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GAMBIA: UNDERMINING THE NATIONAL DIALOQUE

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Two days after a ‘National Dialogue’ with the theme to preserve the nation, we have fellow citizens tear-gassed for merely holding a fundraiser! Holding a fundraiser requires no police permission much less to violently disrupt it. What is even more perplexing is that the organizers already had a permit to do so!

The Constitution of the Gambia guarantees civil and political rights for all. Hence No To Alliance as a political organization has a right to organize a fundraiser. Therefore to disrupt their event which was held in an enclosed space is a clear violation of the Constitution and their rights. This should not have happened.

For that matter, the guarantors/conveners of the ‘National Dialogue’ must speak out to protect the integrity and objective of the convergence. The action of the police against the No To Alliance can only further threaten national unity, peace and security hence undermine the objectives of the ‘National Dialogue’.

Preserving the nation is about, first and foremost the Government taking the lead to abide by the Constitution and adhere to the rule of law. It is about protecting human rights and the dignity of citizens. Preserving the nation is to demonstrate responsibility and leadership in ensuring that all Gambians feel respected, protected, and belonging to this nation.

The treatment meted out to No To Alliance is contrary to the rationale and purpose of a ‘National Dialogue’. Therefore if the Government wishes to overcome antagonism, division and hate in our society then it must be seen to open the space all to be free, safe and enjoy their constitutional rights.

For this reason, the people who led the ‘National Dialogue’ process have now a test case in their hands. They must have the courage of their convictions to tell the Government that they cannot convene such a conference with noble objectives only to come back carrying out old habits.

The members of the civil society and the political party leaders who welcomed and took part in the ‘National Dialogue’ must say Never Again to politically motivated police actions. CSOs and political parties must tell the Government that they must respect and protect political opponents.

If these CSO and political party leaders fail to speak in defense of the rights of No To Alliance then we must classify them as organizations, parties and leaders with no credibility and integrity.

For the Gambia Our Homeland

By Madi Jorbateh

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