Gambia – There was drama at the TANGO secretariat today when the director of the civil society organisations umbrella body in Gambia, Ousman Yabo, attempted to withdraw permit granted to the Inter-Party Committee on Opposition Coalition unification to hold a press conference at their secretariat.
The drama started when Mr Yabo informed the organisers of the media conference that they could not hold their meeting on their premises as he was not informed.
“I could go to jail if I allow you to hold your press briefing here,” Yabo told one of the organisers, Kebba Singhateh, surrounded by angry colleagues and journalists. “We will hold the press conference here because we have paid for the hall two weeks ago and if there was a breakdown of communication between you and your staff, then that is your business,” Singhateh replied.
The TANGO boss later asked his staff to all leave the TANGO premises at once as they do not want to be associated with the press conference.
Yabo, his deputy, Madi Jobarteh, and the rest of the TANOG staff all left the premises at once, as the conference organisers waited for their guests to arrive.
During the conference, which started late in the afternoon, the Inter-Party Committee on Opposition Unification said in a joint statement that they were throwing their weight behind a united force to challenge the ruling APRC party.
The statement read by the committee’s secretary Musa Sonko, states in part, “A united force to challenge the ruling APRC party in the December 1 presidential elections is the best option for defeating President Jammeh at the polls. Gambians living in and outside the Gambia are all yearning for a unity among all opposition parties.
“The deteriorating economic situation causing immense suffering to all Gambians is unsustainable and unbearable and therefore needs urgent and concerted efforts to restore the ailing economy.
“The uneven political playing field in favour of the APRC since its transformation from a military junta to civilian rule and the recently enacted draconian Electoral Amendment Act 2015, are all designed to stifle the prospects and chances of the opposition to effect the most needed change of government and system.
“It is therefore imperative for the opposition parties to revisit their stance and demonstrate their beliefs in the ideals of social justice and individual liberty. If we do not do it, and we can, we should not expect anyone to do it for us.”
In his remarks, Mr Kebba Singhateh, the chairman of the committee, said “Gambia is sinking politically and economically and the cream of the country, the young people continuous to desert the country in their numbers in search of greener pasture whilst the APRC regime is using all mechanisms to cling to power.”
“The current economic and political situation is unbearable and the suffering is enough,” he said. “The tactics by the regime to suppress and oppress genuine democracy through draconian electoral laws are unacceptable.”
He said the quest for genuine democracy is on the lips of every truth loving Gambian and that this cannot come by in the absence of genuine electoral laws to level the political playing field.
Meanwhile, the committee comprises six opposition parties among them the UDP, NRP, NCP, GPDP, GMC, NDAM AND PPP. The committee is supported by independent contestants and their supporters. Halifa Sallah’s PDOIS party has since not expressed desire to join the committee despite initial attempts by the committee for the party to do so. The meeting was graced by opposition political party leaders including Ousainou Darboe, Hamat Bah and others.
Written By Our Correspondent