GAMBIA BAR STATEMENT ON ALLEGED COUP PLOT

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In its statement, the Gambia Bar Association emphasised that any unconstitutional change of government constitutes a direct attack on the sovereignty of the Gambian people and the usurpation of their right to choose their government. They urged the government to adhere to due process in their investigation of the alleged plot and reiterated the need to implement the security sector reform. The full text of the statement is as follows:

Friday, 23rd December, 2022

STATEMENT ON ALLEGED COUP PLOT BY SOME MEMBERS OF THE GAMBIA ARMED FORCES

The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) has been closely following reports of an alleged coup plot against the Government of the Gambia reported online. This report was subsequently confirmed by an official press release from the Office of the President on Wednesday 21st December, 2022. As a rule of law institution, the GBA unreservedly and unequivocally condemns any attempt to remove the democratically elected Government of the Republic of The Gambia.

As a sovereign Republic, power resides in the people from whom all organs of Government derive their authority. No person or group of persons has the authority to overthrow or attempt to overthrow a government elected by the people by the use of force or unlawful means. Accordingly any attempt or unconstitutional change of government constitutes a direct attack on the sovereignty of The Gambian people and a usurpation of their right to choose their government. The GBA wishes to reiterate and reaffirm the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia which proscribes any action or attempt to overthrow the Government as treason and punishable under our penal code.

As a country that endured 22 years of a brutal dictatorship ushered through a coup d’etat in 1994, the country is still coming to terms with the devastating impact on respect for the rule of law, systemic human rights abuses and wanton violence that ensued under the previous regime. As a nascent democracy, rebuilding our country premised on respect for the rule of law, human rights, constitutionalism and democratic value. The respect for rule of law is sacrosanct in a democracy and as a country, the Gambian citizenry have voted for democratic governance under which only the sovereign people of our republic have the power to change our government in accordance with our constitution and laws of the land. Any attempt to change the government by unlawful means is unacceptable, regressive and a reversal of our democratic gains.

The GBA’s position on Unconstitutional Change of Government is without prejudice to the ongoing investigations against persons alleged to have been involved in a plot to overthrow the Government of the Gambia. Whilst we unreservedly condemn all forms of Unconstitutional Change of Government in The Gambia and beyond, the GBA urges the Government to thoroughly investigate the alleged coup plot and accord the detained persons their constitutional and legal rights at all stages. The GBA urges the authorities to follow due process and adhere to laws of the land as throughout the investigative process.

We take this opportunity to reiterate the critical need to implement the much needed security sector reform to help reposition and repurpose our security forces befitting under our current democratic dispensation.

Salieu Taal

President,Gambia Bar Association