Following the 3 Years Jotna protest on Sunday, The Association of NGOs/CSOs in The Gambia, TANGO and its mediating partners during the stalemate between State Authorities and the Three Years Jotna movement, has proposed a National Consultative Dialogue for Peace Building in the Gambia. TANGO further called on the government and other stakeholders, including political parties, pressure groups and the International Community to support and collaborate in this process. This was contained in a press release issued on January 29, 2020.
Below is a copy of the press release.
The Association of NG0s/CSOs in The Gambia, TANGO and its mediating partners during the stalemate between State Authorities and the Three Years Jotna movement, are deeply concerned and utterly disappointed about the unfortunate outcome of 26th January 2020 protest and hereby write to state our distaste in the manner the whole issue was handled.
It will interest the general public to know that under the leadership of TANGO a Mediation Team, with representation from Civil Society, Business Community, Youth, Women and the Religious fraternity, was constituted on Tuesday l4th January 2020, the immediate purpose for this body, amidst rising security concerns, was to play a mediating role in bringing the above mentioned parties into a dialogue, in a bid to chart a way forward in the best interest of our dear nation” The team then decided to meet the two parties separately and ultimately together for a dialogue, This we did successfully and arrived at a mutual conclusion with the signing of a joint declaration on the Friday 17th January 2020, after several days and hours of meetings which led to the De-escalation of the rising security tensions.
Pursuant to this the mediating team has been in constant contact with both parties all through the following week to ensure that the spirit of the joint declaration was honored, it is apt to point out here that at this stage, we had the full cooperation of both parties and this was very commendable.
It must be clearly stated here that TANGO and its Mediating Partners stand by the Gambian Constitution, with reference to section 25 (d) of 1997 Constitution, in guaranteeing the fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the people, amongst which is the right to assembly and expression, This right must be guaranteed and protected if ‘Never Again’ is to become our National Reality, lt is this stance that led to our willingness to play a mediating role and ensure that the Rights of the Three Years Jotna Movement, as Gambian Citizens, to assemble and express their concerns be respected.
The state on a number of occasions has made allegations referring to the Movement as being a subversive group, this is of grave concern to us, because during the course of all our meetings which all ended amicably, this was never apparent nor implied. We will not condone or facilitate mediation with any group or persons outside the scope of legality. We dealt with the Executive of the Three Years Jotna Movement, all through the mediation efforts and they continually reiterated their commitment to the peace and security of the nation and that they had no intention of unseating President Barrow but rather being a pressure group reminding the President of his Promises and other Politicians in future to honour their promises to the electorate.
On the day of the protest, protesters were dispersed using tear gas, protesters in return pelted the security forces with stones, many were injured and some hospitalized. Journalist have been arrested and radio stations suspended from operations and the arrests of over a hundred civilians noted”
We commit ourselves to the-rights of all citizens to exercise their basic fundamental rights peacefully and within the ambits of the law.
We strongly oppose the action taken by Government in closing down two radio stations without following the due process of the law. We consider this to be tantamount to Government clamping down on freedom of expression.
We reject the pronouncement by Government in stating that any third party having any dealings or contacts with Three Years Jotna movement will “..face severe consequences”, we are here for the people and for the people we will ever remain” The rights of those in custody to a fair trial should be guaranteed. We will be watching closely to ensure that their rights are in no way violated,
It is our firm belief that the outcome of the 26th January planned peaceful protest, could have been avoided if the spirit of the agreement was respected.
We call on the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a full and speedy investigation into the events leading to planned protest and thereafter.
We reiterate the need for the creation for a Gambian infrastructure for Peace.
We therefore wish to propose a National Consultative Dialogue for Peace Building in the Gambia and call on the government and other stakeholders, including political parties, pressure groups and the international Community to support and collaborate in this process.
The Mediation Team stands ready to continue facilitating dialogue and calls on all and sundry to come together to seek a peaceful and socially cohesive nation.
Long live the Gambia our homeland.
John Charles Njie
Chairman, TANGO/ Mediating Team.