Darboe v Barrow
Why did the coalition ask President Barrow to resign from the UDP? This is a very valid question raised by Almamy Tall the UDP spokesperson? But another question is when the UDP secretary General and Party Leader Ousainou Darboe said no one signed the coalition agreement, does that mean he was admitting that Barrow is still a member of the UDP and therefore Barrow was their flag bearer and coalition presidential candidate?
And yet another relevant question is why did some UDP members meet President Barrow to ask him to come back to the UDP? What is the UDP really saying? Because the more they act and talk in desperation, the more it becomes very confusing. “Barrow is our Barrow good or bad” was what the Serekunda West Member of Parliament Madi Ceesay said on The Fatu Network. Can the UDP help us clarify please? I think they need to admit that it is clear by all indications that the UDP leadership in the person of its party leader has created this confusion. He wants to be the next president but he will not say this publicly, yet it is very clear to him that Barrow felt endorsed by him (Darboe) when he said Barrow must serve a full five year term. But as soon as he said that he started stabbing Barrow in the back, by refusing to allow the man get on with doing the job by embroiling Barrow in endless political wrangling.
So the ball is in the UDP’s court. UDP must admit it is now a divided party split into the Darboe and Barrow camp. Its members, particularly members of parliament and all presidential appointed position holder, including ambassadors, who are known to be politically active, must decide early on who to side with, the incumbent or the aspirant Vice President. Their loss is Barrow’s gain, because removing them will not take away any significant political capital from Barrows presidential prospects. The noise will just intensify, and the law of diminishing return will kick in, because more noise from within UDP will yield just that and nothing else – more noise.
And must I say bravo to the few brave one’s within the UDP who are already coming out in support of Barrow while the bold one’s are going further by pointing fingers at Darboe as the divisive leader. Darboe’s divisiveness has not been spared by other leading opposition members. OJ Jallow has been on the record that Darboe has always been the problem and so have other opposition leaders, openly or in their privacy.
Now Almamy Taal the UDP spokesman can be reasonable but sometimes very economical with the truth. My guess is he is between a rock and a hard place. As a loyal member of the UDP with strong allegiance to their party leader Darboe, am not sure if he even endorses Darboe’s presidential aspirations, however, how can he as a lawyer expect a sitting coalition president accept an invitation to return to his original party (not that Taal is suggesting that but the mere mention suggests some ulterior motives) and risk invalidating his presidency as a coalition elected president. Mr Taal, with all your legal background, am sure you would privately advise the president against such political suicide. Tell your party leader to consider a different strategy.
Asking President Barrow to come back to the UDP is nothing different from asking Ousainou Darboe to publicly endorse Barrow as the UPD flag bearer for the 2021 elections. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we must call a spade a spade, so don’t try to trick Barrow into shooting himself in the foot if you cannot ask the same of Darboe.
In fact the so called congress in nothing worth fighting for, because according to Almamy Tall, it is not about the election of a flag bearer, and given that Barrow cannot be a candidate for the congress, the smart party leader and his spokesman (both lawyers) have closed the only loophole that could have excluded Barrow and safe Darboe the trouble of having to answer that pertinent question of: Who will be the UDP’s flag bearer. But as if to anticipate this loophole, and with a bit of political maneuvering, the UDP deputy party leader Aji Yamou Secka was quoted in the Standard Newspaper of Tuesday 27 October 2018, that Darboe will be lead them into the next elections because he is their party leader. Here we get yet another UDP contradiction to Almamy Taal’s assertion that the December 2018 congress was not about electing a flag bearer. Well Barrow heard you all loud and clear including the silent Darboe. So now is the time for Barrow to act and strategise and make a statement: “You are either with me or you are not.” President Barrow must risk it all now, because there will be no UDP for him.
And now, to all the UDP die hard supporters, please don’t be blinded by your majority in parliament. Barrow was the best you could have delivered when the need arose, not just because Darboe was in jail, but because there would not have been a coalition in the first place if Darboe was around, something many other have already said. You may be disappointed in Barrow for reasons not made public, but I don’t think it is just about seeing Darboe become president. Time will tell as the crack are already showing within the UDP walls.
So do we still have a coalition? Well, Halifa rejected a role in the Barrows government, he may be right, he may be wrong or that was not his target or, to his credit, he may be too principled. OJ Jallow was clear that he would not go beyond the 3 years period, and Barrow made him achieve that objective sooner. Hamat Bah was honest enough to admit that if he was the president, there would have been more tension, and of course he stood less chance. Mai Ahmad Fatty, Dr Touray and Henry Gomez can be classified as leaders without a constituency but with the resolve to see Jammeh go at all cost. We still have some elements of PPP and NCP in cabinet posts. So by the look of things there is still a coalition.
Mai Ahmad Fatty the GMC leader, that Jammeh would have eliminated with the slightest opportunity, was seen by many as Barrow’s right hand man until he got booted out. Whether rumours of Mai Fatty coming back are true or not plus the president’s back door meeting with several key stakeholders from around the country are all indicative of his inclusive policies which is a tactical move. One may have to wonder then if someone else was responsible for the president’s decision to fire some of the key coalition members and kill the coalition. Could that be an influential UDP member’s idea? Or was it that they were too busy fighting each other? So the right question to ask is: Is UDP out (Darboe out) to kill the coalition, and not the other way around as Almamy Tall would want us to believe. Your guess is as good as mine.
Understandably Darboe may feel dis-empowered as vice president in a government which by all indications was made possible in part as a result of the party he founded. But he must also understand that we don’t always end up living in the house we built that is just an expectation, albeit a reasonable one.
Barrow may be a one term president, but don’t bank on that, because the advantage of the incumbency is massive and Darboe needs to be warned. UDP must be warned that it’s not all good for their party with Darboe as flag bearer for 2021. And Barrow cannot be seen to be betraying anyone rather it is the other way around. And here I would like to remind Darboe when he was quoted in an online interview back in 2011 when he was being interviewed about why the opposition alliance failed, something he was blamed for: “It is unconstitutional to prevent anyone from contesting elections and from supporting a candidate, but UDP agreed to the proposal that a presidential candidate who wins under a UDP-led alliance would become neutral after a five year transition despite the fact that transitions are for countries emerging from a state of conflict or military overthrow.” So Darboe has already sanctioned Barrow’s release clause, Barrow will become neutral after his five year term, and you bet he will run for a second term.
But how do we realistically resolve this mess? It is obvious that Darboe will be elected UDP Secretary General and party leader at the December 2018 congress. Darboe can use that occasion to publicly endorse Barrow as the UDP flag bearer. But that as admitted by the party deputy leader will not happen. But just in case Darboe does, Barrow in return can confirm his intention to accept the UDP offer as its 2021 flag bearer, without risking his current term as a coalition president.
So in conclusion and to answer Almamy Taal’s question, why did the coalition ask Barrow to resign from the UDP? Basically to get us to where we are now: because they anticipated Darboe hijacking presidential powers in the name of a party and becoming the de facto president. And because they do not trust Darboe they trusted Barrow. And so did the remnant members of the UDP when they elected Barrow as their party flag bearer for the 2016 coalition candidacy, while Darboe was languishing in jail.
Barrow unfortunately started his presidency by listening to the UDP too much. This has weakened him because he has put too much effort into trying to please the UDP by accommodating their many behind the scenes demands. UDP diverted his attention from nation building to party building. So for two year what we had was politics, politics, and politics. Enough is enough. But finally, following the UDP congress in Brikama, there was clear manifestation of deep rooted division within the UDP. They told their own story to the public. They hatched a coup against barrow, and they succeeded with a scratch on barrow’s back not his resolve. Barrow has now discovered that the enemy is within, or maybe he knew this and was just being a naive diplomat.
With or without UDP Barrow must forge ahead. So even if Barrow is going to be a onetime president, it will not be without a fight, and I bet he stands a better chance. So to reiterate, the coalition is not dead but dormant because of Darboe. Darboe must come out of the closet now and make everyone understand what his plans are. Darboe must make a decision because as the saying goes, “You cannot have your cake and eat it”. Will Darboe publicly endorse Barrow as the UDP flag bearer for 2021? Only then will he and his surrogates be assured a future in the Barrow government, else must he resign or be fired in due course. And only then will we have a functional government. But Barrow must act now, and focus on national building and let UDP be. Because he can only be weakened by the UDP, because Darboe must be the Mansa (King) he always believe he was destined to become one day, and nothing will change that. Not especially with an obstacle (Barrow) who in his eyes was nothing but his creation. I rest my case.
Written By Dalasi Mansa
Editors note: The views expressed by the author are entirely that of his. His views do not represent the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention.