If it is true that there is a constitutional amendment to indefinitely extend the expired term of the ICE Chairman and his entourage, then we don’t need a Jahanka marabout to confirm that there will be no political reforms to meet the demands of the opposition. In fact, my hypothesis is that there will be more similar draconian moves to make the political landscape even more tilted in favour of Jammeh.
In my opinion, all these biased electoral rules/laws is a clear revelation of the Government’s firm belief and conviction that the majority of the Gambian people are fed up with the APRC and that there is indeed a real possibility of an opposition victory in the December presidential polls. This should inspire and strengthen the resolve of the opposition parties.
Since it is now clear that there will be no significant political reforms, this leaves only two options for the opposition political parties. It is either they all unanimously boycott the presidential elections until all their demands are met or they all come together and present only one candidate to contest against Jammeh.
However, as an optimist and a believer that a coalition can and will defeat Jammeh, the aim of this blog post is to give my take on a way forward to the formation of an alliance/coalition by the opposition political parties of The Gambia. But first, let us separate the smoke from the fire.
In my opinion, there are actually only three opposition parties in The Gambia which are in a position to present presidential candidates for the December polls. These parties are the NRP, PDOIS and UDP. I arrived at this conclusion because the PPP has made it categorically clear that they will not present any candidate and will instead support any coalition candidate and also because Mai Fatty’s GMC, Henry Gomez’s GPDP and Sheikh Sedia Bayo’s NTCG are all missing in action in the diaspora.
Hamat Bah of the NRP has categorically stated that he is in favour of a coalition formation and I believe that because he was given a chance to lead the NADD coalition in 2011 and failed woefully, he is not expecting to be nominated to lead any coalition this year. So my Fula brother is also out of the list. This therefore narrows down the coalition equation to only two parties which are the PDOIS and UDP.
The PDOIS’ position on coalition formation clearly states that if there are no electoral reforms, then the only way to beat the incumbent is through a unified coalition. So since there are no electoral reforms, the PDOIS is saying that there has to be a coalition of all opposition parties this year.
However, the only obstacle to the formation of a coalition is the PDOIS’ proposal of holding a convention to nominate a coalition flag bearer. I must admit that the idea of a convention is theoretically logical, it is in line with the principles of democracy, and it is the best way to resolve such a critical issue in a normal electoral process. However, because of the fact that the Gambia’s political situation is anything but normal and time is at a premium, it is important for the PDOIS to be flexible in this matter.
To borrow the words of George W. Bush after 911, desperate times calls for desperate measures. Since Jammeh is using every single Machiavellian tactics to remain in power, the opposition must also adopt unconventional methods to form a coalition. If a coalition fails and these two parties ended up running against Jammeh, everyone knows that not only will the PDOIS come out third but Jammeh will be handed over the Presidency on a silver platter. This is why I am convinced that the opposition parties have no option but to unite and unite they must!!!
This now brings me to my challenge to the Gambia’s opposition parties. You must nominate a neutral but formidable candidate who is capable of not only uniting all the opposition parties but also to galvanize the support of the majority of the Gambians especially those sitting on the fence due to their loss of faith on Gambian politics .
To buttress my challenge, I will borrow the words of President Jammeh and my godfather: “Billahi! Wallahi!! Tallahi!!! If the opposition present a female candidate such as Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang or a Christian candidate to lead a united opposition coalition, I will drink blood and eat maggots if Jammeh wins this year’s elections!!!
While hoping and praying for a successful coalition formation, I implore our opposition leaders on the ground to please remember the prominent politicians and other significant personalities in the diaspora who are not on the ground due to reasons beyond their control. Also include in your demands for Gambians in the diaspora to vote this year.
On a final and lighter note, you must also include in your plans an agenda to facilitate Jammeh’s transition to a leadership role in international political affairs so that I will also have a second chance to work as his personal aide and security officer. If you do that, I bet even Jammeh himself will vote for you on 01 Dec.
In this way, everybody becomes a winner including the opposition, the Gambian people, Gambians in the diaspora, President Jammeh himself and all the hundreds of thousands of people like my humble self who served the Second Republic with patriotism, justice and loyalty. I truly believe that we can all smile and no one has to cry anymore. That is why our country is known as the Smiling Coast of Africa!!!
Long live the Republic of The Gambia and long live our peace, security and harmonious co-existence.
Written By Lamin Gano