African Women Urge Gambia’s Military to Show True Patriotism
PETITION TO THE WIVES OF GAMBIAN ARMY OFFICERS
January 17th 2017
Dear Wives of Gambian Army Officers,
We, concerned women of The Gambia and Africa, write this letter to appeal to you, to ensure that as wives and mothers, you insist that your husbands, officers of the Gambia National Army respect the will of the Gambian people. Their loyalty should be to the country and not one individual, outgoing President Yahya Jammeh.
You are no doubt aware of the critical situation in The Gambia as your husbands have all been on high alert since December 9 2016, when outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, decided to reject the election results; results which he had previously accepted as the “will of God” on December 2.
Jammeh’s continued posture to remain in power even after his mandate ends on 18th January 2017 as long as the Supreme Court does not rule on his petition and the risk of a regional military intervention to implement the outcome of the polls if negotiations fail, leave many, including your husbands in a very uncomfortable position. Because of this, some of you have already left the country; others have left the barracks and have gone to stay in safe homes with your children.
This untenable situation should not have occurred in the first place. A President that wishes to perpetuate himself in power by force is a threat to the peace and stability. A President who cares about his country would not want to kill his own people simply because they have told him that enough is enough and that after 22 years of misrule they now want to regain their lives and freedoms. The only group of Gambians that have so far not distanced themselves from the outgoing President’s dangerous posture is your husbands.
Hence, the purpose of this open letter is to ask you to dissuade your husbands from fighting against the people of the Gambia on any election related matter- be it peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins or any other activity. Neither should they act on any instruction relating to the closure of offices of any media house, the arrests and detentions of politicians or any member of a Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions, Educational Facilities or Business Entities that has expressed support for change or has written to the outgoing President asking him to relinquish power and hand over the reins of office to the President Elect, Adama Barrow.
We acknowledge the fact that your husbands are responsible for the maintenance of peace and security of the country. Maintaining peace and order does not however mean denying people of their civil and political rights or using force against them.
The Gambia Armed Forces have a historical role to play in shaping the New Gambia and it is our hope that you, the wives of the officers, will also play a pivotal role to ensure they side with the majority of Gambians who voted for change.
During the pre-elections period, however, and the campaign they and some of you demonstrated open support for the incumbent President by wearing party colours and tee shirts, carrying banners and other APRC Party campaign materials. This open support should not translate into any form of violent action against any person seen not to be supporting the outgoing APRC government.
We would want to remind you that in addition to being wives you are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces but also community members as well. You have a pivotal role to play in promoting social cohesion and unity.
Any action that threatens this unity through election violence mandated by orders and carried out by the army is detrimental not only to the people against whom it is directed but to your immediate and extended families as well. Your fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandparents, in-laws, neighbours, friends or business partners may be caught up in the mayhem. Will your consciences allow you to live in peace, or even be part of the newly reconciled Gambia?
You must not forget that in the event that Jammeh wants to stay by force, you will be the first victims as he intends to use your husbands, in the frontline. Even your own lives are at risk in the event that there is conflict. Be reminded that the outgoing President can at any time send his wife, Zeinab and children- Mariam and Mohammed Jammeh to comfort and safety from any eventuality. He also has properties around the world and the means to shuttle them across countries in search of their safety. How many of you can ferry your own children out to safety?
The right and wise thing to do would be to prevail on your husbands to protect the people of The Gambia. Be part of the New Gambia where everyone should have their rightful place and their say.
Act now before it becomes too late!
Ndey Tapha Sosseh
Fatou Jagne Senghor
Mariam Tendou Kamara
Anne Marie Befoune
Seynabou Sy Ndiaye
Lalaissa A. Maiga
Yaye Helene Ndiaye
Edith Yah Brou
Adama Hawa Sow
Me Innocente Tshilanda