An Exclusive Interview our Journalist (Ansumana S.O Nyassi) had with Adama Barrow the 'Coalition Independent Candidate' at his residence in Yarambamba on Tuesday, 29th November 2016 two days before Gambians went to the polls.
The interview reflected on his campaign messages and promises including human rights, the economy and politics, which were made by the Coalition team in their nationwide presidential campaign.
S.O Nyassi: Today is the campaign deadline; you and your entourage have been on a rigorous nationwide campaign for the past two weeks. How do you assess the impact of the campaign ahead of 1st December presidential election?
Barrow: "We have an excellent campaign with a very strong team full of experienced politicians. We learned a lot during the tour and overall it is excellent to rate it. We believe the crowd we have been pulling can turn into victory because we were not mobilizing anybody." "We were informing them about the message that the meeting will take place at particular place and they come out. People sit and wait for us in the street at 3, 4 and 5 am waiting for our arrival in every village until our final destinations of meetings. So it is the people who are ready."
S.O Nyassi: You have been promising the electorates of releasing political prisoners if elected, who are these political prisoners you are talking about, will it be limited to the recently jailed UDP members including Lawyer Ousainou Darboe or all other political prisoners?
Barrow: "There will be no discrimination or scope to determine who will be released or not but everyone will be released from prisons as far as it is politics that puts them in Mile 2 or in any other prisons in the country."
S.O Nyassi: What about those subjected to enforced disappearance under the APRC regime including journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and Kanyiba Kanyi who have gone missing for about a decade now?
Barrow: "This is not a witch hunt on any person we are doing everything on principle and the principle is that we want to change a system. And if we get there and change that system we will follow the due process and the Constitution and it is not personal."
S.O Nyassi: Let me bring you home now because that is where I belong, Media freedom is curtailed in the Gambia making it so hard for journalists to operate freely. What plans do you have for the media industry?
Barrow: "Media bill consists of very bad laws which are meant to suppress information. In our government, we will be opened by bringing in good laws to accommodate journalists to exercise their right freely because we want people to be enlightened and without the media that cannot happen." "There will be complete reform on media laws including false news and sedition and we will set up a highly qualified people to look into these things and we bring in things that will suit this country and democracy."
S.O Nyassi: Do you think 3 years transitional agreement with Coalition partners is enough for you to ensure constitutional reform as well as putting the foundation for the economy on the right footing?
Barrow: "It is a process but when we get there we will work very hard to make sure we do all that within 3 years. That is what we want and that is what we signed and we want to respect that. This is all hands on deck to make sure we finish up the process within 3 years."
S.O Nyassi: Would you put President Jammeh on trial, would you lock-him up if you are elected?
Barrow: "As I said we are not witch hunting anybody and it is not personal. The principle is democracy and it is our right to contest election and that is why we are contesting election. We don’t have anything against anybody but after winning the election we will follow the due process."
S.O Nyassi: Would you ban the ruling APRC party if elected?
Barrow: "We will not ban the APRC. Banning APRC means coming back to the same thing that Jammeh was doing and we don’t want to dictate any Gambian. We want Gambians to operate freely and they will decide who to become their president and their representatives."
S.O Nyassi: What if you lose the election, would you accept it in good faith?
Would you concede defeat?
Barrow: "I am not going to lose I am going to win and it is clear that the victory is mine. It is in black and white and in big writing that everybody can read. We are going to win and it will be a distant win."
S.O Nyassi: Many African leaders will say they will serve for a certain period, for one or two terms if they are elected into office, which is not the case many a times. You continue to stress the coalition agreement and you have been saying you will serve for only 3 years as per the coalition accord, hope you won’t betray the trust of the people by ditching the agreement at some point?
Barrow: "This time it will be completely different because we are complete different individuals. It is not even my interest to become president. Not at all! I know that if you are president and behaves yourself as the president working for the people even for one year you remained president forever. I have that principle."
S.O Nyassi: President Jammeh was quoted on GRTS that he will not leave power even by election, because he is elected by God not the people. What do you make of his statement?
Barrow: "That is just ridiculous statement because if you are not elected by people then why are you contesting election. He has been contesting election for the years past and we even saw how he celebrated so that is just a mere talk."
S.O Nyassi: What message do you have for your supporters?
Barrow: "I will tell the coalition supporters to be very peaceful because we are winning. If you are winning there is no point of frustration but the losing side should have frustration. So with that confidence, we don’t have to spoil our chance."
S.O Nyassi: Thank you for your time Sir.
Barrow: The pleasure is mine.