I hereby call on the Independent Electoral Commission to call on the NPP party and its candidate Pres. Adama Barrow to discipline Dembo Bojang for spewing tribal bigotry, fear mongering and incitement to violence at their Bakau rally. The call by Dembo Bojang on all other ethnic groups except the Mandinka that they risk being tormented and exiled should Barrow lose the election to a particular candidate is not only dangerously divisive but also a clear hate speech that can only damage the unity and stability of the Gambia. This is language that is outside the realm of multiparty politics as it is unnecessary and a stimulus for violence.
By his remarks, Dembo has weaponised the elections and created a fertile ground for electoral violence should his party fail to win. With such fear, it means Dembo and his ilk can easily ginger up naïve and uninformed individuals to take matters into their own hands for fear of the unknown as espoused by Dembo Bojang. His remarks constitute the most dangerous political rhetoric so far since the June 2016 anti-Mandinka tirade by Yaya Jammeh.
For that matter, there is an urgent need for all political parties and the presidential candidates to reprimand Dembo Bojang in the most direct, strongest and unequivocal manner. Similarly, it is necessary for all CSOs and the National Human Rights Commission to speak up in total condemnation of this most irresponsible remark and to demand a retraction by Dembo.
It is indeed most unfortunate that Dembo made these remarks in the presence of the Pres. Adama Barrow on whose behalf the rally was held yet neither him nor any other Cabinet minister or top party officials present immediately stopped Dembo. When he started those remarks, the right act of leadership and responsibility for the President and all relevant officials there was to call out Dembo to stand down and take back his despicable comments. Rather, they decided to join him in failing the nation.
For that matter, I hereby call on the IEC that it has the mandate in the Elections Act to discipline political parties and candidates and their supporters for conduct that is unbecoming in an election activity. Section 92 of the Elections Act sets out the code of conduct for campaigns. The Code stated that if a provision of the Code is breached it can lead to the deregistration of a party or the cancellation of the nomination of an independent candidate. Section 2 of the Code states that, a party or candidate or their supporters should,
• Through their campaign activities, seek to foster a spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism among Gambians.
• Refrain from actions or making speeches based on, or which may incite, or which are calculated to incite sentiments of a sectional, divisive, religious, ethnic or regional nature.
Therefore, the Chairman of the IEC Alh. Alieu Momar Njai and the Chief Electoral Officer Sambujang Njie should rise up to their duties by holding the NPP and its candidate Adama Barrow accountable for the unhealthy remarks of Dembo Bojang. The comments by Dembo are far and deep hence have the potential to create post-election violence of imaginable proportions.
This is because Dembo Bojang is a very senior citizen. He is a veteran popular politician who commands a high degree of influence because of his standing. Above all, he is a Mandinka person. Therefore, with such high profile, if Dembo should face the nation to say that if Barrow did not win and the nation finds itself in the hands of a certain party and candidate, they will wipe out all other non-Mandinka ethnic groups, then every other non-Mandinka person may believe such irresponsible and unfounded hogwash. This is what makes Dembo’s comments dangerous.
Dembo’s comments are obviously directed at and intended for only one purpose, i.e. to demonise and alienate UDP and Ousainou Darboe. By doing so, Dembo is therefore inciting non-Mandinka citizens to hate not only UDP and Darboe but to also despise all other Mandinka citizens hence be prepared to not only reject UDP and Darboe but also to be prepared to fight them in any way possible. This is the meaning of Dembo’s irresponsible comments. Therefore, all Gambians must rise up to condemn Dembo Bojang for fuelling the flames of hatred and violence in the country.
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