I am not sure whether it is worth responding to someone who calls himself Maxs but unwilling to tell the readership his true identity. At least people know who Pa Nderry Mbai is and who Sulayman Bah is. However, in a normal political discourse, critics should state their true identities if they want to be taken seriously.

Now that the enemies of Halifa Sallah have continuously gone to the extreme of  dishonestly accusing him for not coming to the streets to defend Darboe and Co from the crunches of power and the legal tangle they found themselves in, it is important to put things in a proper perspective.

Max had only ranted without any specifics or substances as to why Halifa lacks clarity and how he fails to understand that there is military dictatorship in The Gambia. I would therefore not bother to elaborate on most of his rants as they are just a reflection of who he Max is. 

Max and most of his UDP fanatics seem to forget and need to be reminded that Halifa Sallah consciously joined politics. His coming into Gambian politics was not accidental like that of Darboe.

He voluntarily resigned from the Social Welfare Department and joined politics together with likeminded comrades such as Sidia Jatta, Sam Sarr, and late Omar Touray etc. They had seen how the masses were being used to just vote for politicians without knowing their rights and sovereign power.

They choose to get into politics with the primary objective of awakening citizens, enlightenment and promoting sovereignty consciousness etc. This had led them to establish schools, newspaper, community projects and facilities etc. Whether they are elected or not, they would still fulfill their self-assigned responsibility to the people. Unlike UDP, PPP or APRC, they are conscious of the tasks they set themselves to and hence were self-reliant from day one.

Unlike Darboe and UDP who accidentally came into the political scene arising from the ban of PPP and NCP, PDOIS was consciously established with clear vision of its role. Unlike UDP who inherited the supporters of both PPP and NCP in the 1996 election cycle and still maintain that support, PDOIS had to create its own political base and support deriving from the conscious awareness of the voters. Since independence, no single party in the Gambia other than PDOIS had created its own wave and support base.

In 1959, the PPP tapped the alienated rural population when party politics was only limited to Banjul and Kombo. Both NCP and GPP of Sheriff and Assan Musa respectively used their constituency and influence as Vice Presidents to create their parties after falling out with the PPP.

Like I said above, the UDP and Darboe would have been non-existent had these two parties not been banned by the military at the end of the transition in 1996.

It is Max`s opinion that PDOIS has been declining in support even though it is one of the oldest parties in Gambia. I do not think this statement is a fact considering the fact that PDOIS has not stood in an election since 2001. How will that comparison be made?

As I said in my response to Pa Nderry, all these malicious and unfounded criticisms which have no basis have been bandied about in Kaironews online and the PDOIS members have always rubbished them into the dust bin where they really belong to.

Let Max tell your readers which party has better messaging than PDOIS. What is clear as noon day in Gambian politics is that PDOIS is well known for its clarity of vision and purpose and it has always been the most consistent in pursuing policies and programmes which it believes will serve the interest of the Gambian people.

No one can say ‘I do not understand what PDOIS says’. What Max and his likes should say but are unwilling to say is ‘what PDOIS said is the truth but based on my own shortcomings as a person I cannot subscribe to such positions’. That would be fair enough but to insist that PDOIS` messages are not clear is a blatant lie.

Let Max compare PDOIS to the party he supports in Gambia and convince us that his party made more progress than PDOIS because of its messaging.

I challenge Max to also compare his party’s policies and programmes with that of PDOIS and convince readers that his party has better programmes than PDOIS. That will be the best way to convince us that he is not out to promote the politics of pettiness or of mediocre.

Listen to him: “Any given society, you need to understand the nature or “group thinking” of the people before you can successfully win their confidence or votes to support your programs and later when you become successful, you can put in place relevant institutions or policies to transform the society.”

This is the height of opportunism. Max is saying PDOIS should tailor their policies and programmes to what people want at this material time just so they could fool the people and win an election and after winning an election they could then implement their true programmes. This, to him is what understanding the culture and or group thinking means.

 In short, he is saying, what PDOIS is doing is the right thing but since Gambians are not aware at the moment they should simply adopt the bad politics of deception just to win election then come and do the right thing. And, this is what he is accusing PDOIS of and these are our intellectuals, it’s a shame indeed.

Both Max and Pa Nderry had questioned the clarity of Halifa and PDOIS’s messages just because he does not call Jammeh’s name or refer to him as dictator etc. They claim the Gambian people are too dumb to understand the simple messages that they are the architects of their own destiny and politicians are just representative who should be held accountable to them and not the other way round. Max claimed that even the intellectuals cannot comprehend Halifa’s message. This is the biggest insult one can tell Gambians.

In short he is saying, ‘hey PDOIS, you are too honest with the people and this is why you are not winning their votes. Just be a dishonest politician like me if you want to progress.’ No Max, you should do better than this.

The citizens of Wuli had been voting for PDOIS and Sidia. APRC had done everything in their powers to stop them but they said they were aware of their rights and will only vote for a representative not a lord over them. They ended up demarcating Wuli into two constituencies to divide them. Maybe Max, Pa and the surrogates need to be reminded of this.

Unlike Darboe and UDP, both Sedia and Halifa had won in their constituencies of birth, Wulli and Serekunda. While Darboe never and will never win Niani and Serekunda West. Are they now telling us that the people of Wuli are more intelligent and politically conscious than those in Banjul and KMC? Let us stop the hypocrisy people.

Max, the most dishonest politician is the incumbent who has succeeded in amassing national wealth and power from every angle and is using and abusing it to maintain his borrowed power and wealth. The best way to end the vicious cycle of self perpetuating rule is to enlighten those who are the decision makers in putting leaders at the helm. This is a painstaking and a long drawn out enterprise but it is the only viable route for all progressive entities not only in Gambia but Africa as a whole.

We must be honest to our people and not use their lack of sophistication or lack of information to accept the culture of patronage, culture of praise singing or sycophancy, lies, use of ethnicity to win votes, empty promises and high sounding slogans that will never bear fruit at the end of the day.

Now, is Halifa unaware that we are in a military dictatorship? This is the most absurd question one can ask politically in The Gambia or anywhere in Africa. Halifa, who in the very first days of the military coup had told his staff to stay home and personally took the copies of Foroyaa Newspaper in the streets to sell them in defiance of Decree no 4 is today being questioned if he knows there, is a military regime in the country.

He had refused the offer of ministerial positions on the basis of principle that the government was not from the consent of the people. I wonder where Max, Pa Nderry or the UDP surrogates were when Halifa was sleeping on the cold concrete floors of the police headquarters in 1994 and going back and forth to court defending Foroyaa then. No need to go further on that.

All parties who worth their salt have gone through stages that PDOIS is going through and any party unwilling to go through those stages but aiming for short cuts are bound to suffer and die, thus the reason for deaths of all such parties in Gambia.

Take an example of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada which was founded in 1961. It is a social democratic party and has only formed the government in several provinces but has never taken over the national government of Canada. It was only in 2011; it enjoyed an historic electoral breakthrough and became the Official Opposition in Parliament for the first time.

Does that make the New Democrats worthless because it has taken them all these years to win a national election and run government? Only a dummy would say yes.  

I read endless rambling from Max in Kaironews, where he even stated that he has taken upon himself to wage a crusade against PDOIS and I am not surprised to see him transferring his senseless bickering against Halifa and PDOIS to Freedom News. He is so rubbished in Kairo that he has no confidence that he could convince even nincompoops of his hateful slandering devoid of commonsense.

What Max is best known for is, to ascribe statements to people only to come and argue against them. That is the height of intellectual dishonesty.

Unlike the party Max supports, PDOIS has not been established to make any one man president of the Gambia. This is why it is easy for them to select another person as candidate even though the person playing that role has gone beyond the 65 year limit set for candidates. This is why parties that are personalised are experiencing difficulties compelling them to engage in desperate tactics as to plunge them deeper into unrecoverable crisis.

On the issue of why Halifa did not come to the streets to fight for the release of Darboe and co which is in fact their main point of contention. One of them said that the reforms that the UDP is fighting for are the same that the opposition group of six agreed in 2012. If this is the case, why UDP officials and supporters chose to take to the streets without involving their partners? What is the sense of unity in that? Or was it in response to Darboe’s statement at the end of their congress that UDP will go ahead on their own to bring change and will not listen to any fringe an insignificant party who are only good at arguments but have no support? If this is the case, then we have seen exactly what it means to act unilaterally without key players.

Max is only myopic in thinking otherwise he would have by now recognised the efforts PDOIS has consistently contributed towards the freedom of the victims of protest. The fact that contribution is in public domain, it does not need any clarification. However, cowards like Max who are hiding behind anonymous and or foreign names and who made it their preoccupation to instigate innocents to take to the streets only for them to hide behind and do nothing but to blame PDOIS and Halifa for not succumbing to their failed tactics are the biggest criminals Gambia has ever had.

I am not at all surprised to see Max agreeing with Yahya Jammeh who is doing everything to stifle the choice of the people and or deciding the fate of a whole nation by saying a particular ethnicity will not become president for a billion years.

The electability of a candidate will not be known through individual’s opinion, it should be known through only the opinions of the vast majority of the people who want change for the Gambia. This is why PDOIS is calling for some kind of primary to determine the choice of the people. And it is saying it will accept the verdict of the people and would work with whoever that choice is. That should not doubt anyone because PDOIS has supported Hamat Bah in the 2011 elections after he was selected by a Convention through free and fair election. Who is more genuine and clear, Max or PDOIS?

On Max`s response to my comment which reads: “For example, a leader of a political party who knows about all the rules of the game that at age 65, he cannot contest as a candidate and did not do anything during the five years since 2011 but decided to take what may be termed as desperate measure of taking to the streets with a view to creating chaos only in five months to election”

 Let us put things in their correct context and look at things in a fair perspective. Is it not true that the age qualification to be the president of The Gambia was in the 1997 constitution since its inception in January 1997 as between 30 to 65?

Who would say that they are unaware of section 62 (1b) of the constitution, which states that the qualification for President shall be “He or She has attained a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 65 years”. Why did the UDP waited until April 2016 to challenge that law since 1996 when they were established as a party. Maybe I need to be reminded of when and where they had challenged that either when they had 13 members in the national assembly or at any time in the supreme court of the Gambia. If they had not done that, why then did they choose to challenge it only when Darboe turns 67? How then is that statement an insult to the efforts of the peaceful protesters?

Being aware of that constitutional provision disqualifying Darboe, why did the UDP failed to identify a qualified replacement for Darboe as promised before their congress? They had very well calculated their actions as they had appointed every other position and official. Why not a flag bearer? The excuse that the G6 demands were still being pursued was not a good one, because the new flag bearer could always be replaced should the reforms be done and the age bar be lifted. On the other hand, the replacement could shadow Darboe while he is still strongly involved to sell him to the electorates. But they have put all their eggs in a single basket. That is indeed what is called political adventurism.

Now the Protest: Let us look at facts and forget sentiments and emotions. This is not about UDP or PDOIS etc, it`s based on facts and law. Everybody is crying that peaceful protesters are arrested and tortured etc. It is true and we all agree that the torture and killing of the protesters was wrong. Those who call for obedience and compliance to law and order must not be the first to break it. That being said, let’s now look at what the laws of the Gambia say about demonstrations and protests.

Chapter IV of the 1997 constitution guarantees certain rights including the right to assembly, movement, speech etc. But are these rights without responsibility? No. They came with responsibility. As stated in Section 17 (2) Chapter IV of the constitution, every person in the country “Shall be entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual contained in this Chapter, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for public interest”

For the purpose of this rejoinder, this is what section 25 of the same constitution says with regards to freedom of assembly and demonstration. 25 (1) “Every person shall have the right to- (d) Freedom to assemble and demonstrate peacefully and without arms”. However, should the protesters obtain a permit before embarking on the protest? The answer is clearly stated in subsection (4): The freedoms referred to in subsections (1) and (2) shall be exercised subject to the laws of the Gambia in so far as the law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the rights and freedoms thereby conferred, which are necessary in a democratic society and are required in the interests o the sovereignty and integrity of The Gambia, national security, public order …….

This is referring to the Public Order Act which they are fully aware of. Why then didn’t the protesters apply for a police permit? The use of loud speakers specifically requires a police permit too. UDP knows this as it was the very reason why Femi Peters spent six months in jail in 2009 /2010 after their Serrekunda rally. It was the same issue that led to their Fass standoff in 2014. Darboe had categorically said that he was not going to allow the protest if he was aware of it.

How is my statement insensitive and an insult to the protesters? Let us remember that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. This is the case everywhere in the world. Even those organising protests in the UK or US are required to obtain permits prior to going to the streets.

The question as to why Halifa didn’t go to rescue Darboe as if he is the Attorney General or the President who are legally mandated to order for the termination of any legal proceding in the Gambia is the most irresponsible comment. Halifa being a democrat is law abiding. He is aware of his limitations as a citizen who does not control any state power. He is aqually aware of the law that the police has up to 72 hours to bring a person to court or release him. He is equally aware that once a case in court, commenting on it politically or doing certain things can be a contempt to court.

Ordinary citizens can do certain things, but public figures cannot. This is why Dembo By Force and the remaining UDP officails never made any public comments about them. Why are they not blaming them too of insensitivity or refusing to take to the streets. Why don’t those calling on him to go to the streets go there with the hundreds of thousands of their UDP supporters to get Darboe released? You have always said that your party is the biggest and has the highest support, referring to PDOIS as insignificant. Why and how do you expect such a fringe party to go to the streets. Where are your supporters who abandoned you in mid sea?

When did it became the sinquanum to go to the streets to demand for each other’s release in The Gambia? As far as I am aware, it was not the case when Femi Peters, late Syngle Nyassi, Waa Juwara, Amadou Sanneh and others were arrested, detained or even tortured in many cases for UDP. The most we had seen from the leadership was to represent them in court which never prevent their sentensing anyway. How about the disappearance of Kanyiba Kanyi and Rambo? Or maybe the shooting of the unarmed youth in Talinding in 2001 opposite Tombong Jatta’s compound. Or the arrest of hundreds of UDP Supporters. What has the UDP leadership done in all those instances?

Maybe we shoud ask about the several arrests of Halifa and his detentions and remand at mile. Including his arrest with OJ and Hamat in 2005, his arrest in 2009 along with several journalists in defense of Deyda Hydara, and or his arrest, detention and trial in 2009 during his fight fo the thousands of the vulnerable victims of the witch craft incident most of whom were old women and men from Foni, Kombo to Nuimi. We had seen how old people abandoned their villages and stay in bushes or relocate to cassamance, Kiang or Kombo. Thanks to him all that had to stopped. Were you at his aid then? Or you were accusing him of trying to score a poltical point to become famous?

Or maybe we should ask about the April 2000 student massacre or the 2014 mass arrest of parent, relatives and even minor children of the December 2014 attack. Or even the 2015 Kartong Protest and the arrest and detention of over 33 youths for over a week and their subsequesnt trial. What role did you or your parties play in any of those incidents? Let us stop being irrational and be honest to ourselves. We need to remember that whether we like Halifa or not, he is in the good side of Gambian history and no amount of your hatred can rewrite that history.

Regarding your accusaton that Halifa does not want to join coalitions and he is a spoiler, let us examine the imperical and historical facts.

  • 1996, Halifa and PDOIS had called for a coalition and a two year transition to correct the damages of the military rule and properly put in place systems, institutions and governance instruments that would guarantee the soveriengty, dignity and liberty of the people as well as broaden the democratic space. They all disregarded him and went ahead registering their new party inheriting PPP and NCP.
  • 2005, At the time of the creation of NADD, both Halifa and Sedia were members of the National Assembly. In fact, Halifa was a member of the Pan African Parliament at the time. They had both sacificed their positions and massively spent their own and party resources for NADD. All member parties had agreed that flag bearer would be selected (1) by unanimity. (2) Where uninimity fails, then by primary among the interested candidates.

What then happened at the end of the day in 2006, they walked out of the selection process thereby stalling the process. Their excuse was that Darboe should What then happened at the end of the day in 2006, they walked out of the selection process thereby stalling the process. Their excuse was that Darboe should be unconditionally selected as the leader of the biggest party. But why had they never said that all throughout the process of creating NADD? Why did they apend their signature to the MOU?

  • 2011, Coalition building process resumed. The suggestions were, for parties to bring in delegates based on their scores from the last election. E.g. UDP brings 50%, NRP 30% PDOIS 20% others who did not participate in the previous elections 2% independent candidate like Assan Marin no delegates. Again they refused to participate accusing others of not trusting them. How can you accuse others of not trusting you when you refuse to subject yourself to any checks and balances, We have seen how Yahya Jammeh neutralised all his associates after the coup and we have seen how Abdoulie Wade neutralised the likes of Mustapha Nyass, Tanour Jeng, etc in Senegal. If you do not intend to use others to catapult you to power, then entrench yourself there, why wont you subject yourself to fair and impartial conditions.

Who is the spoiler and does not want unity? Who is in fact selfish and only sees himself and his party rather than the country as the bigger picture?

No citizenry could select leaders based on enlightened choice if they are not enlightened and organised as to identify their rightful demands under a new democratic order. Only day dreamers and charlatans like Max would delusion themselves as to engage in cowardice enterprises without regard to its repercussion on those innocents they happened to influence into action.

Only time will tell!

Long Live PDOIS and long live the Gambian people!!  

Written By Sulayman Bah

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