Democratic dispensation does not preclude elected officials and leaders from making their case to the public either in the form of clarification or debunking unfair and misleading criticisms directed at them.
In doing so, politicians carefully choose their audience and platform to deliver their rebuttal for effective dissemination and maximum impact.
I am surprised that some members of CSOs and other genuine fighters in the restoration of the current democratic governance have not only taken personal ownership of President Barrow’s statement but they grossly misconstrue it by concluding that they are the specific intended targets of his remarks hence the unnecessary, temperamental reaction.
Since assuming office, President Barrow has, on numerous occasions, expressed sincere appreciation, grace and gratitude to Gambians for the sustained campaign against the bloody dictatorship of former President Jammeh culminating his humiliating defeat at the polls.
It is not lost on President Barrow that the December 2016 historic election victory was a Gambian victory made possible by the efforts and votes of Gambians within and outside the country. President Barrow understands that the election triumph did not come only from the votes and sacrifice of the rural Gambia.
However, the President is within the parameters of historical facts in pointing out the exceptional courage and sacrifice of some rural dwellers during the height of tyranny, especially those with no formal education, who had to occasionally travel long distances to confront Jammeh in his backyard at huge personal cost.
There is nothing divisive about this and it does not in any way discount or downplay the effort of urban centers who voted massively for the Coalition.
Upon relegation to opposition status by Gambian voters and their diaspora allies, sore APRC supporters, unprepared for and unaccepting of the new role, have led the toxic efforts on cyberspace and elsewhere in trafficking hate, manufacturing vitriolic information and incessantly attacking President Barrow, his administration and his records at every opportunity.
As has been repeatedly argued, Gambians went through hellish political, economical and social nightmare under the turbulent APRC government, yet it’s supporters had resisted – at times violently – every effort mobilized to secure lasting freedom and good governance for our fellow citizens.
Today, these same loudmouth APRC diehards, fringe elements and fanatics accuse this government of rights violations, corruption and nepotism without an iota of proof and without truth when they cannot even acknowledge the blatant systemic decadence registered under Jammeh.
Thus, it behooves those of you trying to spin President Barrow’s statement for cheap political point scoring by infusing tribal and regional delineation or cleavage into the speech to kindly refrain from this dangerously divisive path and temper the rhetoric.
The counterpunch is aimed at those who supported dictatorship, refused to join efforts in ending the murderous regime, remained mute during the impasse but are today crying their lungs out against his leadership and government. Any attempt to make this your favorite urban center versus rural area warfare will certainly not fly.
Also bear in mind that through your unalloyed support, President Barrow won the election to give Gambians what Jammeh and APRC denied us for 22 years including the guarantee of free speech.
There is no way the President is trying to shut anyone down or stifling reasonable dissenting voices; he is responding to the disingenuous critics who were never supportive of the liberation struggle and are not in support of his government – something he is entitled to as a citizen and for which he has your mandate to do as a democratically elected President.