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Participants pose during reading of  the statement

Participants at the seminar

Under the auspices of Norwegian Council for Africa, Os-Norway Gambia Affairs Group and Africa Center for Information and Development, Gambians and friends of the Gambia flocked to a seminar on the political situation in the Gambia on Friday evening  January 6th 2017. The theme of the seminar was diplomacy or military intervention. It was an interactive seminar that started with presentation from two panelists; Mr. Bakary B. Darboe former vice president of the Gambia and Ms. Tone Sommerfelt a researcher at FAFO who spent some years in Gambia on research work. Before the seminar kick started the Imam of the Gambian community in Oslo Ebrahima Saidy led the participants in prayers. After the deliberations of the panelists the floor was opened by the moderator Betty Marong for contributions from the audience and the contributions were in the form of comments and questions.

Mr. Darboe in his presentation said diplomacy is the preferred option but unfortunately we haven’t got a break through yet and there is time constraint. He went on to buttress that although the presidents in the sub-region continue to engage with the incumbent, fear and uncertainty hovers over Gambia. He said there are unfortunate signs of the military taking up positions around the country and unhealthy statements coming from Jammeh and the CDS of the army on the radio and television. Commenting on the military option Mr Darboe said ECOWAS will ensure all means necessary to make sure that Jammeh leaves because they have made a commitment to it.  He lamented that letting the current situation to continue is also risky. Citing the collateral damage of military intervention the former vice president said the option is a dilemma and adding that the discussion should not be limited to only these two options , other options need to be explored like economic blockade. Such an option can severely affect a small country like the Gambia but wonders if this option will do the trick for us.  Another option he highlighted is what he calls the people’s power stating that the high spirit of the populace should not be left to die as it could be tapped in the form of civil disobedience.

Ms. Tone Sommerfelt on her part in lamenting on diplomacy said keeping this route is crucial and put emphasis on domestic diplomacy. She said we should focus on reminding government officials and civil servants including military officials on their responsibilities. She also said people should be critical of information coming out like Jammeh scouting for mercenaries who are former rebels from the sub- region because such news may just be propaganda tactics to scare the people. What Jammeh does is crucial he will not win a military war but can create havoc and as such it is important that he accepts to step down, to avoid any bloodshed she charged. Commenting on the military option she said there is no doubt in the willingness of ECOWAS to intervene. Talking about the role of Senegal the FAFO researcher Ms. Sommerfelt said the fact that Senegal will lead if there is any intervention is good in the sense that Senegalese soldiers are more disciplined compared to others in the sub-region. When she was asked about the role of Norway in this political impasse she said Norway has very little interest in Gambia and it is only few of them who are trying to bring Gambia in the news but they would continue to engage the authorities on Gambia matters.

The seminar was well attended with some people coming all the way from neighboring country Sweden, mainly Gambians. There was a man from Cameroon and a lady from South Africa who also contributed in the discussions.  Some Norwegians also graced the seminar and there have been very healthy exchange of ideas from both the audience and the panelists. There was a consensus that all diplomatic avenues should be exploited so that the impasse is resolved in a peaceful manner and that military intervention should only be a last resort and many were in favor of Senegal leading that intervention for the simple reason that they speak the same languages and share the same cultures with Gambians.

At the end of the seminar all participants rose up to read the national anthem of the Gambia and statement issued by Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group was read out while everyone stood shoulder to shoulder and listened to it. Below is the statement that was issued by the Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group:

Statement of Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group on the Political Impasse in the Gambia

Date: January 6th 2017

Fellow citizens and friends of the Gambia the Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group would like to affirm our solidarity with the historic decision taken by the heroic people of the Gambia on December 1st 2016. On the spot counting of election results without the least doubt gave victory to Adama Barrow leader of the opposition coalition. We therefore urge the incumbent to respect the will of the Gambian people and initiate without delay the process of gracefully handing over power to president –elect Barrow on January 19th 2017. The current political impasse of our country is not without a formula to resolve it. The formula lies in the supreme law of our country. It is clearly spelt out in the constitution on how to handle election results grievances.

The fact that the incumbent has filed a petition at the Supreme Court should not in any way obstruct the handing over of power to President-elect Barrow. Gambia has already decided and the decision to avoid bloodshed on our peace loving country now rests squarely on the shoulders of the incumbent. If he gracefully decides to hand over the mantle of leadership of our country to president-elect Barrow any potential bloodbath would be averted. If on the other hand he decides to cling on to power one second after the 18th of January he automatically becomes a rebel leader and would be resisted from all quarters of our country. The ordinary Gambian people on the ground fought tirelessly to secure the historic election results and they would give everything to defend it to the end. No amount of intimidation would deter them from this magnificent march to victory.

The opposition coalition urged the victorious people of the Gambia to exercise maximum restraint and law abiding in response to all forms of provocations orchestrated by the outgoing president and his team. We therefore hope that it is a move to confirm that they are a government in the waiting and in control of the situation and come January 19th the mandate of the people would be adhered to. We support them for vehemently condemning the recent arrests in connection to “Gambia has decided” t-shirts. Their swift response has led to the release of those detained by the country’s spy agency. The incumbent keeps touting for respect of the constitution however we are all aware that if there is any violator of the constitution it is the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh himself. He has deliberately violated the constitution in many instances; from filing a petition more than ten days after the announcement of election results to requesting a not constituted supreme court to annul election results and declare the incumbent winner of December 1st elections. We want to make it very clear that we don’t want bloodshed in our country but we would not rest unless and until the incumbent hands over power to president elect Adama Barrow.

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  1. Amoako says:

    If it is to be believed about the mercenaries coming from the neighbouring countries cited, then those countries’ governments should put out a call to those mercenaries that their governments will pay the mercenaries to assist in supervising the handover of power and inauguration of the Elect Mr Barrow rather than Yahyah Jammeh paying them to create war wherein they could lose their lives amongst potentially hundreds of others. It is better to be paid to keep the peace and have that money to use than to be dead. What is the use of money then?


      The Subliminal messages underlying some of the Hatchet pieces and or stories being transmitted to the Gambians need to tempered, if not eliminated in pursuit of Peace, Tranquility and Security for all Gambians. I don’t have the time of “beating around the bush” about the Insidious drum beat of the so called “Jola hegemony” in the Gambia. I like most Gambians who grew up in the rural areas in the Seventies before leaving for further education abroad through our own and farmer families effort, not government help of any kind, know better what drove us to excel. It was not because of the graciousness and generosity of the government in power. If we depended on that, we would be in the Gambia “crying Tribalist this, Jola hegemony that, Mandinka hegemony this … you get the point. In a “Hatchet job” on Yankuba Badjie put out by “The Kairo” News Outlet, his job or jobs while in America were ridiculed and made fun of. I am not sure what that was suppose to achieve? What’s the point? I know this Site cannot engage in What another News Outlet engages in. My point however, is that Hatred is taking over Objectivity and Professional Ethics of Journalism. Is it too much to ask for Commentators to be less invested in insidious and subliminal messages they are communicating about our the Jola as if the Jola are a Monolith and are guilty of all things that happened since the 1994 Coupe. What has ones job or jobs while abroad trying to make a living as long as it is a ligitimate and income generating endeavor, has to do with anything. Would the author of the piece on Yankuba Badjie, rather have Mr. Yankuba Badjie engage in what some of the “economic migrants” as he put it, easily take up. That is illegal activities such as drug dealing, credit card fraud, and ripping off anyone foolish enough to associate with them. These are the same folks who give a bad name to their country by their criminal and illegal activities abroad and then would have one believe that they’re Political refugees. They are more than willing to lower themselves to a toads’ level and sell their Country for a VISA, Work Permit or Green Card. The cocktail of Hatred and Tribalistic Subliminal Messages being telegraphed would come to hunt all Gambians, unless it is Checked and Purged out of the Public Spsce. A regular question I always ask is, how is it possible for a population of a tribe that is less than 10% of a country, where the “Supposedly Repressed” tribe is between 39% and 40% of the country’s population and other tribes comprising of between 29%, 30% and the rest between 12% and 13%, and the tribes are found in and at all levels of the government; “Control and Repress” the Said Tribe or population. Without such Tribes’ and Population’s Complicity and Participation in the Alleged Repression nothing can or would take place. I am not willing to deny that terrible things happened in the Gambia before and during the Current Political Dispensation. Wrongs were perpetrated by all Gambians of all tribes and regions. Yet, it is now becoming fashionable and almost acceptable in certain groups and people, to paint and brush all Jolas with one stroke, as being the tribe responsible for the Gambia under President Yaya Jammeh. If one intelligently follows this logic, you would have to say that the Mandinka are responsible for any and all events that happened in the Gambia during the 32 years of President David/Dauda Jawara’s regime. That would be rediculous. Yet men and women who normally would not allow hate to blind them, are now willing to lower their humanity and sense of decency to fit in the clamour for a “Pound of Flesh” from any and all Jolas, if they cannot get the “Pound of Flesh” from President Yaya Jammeh. What I don’t have, is the ability to rationalize and reason with those who would create or replace fact with fiction of who, when and what did happen in the Gambia and to Gambians during the 32 and 22 years of Misrule and MALFEASANCE. The Scapegoating of the Jola or Mandinka would only reinforce the Tribalist and Prejudicial Sectionalist feelings fueled by Political Hachet Men and Women with the help of their Opinion “PUSHERS”. Gambia is more the Sum total of One Tribe, Region or a group of people. We are our neighbors, brothers and sisters keepers.

      Stop Peddling Subliminal Messages To The Gambia and Gambians. Like it or not, We are all in one Pond, the Gambia. Either we live and let live, or we engage in a National Collective Burial. The Choice is Ours, Not ECOWAS, Not Senegal.

      By Sidi N. Bojang.