By Bakary J. Janneh
As Gambians gear up for presidential elections in December 2021, the peace and stability of this country should not be jeopardized by any threats of violence that could come from any of the so-called political parties in their struggle to occupy State House.
Under no circumstances must we Gambians allow ourselves to be used by any institution, be it political parties, civil society groups or any of the international organizations and foreign states to influence us to confront each other for the interest of the few. That will certainly not be in the national interest and we should not allow ourselves to be perpetrators against each other and eventually become victims.
The peaceful co-existence among Gambians and our deep-rooted cultural norms and values should be masterminded by our blood relations, which is highly esteemed and we should always look forward to it so as to enable us to live in peace, harmony and tranquility within our communities and societies.
However, post-election violence has sadly become the epicenter within the regional block of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) in the past few years. The Gambia has not been an exception to that because of the experience we went through during the political impasse after the 2016 presidential elections. Similar situations have recently occurred in Mali, Guinea Conakry as well as Ghana, which resulted in casualties and serious injuries among the populace.
Each and every Gambian, irrespective of political affiliation, should stand to be patriotic to ensure that peace continues to reign in this country at all times. It would be quite unfortunate if we should allow our peaceful country being seen on the front pages of newspapers reporting about conflict because of politics. We should ensure that we would be able to address anything that may come on our way without resorting to violence.
The history of post-electoral politics generally happening in Africa has not been quite auspicious. It has always been a source of catastrophic pandemonium, unrestrained resentments, irrational action and political instability all in the name of selfish interests of the few who, whenever they assume office, refuse to listen to their people.
The post-electoral uprisings that erupted from Nairobi in Kenya to Harare in Zimbabwe, as well as to the rural areas of those countries had exposed tribal sentiments that had long festered in those countries. Just as other societies were beginning to enjoy the vestiges of true democracy, thousands of others were being killed or displaced by senseless political violence. This is a clear example why the people of the Gambia should ensure that peace and stability continue to reign in this country. There should be no violation of morality or decency of the people, provoking indignation, and transgression to any limit should not be entertained by anyone
In this contemporary world, elections are held in virtually all the countries, which generally aims to allow for peaceful transfer of power, based on the decision of the majority, but elections held outside of consolidated democracies are often accompanied by substantial violence.
Electoral violence can result in casualty tolls that meet the threshold of civil war within days or weeks, and when this occurs, it can undo years of peace building and development work. It can also undermine democratic institutions, and even trigger civil war. For example, the post-election violence after the presidential polls in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 led to the deaths of thousands civilians, with thousands of others being internally displaced while several others sought refuge in neighboring countries.
While there is desperation from diverse angles to take control of the State House of the Gambia during the forthcoming presidential elections, but on no account should Gambians allow themselves to be used as tools for the political gains of anyone through violence. We should all be a true reflection of our National Anthem and we should follow its message to the letter.