Mr. Ebrima Sonko, Executive Secretary, Commission on Political Debates

By: Ebrima Sonko, Executive Secertary CPD

In the spirit of national peace and reconciliation, ANM Ousainou Darboe should come out of the silence to unequivocally accept the results of the Dec. 4th elections and potentially focus on rebuilding and rebranding his party. I have come to the conclusion, after some serious considerations, that its a futile exercise to embark on trivial technicalities which may be almost impossible to nullify the outcome of this years elections. It’s a tough call but it’s the right call for him to do.

Ousainou will forever be legendary in our history books as a selfless man who put everything out at his peril for country. Regardless of what view or position you hold about him or his political ideals, we cannot take away from him what is his rightful place in our Gambian legal and political history. A senior citizen. Vice President. Exceptional constitutional law lawyer who put the interest of those in need in his legal practice than any financial gains. I think he’s a decent human being amid his shortcomings like most of us. No amount of caricature, castigation or shaming will erase that fact. Thus, Darboe must come out and hold his head-up high as a statesman but also as a politician who’s gracious and humbled in defeat.

This may be a hard pill to swallow for him and his voters but the country has to move forward. It’s time to support the development agenda of the president in my view while we equally hold him accountable for the next 5 years. It’s sinful to allow our leaders to govern without rightful accountability. This should be the case for Barrow for the next five years but equally for Darboe as party leader for the biggest opposition party. I hope that he realizes that he wields perhaps an unparalleled power over his followers as most politicians. They listen to him. They adore him. They’d do anything for him. Its crucial to come out and show unprecedented leadership now more than ever. I think this is the right thing to do!

That aside, we ought to have honest and open conversations about the things that matter to us without necessarily resorting to tribal vitriol, attacks and finger-pointing. This elections for me if anything brought the best in us a much as the worst. This wasn’t an election to determine which tribe is/are the kingmakers. Clearly, it wasn’t the case that it was only other tribes that voted for Barrow. There were mandinkas, fulas, jolas, akus etc. They’ve their reasons to identify with him and his agenda and fairly so. Hence, directing tribal sentiments against another group for what seems as though is a triumph over another is the height of nonsensical divisive politics raring its head in our everyday political life. It’s the most unfortunate things we continue to shun because we think it’s trivial. Part of the legal reform this government must critically consider is to put in place serious anti-tribalist laws to avoid fanning the flames of tribal hate and division.

The recent happening lay bare how divided we’re on ethnic lines but also the existential or non-existential fears people have within them about some segment of our society. Whether justifiable or not, we need to understand each other’s perspective. It’s imperative to have an honest conversation about our tribal dynamics. That what unites us is bigger and better than our differences. That we’re peaceful people with differences that we must acknowledge yet embrace with respect, dignity and peace. We need to learn to love each other as one people.

I’m aware of the resilience of united Democratic Party. Certainly, if our recent history is anything to go by, this isn’t the end of their journey. We’ve very important parliamentary and local government elections coming up and might be prudent to focus on the task ahead. Whatever decision that the party takes in the next few days and weeks, I hope that it’s one that is guided by the greater interest of national peace and reconciliation. I hope that while they move forward, they’ll bear in mind the diversity of the party and its voters and this elections wasn’t by any stretch of imagination a rejection of any wholesome party, group or tribe. We’re one people!

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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