Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Diabugu Incident Calls For Special Truth And Reconciliation Process

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The Barrow administration was initially crafted to be a transitional administration prior to the 2 December announcement of victory.

The Gambia is full of antagonistic contradictions, ranging from land disputes, disputes on harmful traditional practices and other cultural practices that may no longer be acceptable under international law and national constitutions.

For over fifty years these contradictions were kept under the carpet by previous administrations so that different sides of the customary or traditional spectrum would continue to support the political ambitions of the political players.

Consequently, many norms and values remain intact even though they were no longer permissible in a post-colonial set up where citizens were accorded rights to elect and remove their leaders as well as to stand for election regardless of religion, ethnicity, regional origin or gender. This is why the country had ministers, vice presidents and ambassadors who could be linked to different genders, ethnic groups, regions, religions and superior or inferior birth status according to tradition.

One expected the Barrow administration to create the transitional, political environment that would give Gambia a new start by addressing and resolving all the contradictions once and for all through reforms and civic education. Unfortunately, the late establishment and operation of institutions designed to carry out reforms has led to the bubbling up of the contradictions and the emergence of friction and even violent confrontation to settle land disputes and traditional status as well as labour and political disputes. The fire brigade method of trying to put off the fire instead of preventing it is not the best way of handling the situation during the post Jammeh era. The State Intelligence Service should be given the orientation and mandate to unearth all the antagonistic contradiction in the society and advise government agencies on why they should be prioritise to avoid national catastrophe.

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Ecowas and its troops in The Gambia should be well briefed to know how they can add value to the stability of The Gambia. Recent developments in Diabugu and elsewhere should not be allowed to breed more civil strife. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be established to handle conflicts like that of Diabugu instead of taking the route of due process which is quite legitimate in a democratic society.

Transitions are however transitions. Successful transitions must have the ability to establish transitional justice systems that are required by time and circumstances.

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