Dr. Isatou Touray is warmly welcome to our nation’s political landscape. She has all rights as a Gambian citizen, to run for the Presidency, especially at a time, when our country, is at crossroads. Dr. Touray’s candidature is long overdue. Welcome sister.
That said, Dr. Isatou Touray’s apparent shortcut to seek elected office as President of The Gambia, should be addressed in good faith without any malice. First, and foremost, Ms. Touray’s emergence at this hour, has been occasioned largely by the following reasons: Firstly, it is evident that there is complete disintegration amongst the main existing opposition parties in this country. Parties are not willing to form an alliance to oppose incumbent dictator Yahya Jammeh. Hence, Dr. Touray thought that by coming in as an Independent Candidate, she could serve as a bargaining chip for the divided opposition.
Secondly, the main opposition UDP, has been faced with a leadership vacuum, following the jailing of their leader Ousainou Darboe and co. Darboe himself has been disqualified by the age limit associated with the Presidency. Hence, the UDP, has been in dilemma or should I say procrastinating in nominating a flag bearer.
Adama Barrow, a businessman, has been named as the party’s presumptive flag-bearer, pending an IEC nomination approval by the Commission. Barrow is likely not going to appear on the UDP ticket—given the behind the scene moves taking place for Dr. Touray to lead the proposed opposition merger. Dr. Touray has not just emerged as an Independent Candidate out of the blue. She is a “bargaining chip” candidate, who thinks she can capitalize on the current opposition disintegration to restore sanity among the divided opposition.
Thirdly, Mama Kandeh’s candidature, has given hope to the likes of Dr. Touray to test the political waters. Unlike Mama, some political observers believe that Dr. Touray’s move to contest the Presidency in the form of an Independent Ticket, clearly exposes her lack of confidence and seriousness to run for the Presidency. Any serious candidate, interested in governing ought to have run a legally registered grass-roots political party. If Dr. Touray is seriously interested in vying for the Presidency, she should have come up with a political party and not to run as an Independent, one observer noted. She is on a political gamble and time will tell, the observer added.
As rightly articulated by Saihou Mballow, on Freedom Radio Gambia, the other day, The Gambia is not undergoing political transition. There is a functioning dictatorship, which has assaulted all democratic freedoms and liberties. Unless Dr. Touray is living in a “la la land” she ought to know better. Assuming that Yahya Jammeh was out of the picture, Isatou coming in as an Independent Candidate, will not even change the dynamics. She must establish serious ties with the electorate or at least have the backing of the formidable existing political parties in order to accomplish her political quest to become the First Gambian woman President.
It is imperative to note that Isatou has no political experience or grass-roots support base to earn her enough votes to be elected into the Presidency. Her primary hope is to lead the divided opposition in the event of an alliance. And that’s a delusional hope—given the ideological differences among the respective parties. She might end up teaming up with some of the parties based on political marriage of convenience.
It should be noted that Dr. Touray had an excellent rapport with the folks at the PDOIS. In fact, PDOIS has onetime extended an invitation to her to join their party—with the hope of availing her with the opportunity of running on a PDOIS ticket, but she turned it down. She was also onetime approached by the opposition to lead an alliance, but she refused to show up.
Dr. Touray is on her own right, as stipulated by the 1997, Republican Constitution, to contest the Presidency, as an Independent candidate. We got it. But her “viability” as an Independent Candidate, without the backing of the existing opposition parties, is the problem. Isatou should endeavor to engage her colleagues so that a viable candidate can lead the opposition in the coming polls. Any political marriage between Isatou, the UDP, and PDOIS, leaving the other parties will not yield any meaningful electoral results.
Mama Kandeh, is an important player politically, as far as ejecting Jammeh from power is concerned. Sidelining him, or trying to compel him to embrace an independent candidate power scavenger, could amount to a political suicide. The opposition must embrace a democratic selection process for a flag-bearer without favoring any party, or Independent Candidate. We rest our case.