Halifa’s views: Halifa Sallah’s open letter to the AFPRC dated the 8th October 1994 sent to NCC.
ON THE FUTURE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE AFPRC AND THE ARMED FORCES:
Unlike many countries where members of the armed forces engaged in so high a degree of atrocities against civilians that they are purged and tried as criminals after a change of government, as has happened in Latin America, in The Gambia, the members of the armed forces had relatively been acting with discipline. the armed forces of The Gambia have proven to be a patriotic army which would deserve the utmost protection and support by any future government.
Those who have the opportunity to behave like patriotic men in uniform and prefer to live under difficulties to prevent their country from disintegrating into chaos would also deserve honour, respect and care.Opinions have been expressed that the members of the AFPRC cannot possibly return to barracks after handing over to an elected government. The fact of the matter, however, is that there are many options before the members of the AFPRC.
Whether one likes it or not, no one can bar them from forming a party and take part in democratic elections. No one can bar them from joining other political groupings to contest elections if they do desire. If they do not want to contest elections, but have done their best to prevent the country from disintegrating and the lives and liberties of the people from deteriorating, any future government would have the obligation to treat them with respect. For example, instead of a Ministry of Defence, they could be part of a Defence Council which shall be empowered to exercise direction and control over all defence matters. They may also wish to represent the country abroad in foreign missions or simply pursue other careers of their choice abroad with the help of foreign governments in order to prepare themselves to participate in future government since they are still young.
In my view, your Committee can make one thing abundantly clear to the members of the AFPRC, that is, if they preside over the affairs of this country with maturity until the country moves into a democratic constitutional arrangement in peace, they are bound never to be forgotten.
To conclude, I must again say that your Committee is constituted to shoulder an unprecedented responsibility, that is, to engineer a new transitional arrangement which can earn sympathy of the Gambian people, the AFPRC and the international community. We must be imbued with absolute and unshakable conviction that we have to succeed through dialogue or perish in isolation through confrontation.
History, the wise judge, is recording every event. Tomorrow it shall deliver her judgment. Our actions today will determine whether we will be vindicated or castigated tomorrow. Time will announce the verdict. We now have the opportunity to think before we act. Let us think maturely and act wisely, then history shall vindicate us.Please, accept the assurances of my highest consideration in supporting you on this.