DEPUTY SPEAKER SAYS BARROW’S COMMENTS BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION
President Adama Barrow has come under heavy criticism for comments he made while addressing the ruling NPP supporters at a rally marking the opening of the party’s bureau in Jarra Soma. The president said the country’s democracy is getting out of hand.
His comments were severely criticised by opposition leaders and activists, who labeled the remarks “unpresidential, dangerous, and reckless”.
But his party’s deputy spokesperson and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Seedy Njie, said the president’s comments were necessary to address the unwarranted insults against innocent Gambians but he has no intention to return the country to its dark days.
“The comments were meant to cement his position as the duty bearer of protecting the rights and properties of all Gambians. You don’t expect the president to sit and watch this country descend into anarchy. But I can assure you that his comments were far from attempting to suppress or curtail freedom of expression. He is not even thinking along those lines,” he said.
He said the president will not, under any circumstances, negate his duty to protect the rights and liberty of the people he governs.
“It is the president’s position that we can always agree to disagree, but let us engage in a healthy and productive argument that would chart a better future for this country. Insulting people’s parents and questioning how they were born is not democracy. That is not right, and it is not freedom of expression. If you disagree with someone’s opinion and insults his or her parents, you are not democratic. You are not tolerant. You are vilifying, intimidating, and in conflict with natural and traditional laws. It is also against our religious beliefs as Muslims and Christians. Therefore, the president is trying to right the wrongs because it is his responsibility to ensure that everybody is safe and protected,” he said.
He said the president is apt to say he would not tolerate any individuals or groups that are bent on destabilising the country to go unpunished.
“But if you don’t belong to any organisation, institution, or group that is bent on insulting people, you need not to worry,” DS Njie said.
He said those who make it a habit to insult people’s parents are the most intolerant beings. “Be it their leader or themselves, if you by any chance mistakenly insult them, they will take the law into their hands. So, the president is saying that is not human rights. That is not rule of law. Now he wants to protect everybody, whether you are NPP or not,” he added.
He said that even in the advanced world, citizens do not insult their leaders.
“The president is saying every Gambian has the right to his opinion, and any Gambian has the right to criticise the government, but no one will be allowed to insult him or his government officials,” he noted.
Commenting on fears that Mr Barrow is trying to suppress the media, Njie said those analyses are completely false, adding that the president is committed to consolidating the country’s democratic process.
“What the president said is that no medium will be allowed to host a program and allow people to call in and insult others. You cannot host a program only geared towards insulting the president, government officials, or individuals. So, the president is saying that cannot be accepted anymore. Nobody would be allowed to intimidate or destabilise this country,” he said.
He said no genuine activist or democrat would condemn the president’s comments.
“Politics should be about ideas and policy. It is about what value you can add to make the country better,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Njie said he cannot imagine how great The Gambia would be if people stop insulting and hating each other based on politics or personal vendettas.
Source: The Standard