Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: I watched, with trepidation, how many good people on and off social media, who are not members of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, Barrow Youth Movement, the Gambia Democratic Congress, People’s Democratic for Independence and Socialism and the United Democratic Party in the Diaspora Community, have become adversaries and combatants over the supposedly tenure elongation of President Adama Barrow. Many have also become Barrow Youth Movement and the United Democratic Party ‘Emergency Advisers or Political Strategist’. I keep wondering why members of the Gambia Diaspora community who are not card-carrying members of the above-mentioned political organizations should insert themselves in the intra-party search of other political organizations for its electoral campaign in the 2021 Presidential Election. Ooooo! Freedom of assembly, Freedom of speech? The right to hold opinions, and freely comment on the political developments in the Gambia Diaspora community? I get that. I sure do.
Fatoumatta: But shouldn’t independent civil society and watchdogs members wait for the political organizations to sort out itself, and present its candidate, so that our fellow needlessly agitated compatriots can canvass and support for a party or a candidate of their choice in the general elections, selecting from the array of political parties that may be on offer, based on the parties’ platforms, manifestoes and programmes? In the last UDP biennial congress, there were executive members, and few of them, dismissed for their ” buffoonery ” almost danced their way to the Barrow Youth Movement; and who knows, may yet have a redress at the Electoral Commission. As independent civil society members in the Gambia Diaspora community, you will have your time to elect the candidate of your choice as President come January 2021. Some aspirants in the UDP who could not secure the party’s nomination ticket in the Local Government Elections, decamped and contested on the platforms of other political parties. Although they did not win the elections, many people who believed in them voted for them.
Fatoumatta: Were our compatriots who have now turned themselves into political consultants and ” visiting ” advisers for the Barrow Youth Movement and the United Democratic Party consulted before the Diaspora community chose (selected or imposed) its Presidential candidate in the Diaspora in 2016 Election? Were they? Were they consulted when a royal threat was issued to cast into the Diaspora Lagoon recalcitrant residents, inspired by power intoxication from Banjul, who were accused of plotting not to vote for a preferred candidate? Were they?
Fatoumatta: Doesn’t a political party have a right to choose its candidates, including democratically disallowing an incumbent from having a second term, if it so wishes? Does the Presidential candidate of the UDP in Banjul, automatically become the Secretary General of the party? What of the other political parties? Shouldn’t they be given a consideration at all? If the Diaspora community and it’s precursors and it’s “Power Mafioso” are the demons that the voting public in the Diaspora needs to get rid of, why can’t the intruders concentrate on joining and building an alternative that can take over political power in the Diaspora, instead of laboring on lecturing the Diaspora and it’s ” gods” on how to run their affairs in order not to lose the electorate and the general election ?
If you are a genuine believer in a multi-party democracy, and you trust that the electorate has the will to alter its political destiny , why not invest your energy and social media time in that possibility instead of dissipating energy on prescribing the choice of candidate to a political party to which you do not belong and which you often mock ?
Fatoumatta: This is my advice for you. As a Gambian and part of the Diaspora Electorate, stop inserting yourself in the intra-party process of the other political organizations to select its flag bearer in 2021, if you are not a member of that particular political organization. Doing so means you don’t take your right to freely elect a government of your choice in the Diaspora community seriously. The Diaspora political Handshake is not a Presidential election. That election holds in January 2021. When the general election holds, you will have a number of candidates representing their parties and platforms to pick from the Diaspora will field a candidate in the election just like the other parties. As a civic duty, when the general election comes, you should compare and contrast the policies and programs and the manifestoes of the parties before settling for one candidate.
Fatoumatta: We are not practicing a parliamentary system of government. However, a few examples from the recent political history of and political leadership succession in the UK, which underscore the principle of party supremacy would suffice. The ” great ” Margaret Thatcher, after leading the Conservative Party as British Prime Minister for over a decade, was eased out of power by her Party and Colleagues, ahead of a general election. Thatcher suffered an unpopularity backlash after her government imposed the poll tax. That was how John Major became the Prime Minister in 1990. And Tony Blair didn’t end his last term. Following his resignation, his Labor Party found a successor in James Gordon Brown in June 2007. Both Thatcher and Blair were removed as prime minister by their respective parties.
Fatoumatta: A party has a right to pick a candidate of its choice for a general and election in its exclusive Presidential primary, without being dictated to by intermeddling outsiders and the interloping commentariat, and those outsiders have a right to vote for or against the candidate so chosen at a general election.
As a Diaspora voter who is not a member of any political organization and who , therefore, is not qualified to participate in the political Primary, your dictation of a candidate for the any political party implies, very much, that you are expressing or have expressed your preference for that particular candidate before the general election, thereby foreclosing the possibility of a better candidate being fielded by a rival party in the general election.
Fatoumatta: The power struggle within the Diaspora community is not an inter- party power struggle in which the ordinary people, the working class and the oppressed segments of the population may legitimately side with a pro-people party against a ruling party of power oligarchs and aristocrats ; it is not a class struggle. It is an intra-ruling class struggle. Head or tail, the current ” struggle ” within the Diaspora community will not affect the social, economic and political fortunes of the people of the Gambian Diaspora community fundamentally.
Fatoumatta: If democracy and the political party system in the Gambia were to be working as they should, no elected office holder should be free of the moderating control of his party and the electorate. If a political office holder breaks loose from his party, and he is no longer subject to its control, he becomes a monarch in a democracy. Our legislatures hardly control our National Assembly members or President, in spite of the Constitutional powers that assign to them that task. When parties, as loci of moderation of exercise of power by their elected members, lack the power to do so, a democratic tyrant emerges. Diaspora civil society has done many good things. Their double-standard deeds are also glaring. I hope their intra-party traducers concede this fact.