NRP Voters In Lower Saloum Have Delivered A Referendum On The Ruling APRC Gov’t and Yahya Jammeh

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Hamat Bah 1The opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) candidate Momodou Bamba Gaye has won the Lower Saloum by-election, the Freedom Newspaper can report. Mr. Gaye won with decisive lead ahead of his APRC opponent Kebba Touray. Mr. Gaye registered 2,793 votes, while the APRC’S Kebba Touray secured 1, 613 votes. The entire APRC government machinery were in Lower Saloum to campaign for their candidate Kebba Touray. The likes of Minister Balla Jahumpa, Ousman Sonko, and CRR Governor Omar Khan, were on the ground to canvass for votes for Touray. But at the end of the day, the people of Lower Saloum have spoken. They have handed an early verdict against dictator Yahya Jammeh and his ruling APRC—by signaling to them that change of the status quo is inevitable in the 2016 Presidential elections, provided that the conditions for credible elections are in place. 

Lower Saloum has been an APRC stronghold all these years. But the regime’s systematic divisive politics is catching up with them. The will of the people supersedes a dictator’s will. And that’s what exactly the people of Lower Saloum have demonstrated on Thursday.

The millions of dalasi spent by the APRC during the campaign trail never stopped voters from voting against their candidate Kebba Touray. The NRP victory is a referendum on Yahya Jammeh and his dying APRC. Jammeh should know by now that Gambians are determined to take their country back. The public’s resentment against his leadership would be manifested in a free, fair and transparent elections.

Despite the recent increment of election deposits for aspiring candidates, notwithstanding Jammeh has lost one of his political strongholds Lower Saloum. The monetization of the electoral process will not stop Gambians from taking their country back.

The APRC political operatives will no doubt be in trouble after failing to secure victory for Jammeh’s chosen candidate Kebba Touray. Balla Jahumpa in particular has been bragging during the campaign trail that they will sweep the polls. Now the NRP has emerged victorious. What a shame?

Since 1997, the Ruling APRC has been holding a steady grip on the Lower Saloum seat. The opposition could not secure the seat. Lower Saloum was a no go area for the opposition. But it is no more!

The following factors led to the defeat of the APRC candidate: One, the sacking of Governor Ganji Touray of Ballangarr has angered the voters in the region. Ganji was a strong pillar of the ruling APRC government. His absence in the government has far reaching political ramifications on the party’s future.

Secondly, the sacking, jailing and subsequent exiling of Gumbo Touray, a former official of the University of The Gambia, also never went down well with the people of Lower Saloum. Both Gumbo Touray and Ganji Touray are natives of Ballangarr.

Thirdly, Jammeh’s imposition of a candidate against the will of the voters also contributed to the party’s political misfortune. His apparent neglect of the region in terms of socio economic development has made voters to feel being marginalized by the regime. Kaur is the home of cross border trade. Jammeh has banned the weekly Lumo in Kaur, which used to attract a huge revenue for the region.

The banning of the Kaur Lumo was one of the major political blunders ever committed by Jammeh.  We call it an economic suicide on the side of Jammeh. The Lumo was the main source of economic activity for the people of Lower Saloum.

The execution of Daba Marena, the former NIA chief, has also angered the people of Kaur. The failure on the side of Jammeh to produce Daba, when he “pardoned” the prisoners never went down well with the voters.

Daba is a native of Kaur Janneh Kunda. He was Jammeh’s key political operative in addition to his NIA job. He has brought a lot of people into the APRC party while serving as a Governor in Basse; only for him to be rewarded with mock execution by the dictator. Daba has also employed many Kaur natives into the NIA.

Families members, loved ones, and friends converged at Daba’s home, when Jammeh announced to release the prisoners. To their surprise, Daba was not among those released. Daba Marena is in his grave. This is the naked truth Yahya Jammeh is hiding from the people of Lower Saloum. 

Jammeh has burnt down many bridges in the span of his twenty one years rule. Now, oppressed Gambians have started delivering their verdict against a man, who has consistently lied, deceived and divided them over the years in the name of consolidating his dying dictatorship. Jammeh’s divisive politics is hunting him.

It should be noted that despite the NRP election victory, Hamat Bah defied his colleagues in the opposition and sponsored a candidate to take part in a monetized elections. Hamat’s latest action to partake in a monetized elections, goes to show that he is in agreement with the APRC by killing franchise in this country. Mr. Bah should desist from legitimizing constitutional amendments that will muzzle participatory democracy in The Gambia. That’s our view on the issue.

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