Addressing visiting Serer communities at State House on Sunday, the Gambian leader vowed to put an end to all political meetings requiring police permits if he wins the December presidential election.
“Since I took over in 2017 you have people who are still doing politics. The politics cannot end. Every day they are beating drums, they are blocking roads. Every day they are on social media, every day they are insulting people. That will end on December 4 after the victory. We will give instruction to the Inspector General of Police and anyone who applies for a permit will not get it. We want to continue working. The meeting you’re having, blocking roads does not benefit the country in any way,” President Barrow said.
The Gambian leader also told the visiting Serer community that December will represent a make or break for The Gambia.
The president of the Gambia Bar Association Salieu Taal, said on Facebook: “I could not believe my ears and eyes when I heard him [Barrow] say that he will effectively ban political rallies/gatherings after the December election and more disturbingly, he will instruct the IGP not to issue any permits for meetings.”
This, Taal added, “is a dangerous path and an affront to our fledgling democracy”.
Does the president understand that he does not have the power to suspend politics in any shape or form and neither can he ‘instruct’ the IGP to grant or deny a permit to any applicant who wishes to assemble peacefully for politics or any other reasons?” Taal said.
He said the authority and discretion to grant permits for public gatherings “is vested in the IGP under the Public Order Act subject to the Constitution”.
“The right of the citizens to exercise their fundamental rights to associate and assemble cannot be displaced by considerations such as fleeting inconveniences to the public or presidential directives. Neither the president nor the police have the power to restrict the fundamental rights of the citizenry granted by the constitution as envisaged in the president’s speech,” he stressed.
A human rights activist and social commentator, Madi Jobarteh reacted: “I urge all citizens and more so the political parties, CSOs, and the National Assembly to scold Barrow until he chokes to swallow back those despicable, undemocratic, unconstitutional remarks that he uttered in a meeting with a group of people from Jeshwang at State House!
Lamin Keita, the UDP’s Wisconsin Chapter chairperson, simply said: “It is dangerous and it undermines our democracy”.
The above were the exact words of President Barrow in one of his State House Rallies and were aptly captured by a local newspaper.
Who then is Ebrima Sankareh to interpret Barrow’s utterances saying he never mean that? The Government Spokesperson was first heard on Tuesday during Coffee time with Peter Gomez over West Cost radio trying to interpret what President Barrow said or not said. He never stopped there but cane up with a press release trying to tell Gambians what Barrow meant to say.
The Government Spokesperson is hired for a purpose but he better vet what Barrow intends to say before he uttered them. Barrow is hear well and understood, is now left to Gambians to act when the right times comes.