The loss of life in Faraba is indeed very tragic and regrettable. I am mourning with my fellow citizens; and I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to grieving families and friends, including those who sustained injuries and are currently receiving medical treatment at Banjul hospital. I wish them a speedy recovery and I pray that the three departed souls will rest in peace.
In our smiling coast of Africa, it’s rather unfortunate yet again to witness the Police Intervention Unit opening fire on un-armed civilians, who were merely exercising their constitutional rights. While I struggled to digest such awful news, I echo my fellow Gambians who call on the authorities to ensure that this incident is investigated thoroughly and whoever is found wanting is brought before the law. Justice should prevail. The authorities have made it unequivocally clear that they gave no instruction to PIU officers to open fire on protestors. I add my voice to those calling for calm and restraint.
Additionally, I would remind my fellow Gambians that the relationship between police and the youth is not always cordial. For example, ‘stop and search’ in the UK has proved to be very controversial. And in the Unite States of America, police officers often discharge their firearms against innocent people in order to effect an arrest. Tragically, our republic is not immune to such a security lapse. Nevertheless we ought to recognise that the majority of the men and women in uniform are professional and they are law abiding citizens. However, maintaining security and peace in the country might occasionally be challenging for them. Hence, there is a small chance for a minority of them to be led astray.
With democracy comes huge responsibility: from December 2016 the Gambia embarked on a long journey to pursue democracy and good governance. Since then, despite the best efforts of the government, the country continues to have some visible social and economic challenges which cause major uncertainty. Consequently, the slow pace of economic recovery often means the virtue of freedom of expression and freedom of speech is lost. As a result, the most anticipated land, environmental, political, economical, social, and institutional reforms require a huge amount of patience and an atmosphere of uninterrupted social cohesion. In a fragile democracy, no matter which club I belong to, whether it is a rights group, a political group or a pressure group, I would be very reluctant to exercise my rights in the street until I have exhausted all other means of expression.
However, it is encouraging to see that the government officials, religious leaders and members of the National Assembly come together as one force and show solidarity to the communities in Faraba. In conclusion, I am appealing to my fellow Gambians – let us stop politicizing this incident and let us not spread fake news on social media.
One Gambia, one people