06 March 2011

Gambia: Monarchical Talk in Democratic Institutions

Rather than drawing lessons from deadly protests for democratic reforms that grip the world today, traditional chiefs have now reached out to democratic institutions like Kanifing Municipal Council and Banjul City Council and the National Assembly in an unconstitutional campaign.
The monarchical effort of the traditional chiefs to crown President Jammeh as King of The Gambia is no longer a concealed matter now. But what should be clear to the campaigners is that going round the country campaigning for kingship of a president voted in office by the electorate is an affront to our constitution, the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia.
Anybody who thinks that elections are chaotic should try to go against people’s will. We all know that there has never been an election in Libya since 1969 and Ghadafi is not more comfortable than any leader today.
The Secretary General and head of the civil service Dr. Njogu L. Bah, in reading the statement on Gambia’s position on Libya amid the unrest, said among other things that the Libyan leader wanted to be King of Africa. The chiefs of the same government who are against the alleged motive of the Libyan leader are campaigning for kingship of The Gambian leader.
Traditional leaders should avoid being used as stooges. This has proven that if people have the power to elect and remove chiefs, they may not be saying what they are saying in broad day light.
We know that despite the numerical strength of the ruling APRC in the assembly, if deputies are to openly debate about Jammeh’s kingship it will be heated. Suffice it to say that it will require 75 percent approval in a referendum. We should not sell our expensive democracy at a monarchical price.
The Paramount chief and the Secretary General of the chiefs’ council should know that their campaigning for a monarchy is an effort to undermine the democratization of The Gambia. And history is there to judge them for their selfish actions.
It is worth frightening for chiefs who are on such a misleading campaign to face the speaker of the National Assembly, who is leading the supreme lawmaking body of the nation, to talk about nothing but a monarchical form of government.
The claim that elections are chaotic is grossly misleading. The world had been moving from one order to another order. The new world order is what brought about the need for democracy. Democracy is not alien to Africa. Before the coming of some ruthless kings, Africans were living in peace and harmony. Researchers in history, especially in Egyptology agreed that Africa is the cradle of civilization. Some of the values that correlate with principles of human rights are inherent in our cultures.
Contrary to the claim of the kingship campaigners, there have been some empires and kingdoms, which could not pass the test of time, due to wars of conquests. The order of those days were conquering of kingdoms to expand one’s territories through wars.
Those who also read African history may come across the story of Askia Muhammed, who earned his first name Askia meaning usurper, because he usurped power from another king.
Of course there are many positive things that we can praise Africa’s past for but the justification of kingship, describing election as the source of chaos is mere romanticizing of history, which is distorting.
If we also look at the Kingdom of Kabu and the battle of Kansala referred to as “Turubang Kansala,” which was genocidal in nature, was not caused by elections.
All these wars, conquests, and usurping of power are not cause by any single elections. If elections are the problems, the problems in Kabu Kansala and Songhai and so on would not have occurred.
Reading history is not an end in itself, but using history as hindsight to have foresight is the challenge. Campaigning for Jammeh to become king in this country is intellectual dishonesty.
We are appealing to the chiefs and all those who have not yet shown their real faces in their infamous campaign to be honest to Gambians and tell them what the Gambian constitution says about election and the significance of elections as the progressive way forward.
The Power of Alkalos Over VDCs
In the face of alleged embezzlement of thousands of US dollars by the former Village Development Committee (VDC) which led to the appointment of an interim VDC who were refused recognition the village alkalo and branding them as opposition elements are discriminated.
The trend taken by some of traditional leaders who never hesitate to tell the people that we should go back to our traditional leadership like kingship could not even show us a single sign in their actions that their mode traditional leadership would work to breed freedom and peace each day in this country. Refusing to bless a VDC for having opposition elements is political biasness.
The power of alkalos did not include cleansing VDCs of opposition elements or members. There must be attitudinal change among our traditional leaders, who always come with unjustifiable moves in the name of belonging to the ruling party. No nation or society can prosper by suppressing the so-called minority by the majority ruling. The local government authorities should act so that society can be levelled. They should avoid exposing Gambians to learning from bad and undesirable experiences. Gambians who made The Gambia should be respected and treated fairly without a political string. The Gambia has no treasury, ministry, region, district, town, village or even a street owned by a particular political party in this country. Thus any attempt to make it so would be unlawful.

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