Essa Mbye Faal, Former Lead Counsel and Independent Presidential Candidate
Essa Mbye Faal, the former lead counsel for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) and erstwhile Independent Candidate for President, released the following statement on his official Facebook page in the aftermath of the recent mayoral and chairperson elections:
I take this early opportunity, on my personal behalf and on behalf of the Executive and General membership of Sobeyaa, to extend congratulations to each and every voter throughout the country, for concluding the entire governance electoral cycle in a peaceful manner.
Prior to the Mayoral and Chairmanship elections, tension in our country was very high. The toxic rhetoric showing tribal, religious and political divisions was at a heighten and fearful level. Alhamdulillah, our people managed to conduct a very peaceful election. We are known to be a very peaceful country. We have again shown that we deserve this lofty accolade.
I also congratulate the IEC for conducting what is generally viewed as a very transparent election. Of course, every election will have issues that may be criticized. This one is no exception. For instance, we have received several ALLEGATIONS of attempts at vote buying, voter intimidation and voter suppression. None of these was significant enough to affect the final outcome of the elections, because the people came out to freely express their choices.
Attempts were made to divide us along tribal lines. Again, the people came out and voted (in my humble opinion) NOT according to TRIBE, but based on informed choice. Thank you Gambians for this.
As we strive to perfect our democracy, the IEC should learn from the problems of each electoral process and seize the teachable moments, to improve the electoral system in order to make it more robust and tamper-free. The IEC should also put in place mechanisms to police, investigate and prosecute statements that incite violence or encourage unlawful divisive politics.
I reserve the biggest congratulations to both the winning and losing candidates. They have all put up a good DEMOCRATIC fight and the people have cast their votes and God has decided. I applaud all of them for their patience, tolerance and decorum throughout the process.
The UDP deserve special mention for their performance in getting the most votes. I note their steadfastness to their cause, their organization and their drive in securing their victory.
However, both the major contestants (UDP and NPP) have a lot to celebrate from this election, because they are both winners. In fact, to support the statement of President Barrow, there are no losers in this election. We the Gambian people are the winners. The distribution of political power across different political parties is good for our democracy. Additionally, this election, to a large extent, dispels the notion that Gambian elections are conducted along tribal lines. On this occasion, people from all tribes voted for UDP candidates, just as people from all tribes voted for NPP candidates. Our democracy is maturing gradually (I hope this is not wishful thinking).
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The leaders of the respective political parties in the contest also deserve praise for their leadership. I congratulate President Adama Barrow and Lawyer Baa Ousainou Darboe for ensuring that the process was conducted peacefully with great decorum. I also applaud the maturity with which they have received the results. Honestly speaking, we all have a lot to celebrate this time around.
The elections are now over. To re-echo the statement of President Barrow, it is time to work. I agree with him. All of us should now focus our energies in making our individual contributions to the development of our country.
To the elected officials, you have a solemn responsibility to keep and deliver on the public trust given to you. Please make it a duty to not betray that trust.
To President Barrow and his government, please note that all Gambians including your opponents (perceived or real) have an interest in you succeeding, because they (we all) want a better Gambia. Thus, all Gambians yearn for:
1. A competent government comprised of highly qualified people who have the capacity and experience to deliver, as opposed to one comprised of cronies and loyalists;
2. A government that is driven by a vision that is realistic and achievable, instead of ad hoc and conflicting policies;
3. A government that works as a well coordinated team and moves in tandem, instead of one that is disjointed and works in silos.
4. A government that is not plagued by corruption, whether alleged or proven;
5. A government that focuses on our development priorities and not on sideshows and distractions;
6. A government that is always ready and prepared to tackle the national priorities at all times with well-thought-out and pre-planned interventions.
7. A government that is capable of solving the needs of our farmers, and other vulnerable groups, including women and children;
8. A government that would provide work and opportunities for access to finance for the youths and women of the country;
9. A government that will jealously guard, preserve and protect our meager natural resources as well as the sovereignty of our nation and its peoples.
10. A government that comprises strong institutions that ensure that the system works in a fair and balanced manner in accordance with the law.
People may have differing views as to whether the above exist or not and if yes, to what extent. What is certain is that achievement of the above benchmarks, will constitute the foundation for the development of our country. It is the obligation of the government under the leadership of the President of the Republic to ensure that we achieve this basic minimum. It is doable.
Good luck to mother Gambia.
Essa Mbye Faal