Not yet UHURU as the East African saying goes.
Hi Pa in as much as I share many points in your article, I would also like to remind Gambians of certain facts on politics and elections in the Gambia.
- Comparing presidential elections and parliamentary elections is like day and night.
- In Gambian elections elections, people vote for individuals and not for parties. When Jammeh stands elections many Casamance foreigners are brought in to vote for him. Immediately after casting their votes these thousands probably hundred thousand or more of foreigners go back home only to come back 5 years later for a repeat in greater numbers. Most of these foreigners carry double identities of Senegal and the Gambia. Border controls, search and screening of these people when entering the Gambia during election time is not enforced by both Senegalese and Gambians authorities. It then goes without saying that these people come to Gambia only to vote for Jammeh and no one else. These foreigners however do not generally participate in the parliamentary elections, that aspect of voting is left for Gambians to decide whom they want to put in the House of Parliament. This is why voter counts are always far greater in presidential elections in all constituencies than in parliamentary elections.
- Therefor people who voted for the NRP candidate in Lower Saloum do not automatically translate into a vote against Jammeh in the next presidential elections. There are obviously people who are only against the APRC candidate but not against the party when it comes to Jammeh contesting presidential elections. Political parties especially PDOIS are experts in analyzing numbers in electoral results but fail to appreciate and distinguish between the dynamics governing the presidential elections and parliamentary elections. Most opposition politicians in fact dive this fact when appealing to Gambian in the diaspora for help. It is important to mention and differentiate between the two elections here.
- A- there is always a wide margin between the vote count of presidential and parliamentary elections. Presidential elections are important to many voters whiles parliamentary elections are of little interest to many voters in the constituency. In some constituency cases because the APRC candidate is not appreciated people generally mobilize to make sure that candidate do not pass and therefor automatically rally behind an opposing candidate just to teach the APRC a lesson for not choosing their preferred candidate. This is exactly what place in Banjul and other constituencies. In this case they are showing Jammeh that he and his close collaborated should keep hands off the selection process when it comes to electing the members of parliament and nothing else.
- B- Jammeh has been thought the same lesson on several occasions to keep off the selection process but does not take heed because of his authoritarian character and the lies his close praise singers tell him about their preferred choice. This is one reason why Jammeh turns back and hails all kinds of insults and punishments on the people suggesting to him the loosing candidate. Anyway that is their damn business as we want to see both Jammeh and his enablers off the State House but this is the fact as it stands today in the Gambia.
- C- we all know that voters did not vote for NRP as party either. Amath Bah the party leader does not carry any political weight in Gambia or Saloum as he himself repeatedly lost the region on presidential elections and parliamentary elections on the constituency he contested. It is a fact that the people of Lower Saloum simply voted for the person of Momodou Bamba Gaye because they like him and appreciate the work he personally does for them and not because he is an NRP candidate or opposition candidate. Several independents candidates have won parliamentary seats in the past for two main reasons: 1- because they are not selected by the ruling party and want to prove their popularity whiles avoiding to identify with any opposition party or 2-Because they are doing a fantastic job in their constituency using other means not provided by any party as in the case Bamba Gaye. This goes to show that Gambians vote for individuals and not for political party per se. This is also true for the presidential candidates.
That being the case, please let us not think this parliamentary victory is a pointer and a warning towards Jammeh loosing the upcoming presidential elections. Jammeh as we know has the state machinery as well the repressive and intimidating NIA system at his disposal including the fraudulent and massive registration of foreigners who will vote for him.
So as far as presidential elections in the Gambia are concern, it is not yet UHURU.
Thanks for attention.