“What Do We Do or What Should We Do – To Make A Functioning Democratic Republic?” QUERIES BURAMA DIBBA

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Some said the ballot box. They suggest a perfect coalition of the opposition could defeat Yahya. This is a good hope except that both Jawara and Yahya has secured at least 50 + 1% in every election.  For this approach to work we have to first remove Yahya’s grip on everything electioneering. Hence at this point coalition or no coalition is not our essential bottleneck. But the bigger problem is not just Yahya going or staying – many assumed if we remove Yahya is democracy but far from it. It may probably better for some than the current but also maybe worst for some than the current – that’s simply changing of the guard. How about we simply fight for a free, fair and equal opportunity Gambia for all at all time 

Others said lets use the courts and this is good– however this assumes there is some functionality in the system. More importantly though even if we win all the cases taking to court the broader injustice and undemocratic governmental apparatus remains in tact. Under functioning systems courts could ensure adherence to laws but not so much ensuring we’re a democracy. Both Russia and China has courts but they’re no democracy by any means.

Others said violence/coup – the outcome of such change is always something else except democracy. Look into history of forceful take overs including Gambia. But also the advocates of this approach are all or mostly living far away from Banjul. My question is – who will pick up arms or take to the streets?

The diaspora’s on the other hand continued to battle for recognition. CORDEG announced some mission statement and in the following weeks GCC came up with one. Ever since much talk about unity but not what is been done or planned to be done. The postures over we’re the umbrella body; apex organization or coordinating agency overshadowed the task at hand.

I believed all of these efforts, thoughts, arguments, debates, etc. has a vital place in our struggle. However until they follow some nature chronology, logic or practical methodology they mean nothing as stand alones, in some upside down mix or in some jumbled up mixture. The point is – of course we will need elections at some point but if we start with it – we will simply run into a cul-de-sac.

Here’s what I think is our best option to make Gambia ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’.

  • We need people who represent us – I called these people ‘The National Face’
  • We need to tell people what we exist/represent – the problem. This is what I called – ‘A Democracy Vision’. This is probably the most important task we have at this point. Making Yahya ‘The Problem’ is neither unifier nor asking all to rally behind one opposition candidate is a unifier. Beyond that we have to have the right problem to be able to get the free world to our aid.
  • Leverage 1 – mobilize and Organize Gambians (the whole – not just those considered opposition). Remember this is an agenda to create a democratic republic – not selecting/electing a president.
  • Leverage 2 – influence the International Community and raise funds and impose consequences for the violations our basic republican rights
  • Engagement – pursue Banjul on all aspects of our ‘Democracy Vision’ for overhauls and reforms. Involve foreign nations through their missions in Banjul on our positions (compounding leverage 2). Harness the participation of local political organization and their grassroots support base (compounding leverage 1) not to go to election but on the institution of democracy (level playing field).
  • Use of Leverage 1 & 2 as bargaining power – local gatherings and expression of solidarity with demands of change on the table. Influencing international community to hand down sanctions, travel bans, international courts, limiting/cutting budgetary supports, etc.
  • Repeat these processes over and over as needed/necessary

This I believed is our best political option. I welcome you sharing what you think is/are our best options. Continuing to vent our frustration over what Yahya or did not is not an answer. Hoping that some body exist who will do it on our behave is a fantasy. We will get support if we look for it but we have to do this ourselves. The importance of doing it ourselves is sustainability.

How to constitute ‘A National Face’ and elaborate/formulate ‘A Democracy Vision’ are very detailed subjects that we would need time and wisdom debate. As hard as it maybe look, most of these will come natural as long as focus on the fundamental purpose. Sectional interests are always distractions and will tempt to crop in if absoluteness is not exercises at every stage.

Building up ‘Political Leverage’ is an iterative process, time demanding, very politicking and costly – even the closest allies may have different interests that will have to be accounted for in order to succeed. Goodness its not impossible and very possibly once we get hold of the strategic ends it could move at an appreciable pace.

Engaging Yahya’s administration politically maybe a bite in the chin for some but is the most practical option. In addition establishing a negotiating agenda will not be quick or easy because he (Yahya) current posses all the jokers – hence he has no incentive to give up anything. We will continue to develop leverage that will at some point tilt that equation and we hope at some point Yahya will be asking our mercy (because at that point in time we will hold all or most of the jokers).

As with any proposal projecting into future, this has some built in assumption. That means not every is likely to happen as stated. Fortunately this proposal has very practical assumption that in the event of a need for adjustment there will be several other options to jump on.

Please folks come out with your best ideas so we can begin a national discussion to move forward.

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