Dear editor,

The first point of civility must point to truth – otherwise all its roads to formulate a civil and a vibrant democracy will lead to chaos and disunity.

My hunch is – the folks of the ‘3 Years Jotna’ aren’t on some heroic quest for vanity, but even if they are – it remains their right! The government cannot usurp those rights and cannot criminalize civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is the life blood of a democracy.

Some of us have never been part of the ‘The 3 Years Jotna Movement’ and have never supported it for practical reasons. I’ve always maintained that – it was badly conceived and improbable to attain considering the situation on the grounds. Among those concerns are; the drafting of a new constitution, the pending referendum, the possible fall out of ascending an unelected official into Presidency, and many other obstacles I cannot enumerate here.

Equally disappointed I was when Lawyer Darboe, a man I greatly admired and respected, switched positions on this matter, which seems to be only out of expediency – because his explanations were radically cheap on substance and utterly superficial in context.

Nevertheless, me and many others, stand with all of them in defense of their rights to dissent, to assemble and the legitimacy of the movement.

We cannot go back to the imbecilic trifles of the past brutal regime. We can start exercising the draconian laws of punishing or criminalizing dissent, arresting journalists and shutting down radio stations at the government’s volition.

There is no real substantial argument offered why such harsh measures being taken against our fellow citizens. The tendency to bring those old techniques to terrorize the masses is repugnant and will never be tolerated in The Gambia. Civil disobedience cannot be criminalized. It’s simply wrong.

The government and the law enforcement can hide behind these foolish draconian laws to use them as penance against our fellow citizens, and they will certainly not suffice to perpetuate injustice for long.

Like it is with individuals, the life of a nation unfolds in series of surprises. Events are often unpredictable but it seems our conducts remain habitual – even as a nation. We must all work to change some habits; to truly love one another and stand for the rights of all our people, especially those we disagree with.

The temperament of a leader can be a gift or a curse that accommodates the national impulses and events we know not whence they come. A leader of a nation cannot be contemptuous towards a section of the population simply because they oppose his rule or question its legitimacy. That is antithetical to democracy. It cannot be a crime to be asked to keep your own word. A leader cannot be too arrogant to explain why he has to negate on his commitment, arguable within reason and solid legal grounds.

Jamal Drammeh
Concerned citizen

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