By: Basidia M Drammeh
President Adama Barrow’s recent comments have raised concerns about his previously tolerant approach towards his political opponents and the media. Some observers are questioning whether his remarks suggest a potential end to that approach. Barrow expressed that the country’s democracy is getting out of hand and that changes will be made. He added that the disrespectful language used by those who seek to harm the country will soon come to an end under his leadership.
These remarks are concerning given Gambia’s recent history with former dictator Yahya Jammeh, who was known for his hostile attitude towards the opposition and independent press. Jammeh was notorious for brutalizing those he perceived as threats to his rule, often resorting to torture, imprisonment, exile, and even murder. The independent media was a specific target of Jammeh’s violent regime, with many journalists eventually fleeing the country due to the harsh environment created for them.
Barrow’s recent statements regarding his intolerance towards those who insult his government and his plans to use the Inspector-General of Police to arrest any individuals who attempt to create chaos in the country are reminiscent of Jammeh’s aggressive language towards his critics. However, it’s important to remember that Gambia is a country of law and order, where anyone found breaking the law should face justice rather than being arrested and detained without due process.
As a leader, Barrow must be able to handle criticism without resorting to aggression towards his opponents and critics. In a democracy, it’s natural for people to have divergent views, and the president needs to be open to hearing those opinions. While some may be urging Barrow to take a tougher stance against his critics, this is not advisable. The President must remember that he is there to serve all Gambians, regardless of their political, ideological, or religious affiliations.
Mr. Barrow also needs to use his presidential platform to promote peace and unity rather than make statements that can potentially deepen polarization in a deeply divided country.
Maintaining his calm and tolerance is crucial to upholding the democratic values Gambia has worked hard to achieve.