Monday, June 29, 2015

Do not set Gambia on fire

Sidi Sanneh 
Tomorrow, the Gambian National Assembly is set to debate a number of bills that will raise the registration fee for political parties and/or presidential candidates to D 1,000,000 which represents a 10,000% increase in a country where the average citizen lives on $1.25 per day and were the incidence of poverty nationwide is in the region of 60-70%

Among the measures the National Assembly will be considering is increasing the number of constituencies from 48 to 54 seats in an Assembly that is already overwhelmingly APRC, earning it the name a "rubber-stamp" Assembly.

The death penalty abolished in 1992 by the previous government the Jammeh regime deposed by unconstitutional means was reinstated immediately after the  1994 coup which made it possible for the current regime to extra-judicially execute nine death row prisoners.  Two of those executed were Senegalese, one of whom was a woman.  A third prisoner extra-judicially executed was reported to be mentally handicapped.

The National Assembly is being asked by Jammeh to approve a constitutional amendment that will make it possible to execute those found guilty of murder by non-violent means.  Currently law allows the death penalty only in circumstances involving violence and poisoning.  We have appealed to the good senses of members of the National Assembly in both our Facebook and blog entries.  Approval tantamount to handing Jammeh an AK-47 in exchange for his small caliber pistol.

The electoral measures that the Assembly is considering will effectively bar all opposition parties from participating in the electoral process because there is not a single opposition party that has D 100,000 in its bank account, much less a D 1,000,000.  Only Yaya Jammeh can fulfill the financial requirements to even be on the ballot.

The country is going through the hardest economic times ever recorded since Gambia gained independence in 1965 with high unemployment, especially among the urban youth.  The cost of living is rising near exponential rates.  The rural areas are experiencing food deficits leaving ordinary Gambians hungry with pockets of severe hunger and malnutrition in the middle of the country.

To aggravate a clearly dire situation with a deliberately calibrated sets of political brinkmanship is one possible way of setting Gambia on fire.  Whether the authorize it or not, The Gambia is at the edge. Therefore, Jammeh and his minions need to back off for the good of the country.