The leader of the People`s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) Halifa Sallah, has encouraged young people interested in addressing the Gambia`s political problems to go back home and be ready to takeover positions.
Honourable Sallah described proposals made by some Diaspora Gambian critiques for the present opposition leadership to step aside as hypothetical in the absence of a solution which would require them to fill the gap.
In an interview with the Editor of the Freedom Newspaper, Mr. Sallah explains the amount of sacrifice and selflessness required in Gambia`s politics hence one is required to spend his own resources for a meaningful political participation.
50 years of independence from Britain, The Gambia has never experience a democratic change of government, which is now governed by a former military officer Yahya Jammeh who toppled the 30 years Progressive Peoples Party`s government in a coup in 1994 and has since been leading the country.
Halifa Sallah said: “If there is any young person who believes that he or she can save The Gambia, that young person can come in the field, start the process of showing what he or she intends to do for the country. And, build the waves that will energise us to say finally this is the person and let’s give the person support and go.”
“As far as we are concerned any young person who aspires to serve The Gambia selflessly and approaches us will definitely get our support. Whoever wants to be the Secretary General of PDOIS can just come, as far as I am concerned you will get a very good grooming.”
Mr. Sallah got into active politics at a young age of 26 and since then has been at the forefront of the country`s political discourse. Politics in the Gambia is not easy and requires huge sacrifice. Apart from harassment and intimidation from law enforcement officers, opposition parties does not receive funding from neither the state nor from the private sector as exists in developed democracies.
Assan Martin a Human Rights Lawyer said: “They do not want to divorce themselves from bad leadership and poor politics of their parties, no reforms at all, the same old.”
Mr. Sallah`s socialists PDOIS party which is an allied to the British Labour party came into Gambia`s politics since 1986 and is currently amongst the parties whose leadership has been criticised by some exile Gambians for not replacing the current leaders with younger ones.
The newest parties formed in the second republic are Gambia`s Peoples Democratic Party (GPDP) and Gambia`s Moral Congress (GMC) with a younger leadership but could not hold a single political rally for the past five years.
On 7th July 2015 the ruling APRC party used its parliamentary majority to pass a bill that amended the Elections Act and now requires the payment of 1 Million dalasis (£16000) to register a political party and amongst other requirements, D500, 000.00 (£8000) needs to be paid for candidates’ deposits to contest the presidency.
Such a staggering amount is beyond the affordability of an average Gambian civil service worker whose average monthly salary is 3000 dalasi (£48), thereby restricting rights.
According to Sallah who is a US trained Gambian Sociologist/Researcher said that freedom of association gives every Gambian the right to belong to a political party and such right is a sovereign right. He added that those who are engage in selfless sacrifice for building a nation should not be discouraged.
Written By Sulayman Bah