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GUEST EDITORIAL – “I Don’t Blame President Barrow”

Ok, so maybe that headline is a bit misleading but it’s meant to be somewhat of a clickbait and I hope it got your attention. It should have probably read “I don’t totally blame Barrow even though I hold him and his circle responsible for what happened to our draft constitution.” But then that would have been too long so I stuck to the headline above. Lamin Njie would be jealous of my clickbait headline since he’s a master at it.

You see, from the TRRC, CRC, NHRC to the SSR to the buried National Think Tank that proved to be another waste of time and meager resources, none of these were Barrow’s ideas to begin with. And certainly not the ideas that his APRC circle of ministers will promote. How else could they explain serving at the behest of a dictator over twenty-two years? The tired excuse of “I was working for my country” and it’s attendant lies of “I didn’t know Jammeh was killing people” are washed out and tired. So if Jammeh enablers had their way, none of these transitional justice mechanisms would be implemented because for them, things were just perfect with Jammeh! That’s why they remained working for him until they saw their APRC boat sinking and true to form, they jumped ship! The Jammeh enablers and the greedy lot in Barrow’s cabinet already told us they wanted more for Barrow! That was our first cue.

As a country coming out of a wicked dictatorship, transitional justice mechanisms are often a prerequisite to fostering a more democratic space. But transitional justice mechanisms are inimical to anyone with designs on a dictatorship or anyone hellbent on self-perpetuating rule. Sadly, our system is built such that those driven by a desire for power can latch on to the mantle of the presidency and not let go for decades because letting go can be painful for them and their hangers on. These transitional justice mechanisms were meant to usher in changes that do not conform to the unabashed attachment to the power of the presidency, its attendant benefits and all its trappings.

As justice minister, Ba Tambadou initiated these transitional justice mechanisms and in the beginning, they sounded very good to Barrow. Just as he loved social media then, he loved touting his desire for a good legacy as a transitional president. That was until power really got to him and he realized that maintaining power the way he wants cannot be accomplished if these transitional justice mechanisms survive. They were not his idea in the first place and so it is easy for him to defund or underfund, under-support, undermine, disregard or just cherry pick through any recommendations they make (Janneh Commission comes to mind).

So for those wondering why the executive would send the bill to parliament and not support it, it’s simply because the executive was saddled with this draft constitution but they never took ownership of it because it does not give Barrow what he desires most: POWER TO DO AS HE PLEASES! We were warned a long time ago when Barrow’s cabinet started leaking their reservations and of all the reservations, the one that matters most is the one that keeps Barrow in power for as long as he desires! And he has the people around him to help him realize his dream! Yaya Jammeh also had people to help him write decrees to abuse Gambians, had people at the ready to butcher the constitution to suit his desires and Barrow will definitely find people ready to do the same for him. Slowly, they will kill all these transitional justice mechanisms especially if any of them stand in the way between Barrow and his desire for more time in power! That’s what killed the draft constitution! And that’s what’s going to kill or handicap the rest of the transitional justice mechanisms!

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