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GAMBIA: THE POLICE MUST NOT UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY AND THE CONSTITUTION

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It is once again tragic that the Gambia Police Force has decided to undermine citizen participation and democracy by shielding public institutions from accountability. The reasons provided in this illegal decision by the IGP to deny a protest against poor ferry services are unjustified and unfounded. The constitutional rights of Gambians are not secondary to the OIC Summit. The summit, which is scheduled for 4 4–5, and the protest by citizens on April 21 cannot be linked in any way.

This decision is therefore a blatant disregard of the Constitution and an unfortunate setback for our democracy and good governance. The police are not the defenders of the government against citizens. Rather, the police is a human rights protector for citizens.

Therefore, I urge the organisers to sue the IGP for violation of the Constitution and the rights of citizens. Even on the very day of the OIC Summit, citizens should have the space to protest without affecting the conference. Our rights as Gambians cannot be violated in the name of OIC. Our rights to protest have nothing to do with the OIC Summit; hence, it is unethical to try to link the two.

Public institutions and officials have a constitutional obligation to perform their functions to serve the public. They cannot be allowed to renege on their duties and thereby cause untold suffering on the people without consequences. What the IGP is saying in his illegal decision is that no one should hold public institutions accountable. The IGP is saying that public institutions have a right to underperform, and no one can do anything about it.

All citizens must therefore condemn this illegal and undemocratic decision of the IGP to put it to him that he is abusing his powers and destroying our democracy. It is important for citizens to recognise that they have the constitutional right and duty to defend the Constitution and democracy in the Gambia.

The Gambia Ferries Services and the Gambia Ports Authority, and their line ministry (MoTWI) are incompetent, inefficient, and unprofessional. Otherwise, how could these entities allow all the existing ferries to run down at the same time? Are they telling us they do not have a management and operational capacity to monitor and maintain these ferries? Are they saying they do not generate any revenue with which to invest in the maintenance and operations of these ferries?

These are the pressing questions that citizens want to ask these institutions and their officials. Therefore, why would the IGP stand between citizens and these public institutions? The IGP must recognise that it is not his job to defend public institutions. Rather, these institutions should face the public to defend their own records, policies, services and decisions by themselves.

Hence it is important to advise the IGP that he should refrain from interfering in democratic processes. The IGP must be advised to not allow himself to be used as a weapon by politicians and officials against the Constitution and citizens.

For The Gambia, Our Homeland

By: Madi Jobarteh

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