By Yankuba Jallow
Madi Ceesay, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Serrekunda West, said democracy cannot compromise a coup, because it is a criminal act.
Mr. Ceesay made this remark at a press conference held at the UDP Central Bureau in Manjai Kunda on Monday, July 17 2017. The press conference was organised in reaction to an article published on the Standard Newspaperregarding the APRC’s preparation to commemorate the July 22 coup that brought former president Jammeh to power.
Hon. Ceesay, who described the coup as a criminal act, was speaking in his capacity as the NAM for Serrekunda West.
Hon. Ceesay said as a NAM, he and his colleagues were democratically elected and none of them has used a gun or forced people to arrive at their present positions. He added that all the political parties in the Gambia subscribed to democratic values and this is the reason why all the parties took part in the December 1, 2016 elections. He also said the only means that is used and which is democratically recognised in the country to effect change is elections through the ballot box. Therefore, he said, all parties in the country subscribed to democracy and none has subscribed to a coup.
“July 22, 1994, is synonymous to a coup,” he said. He also said nobody can dispute this fact because it was the day when a democratically elected government under the PPP leadership, was overthrown. He described this as the day democracy was killed in the country and the beginning of so many human rights violations.
He said a democratic oriented person, a civic member of parliament and a democratic oriented party should not subscribe to a day when democracy was killed in the country.
“It is a coup, a criminal act which cannot be condoned in anyway,” Ceesay said.
Therefore, he added, any party or organisation that attempts to celebrate July 22 1994, is subscribing to a coup and should be banned. He further said any attempt to celebrate the day is tantamount to a mockery of democracy.
He said to glorify July 22 1994, which was a criminal act, is aiding a coup, and that this is a serious crime for anyone to face the full force of the law.
“What happened on July 22, 1994, is a criminal act and should be condemned by all and sundry” he said. He described the coup as a betrayal to the country and is criminalised by the laws of the land because President Jammeh, as he then was a soldier, took the oath of allegiance to serve the nation by securing and defending the integrity of the country. He added that soldiers are paid from taxpayer’s money, to defend the state from external aggression; but that former president Jammeh turned his gun against the Jawara regime that was democratically elected and overthrew it, which, he described as the highest level of betrayal to one’s country.
He continued that many coups were plotted against former president Jammeh, but were all unsuccessful. He averred that those captured were either executed or sentenced to death which he held is a clear manifestation that the 22 July coup, should not be commemorated because it was illegal.
“If the day was to be glorified, why did Jammeh brutally face those who plotted against him, as he did in 1994?” Ceesay questioned. He said those attempted coups years after 1994, during the tenure of former President Jammeh, all faced the due process of the law because it was a criminal act. He commended the Barrow government for their position on the commemoration of the July 22 1994 coup; that the government is a democratically elected government and will not allow any group to glorify and celebrate a criminal act.
He said APRC is a registered political party and they have the right to organise their own party functions and discuss about party issues but they cannot celebrate July 22, 1994 because the party was not founded in 1994.
“I will call for the banning of the APRC party if they continue to push the agenda of July 22 1994,” he said.
In his final statement, Mr. Ceesay said the celebration will be a mockery to democracy in the new dispensation of the country because the country is now enjoying democracy with a democratically elected government.