As the remorseless APRC struggle to rebrand itself, it is important to remind fellow Gambians about the traumatic social, economic and political scar left on the citizenry by this party during the administration of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. Let’s take a look at some of these toxic experiences.
Political differences and affiliations were always part of our societies. People in the same household, families and communities could belong to and even vote for different political parties and still maintained respect, unity, harmony and trust between and among themselves.
But, the advent of APRC has taken on a dangerously bizarre, intimidating, divisive and violent political approach, causing nightmares, suspicions and devastation in the entire country.
Under APRC, family members were turned against each other, communities divided and revered traditional values holding societies together utterly disrespected along political lines.
For example, village alkaloship that used to be the exclusive hierarchical domain for original settlers were replaced with blind partisan loyalty leading to relationships steeped in bad blood and mistrust and those who wished to hold onto these positions must prove their unflinching support to APRC and President Jammeh by any and all means necessary.
We have all witnessed or heard of rice and other food items being distributed in villages, towns and cities among only APRC supporters, leaving out the rest as if they didn’t matter. Tractors, power tillers and fertilizers that were purchased with public funds in the guise of supporting agricultural mechanization efforts were only handed over to APRC supporters across the country as gifts from President Jammeh in appreciation of their work for the party. These beneficiaries, who were mostly identified by APRC regional and local structures, included regional governors, Chiefs, National Assembly members and Yayi Compins.
APRC party had never shied away from orchestrating pre-election intimidation and post-election violence against opposition members during its 22 years in power. Defunct July 22 Youth Movement turned Green Boys played active roles in provoking, beating and forcibly dispersing opposition gatherings.
Wave of arrest, sacking, demotion and redeployment of civil servants and members of security service who were believed to be either opposition sympathizers or had their relatives in opposition followed every election cycle. Most Gambians lost their legitimate earnings, personal security and liberty for absolutely nothing other than holding different political views in 22 years under APRC than at any time in our political history.
I was hoping that APRC would use this tour to reconnect and apologize to Gambians for the terrible experience endured in the last 22 years. Instead, the party has taken up an even provocative posture by demanding the return of their exiled party leader and former president Jammeh devoid of accountability in a classic case of insensitivity and insanity.
This solidly confirms that APRC is a party that is all about fighting for Yahya Jammeh alone and those fighting for the cause of Yahya Jammeh. Anyone and anything outside of this realm does not matter.
By every measure, APRC is a party that broadly epitomizes the darkest chapter in our country’s history and is a representative of fear, division, intimidation and repression which should not be forgotten so soon.
To fellow Gambians: irrespective of your dissatisfaction or support for the current government of President Barrow, please note that opposing APRC party remains legally and morally imperative that should not be lost on anyone. The party is still operating on the principles and ideologies of former President Jammeh on whose orders, direct knowledge and complicity our fellow citizens were murdered, jailed, tortured, raped and exiled.
Thus, the urgency of now involves seeking justice for Jammeh’s many victims and recovering stolen funds while getting our country on credible democratic and governing pathway. This is not the time for pandering to APRC misinformation, distortion, provocation and cynical propaganda. Let us not forget that!