other.
The unbridled attack on the Mandingos ignores the fundamental that beneath all the difference of tribe and region, faith and station, we are one people bound together by common destiny. History is gradually recording events and Hon. Sabally must be reminded to learn from the experience and lessons of at least two of his predecessors in office. He ought to know that there is virtue in moderation and modesty. Hon. Sabally should know that under Jammeh it does not pay to be a borrowed tool to disaffect others.
The most conclusive evidence of un-called for rhetoric, recriminations and tribal contempt against the Mandingos, is contained in the Tobaski message delivered by President Jammeh himself on national radio and television. Like Hon. Sabally’s statement, President Jammeh Tobaski message was for good measure translated and broadcast in the local languages and published in the print media and online papers.
Tobaski being one of the most important religious events in the Muslim calendar, it should serve as an occasion for forgiveness, thanks-giving and fostering unity. But shockingly, President Jammeh used the occasion to inflict calumny against Mandingos and to sow seeds of discord among Gambians.
In that Statement, delivered on Tobaski eve, President Jammeh selected and isolated only the Mandingos as a distinct tribal group, addressed them separately and branded them as the main opposition to his rule. This hate speech is captured verbatim not only in audio and video formats, but also in the print media and online press for eternity.
The relevant part of the President’s Tobaski message that singles out Mandingos for attack reads as follows: “Being truly patriotic includes the respect for authority and the defense of one’s nation against all odds. On this note, I hereby urge our Mandingo brothers and sisters that they have every right to oppose the Government but they have no right whatsoever to tarnish the image of our country”. By this specific reference to only the Mandingo tribe to the exclusion of all other tribes, President Jammeh implies that Mandingos are unpatriotic and engage in tarnishing the image of the country. The same Tobaski message which was posted on the official website of State House has been edited with the specific reference to Mandingos deliberately removed so as to present a laundered image of the President.
Gambia and Gambians have never conducted public affairs on tribal platform. There have been over the years intermarriages amongst the ethnic groups of the Gambia. There are several Mandingos married to Jolas and the Tallinding Kunjang settlement is testimony to these intermarriages.
No Gambian, particularly the non Mandingos, will miss the fact that the Majority Leader in the National Assembly is a Mandingo. There are at least nineteen (19) APRC National Assembly Members who are Mandingos and who strenuously defend the APRC ideas and ideals. The APRC National Women Mobilizer, the National Youth Mobilizer are all Mandingos. The list of persons who are Mandingos and hold important positions in the APRC Party is inexhaustible.
But President Jammeh must be reminded that Baba Jobe, Tabora Manneh were Mandingos and that Majanko Samusa, Lamin Kabba Bajo, Yankuba Touray and Yaya Jarjussey are Mandingos.
It was Alhagie Kalifa Sanno a Mandingo from Brufut, Dembo Santang Bojang a Mandingo from Brikama, the late Kebba Touray a Mandingo from Pirang and Lutang Jaiteh a Mandingo from Bakau who approached President Jammeh to resign from the Army and contest for the Presidency.
It is a known fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of security personnel (Gambia Armed Forces of which he is the Commander-in-Chief, the Gambia Police Force, the Gambia Prison Service, the Gambia Immigration Department and National Intelligence Agency) who are Mandingos and are very loyal to the President and his APRC Party.
The administration’s anti-Mandingo statements has shocked even members of President Jammeh's own APRC party many of whom reached out to their fellow Mandingos across the country to express their repugnance, and to distance themselves from these anti Mandingo rhetoric. We are comforted by the maturity exhibited by Gambians on this and similar occasions. It is clear that President Jammeh is isolated not only by his own supposed APRC supporters and government colleagues in his anti Mandingo campaign.
The government's anti-Mandingo position is not only abominable and reprehensible but is also condemnable. In a country where there is respect for constitutionalism, the conduct of the President would not only have received reproach from the National Assembly but would also cause it to initiate impeachment proceedings against him for his calculated scheme of setting other tribes against the Mandingos which in effect is to undermine the unity of this nation- the foundation of our constitutional scheme of government.
The pronouncements by the President and his Secretary General are a direct breach of sections 212 (1) and (2) of the constitution. This section enjoins all organs of state to strive towards the realization of national unity peace and stability and every effort must be made to integrate the people of The Gambia and foster loyalty to The Gambia without discrimination. The President and the Secretary General should be the lead observers and adherents to this Directive Principle of State Policy. The anti Mandingo ranting by the Jammeh administration is a direct assault on Mandingos for exercising their inalienable political and constitutional right guaranteed by section 25 (1) (e) of the Constitution of The Gambia.
We call on all Gambians not only to condemn this reprehensible trend, but to also condemn it in the strongest form. In rejecting this dangerous trend, we are comforted in the knowledge that we speak for the majority of Gambians both at home and abroad across all political spectrum and for all tribes and age groups.
We urge all Gambians to remain united as one family, and to continue to live together in harmony, peace and love, as we have for decades. We must all resist the dangerous attempt to stratify our society on the basis of tribe, and resist all efforts to divide our peoples based on tribe and other illegitimate considerations.
We are not as divided as our political coloration seems to suggest. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions. As citizens, let us understand that Gambia is not about what can be done for us. It is about what can be done by us together through hard work with a common purpose passion and dedication to uphold the values of our nation i.e respect for all tribes irrespective of their party affiliation.
Dated the 24rd day of October 2013.
UDP, NRP, PPP, GMC
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