Halifa Sallah, the secretary general of the opposition PDOIS party, has expressed his party’s absolute readiness to join a united opposition coalition to challenge the ruling APRC at the polls.
Gambians head to the polls in December next year and Sallah said failure to secure a united opposition alliance if there is no electoral reforms that ensures second round of voting must be avoided.
“The key thing is how change could be effected which is both a question of strategy and tactics… We are saying in 2016 we must avoid failure… People should not wait until the last minute to decide who is going to be the leader,” he said.
“Time does not necessarily determine whether you will have clout in politics, it depends on the wave that the people are ready to build around a party or a person. So we are saying that since politics is about wave, every party should go to the grass roots and start explaining their programmes and policies to the people as well as select any candidate they may have. This includes the independent candidates if they are the people who will help us achieve the change that we want because every Gambian has the right to be voted. So that if there is no second round of voting—because we don’t have that for the moment though we had it before, we could select the right candidate that has proven to be the most sellable before the elections.”
Sallah made these revelations on the Civic Engagement Hour radio programme on West Coast 2 last Saturday where he made a lengthy discussion of his party’s 2016 electoral agenda launched in June, 2015.
The Gambian opposition parties have had several failed attempts in the past to form a coalition in challenging the ruling APRC at polls owing to disputes over the leadership.
They have adopted the strategy of having one umbrella party, NADD, in 2006 but it did not work, their strategy of a united front in 2011 where their diverse supporters were supposed to select one person through a primary did not work either.
Sallah’s party has not selected a presidential candidate for 2016 but he said he is ready and confident to face Jammeh at polls in 2016 if he is chosen by party supporters at their coming primary.
“I am not selected yet to be the presidential candidate for the PDOIS but if I am selected at the party’s primary, I have the confident that I can give a message to the Gambian people that may make me a sellable candidate,” he said.
“But what is important for now is that all Gambians should galvanise around a sellable candidate.”
Further talking on his party’s agenda, the PDOIS secretary general accused the ruling APRC of graduating the country from a least developed country to a poor and indebted country in the world.
Sallah accused both the PPP and APRC regime of neglecting the productive base of the economy which, he argued, should be the source of the creation of the sovereign national wealth of the country.
He said for The Gambia to realise its economic objective, there has to be renewed investment in agriculture and that the sector should be linked to small scale manufacturing.
The socialist chief recommended the use of what he called “corporative banking” and “public enterprises” to generate funding for development instead of “complete reliance on grants, loans and taxation”.
Meanwhile, the Gambian opposition have had a joint electoral law reform proposals that they sent to all stakeholders including the Independent Electoral Commission in July of this year which, they argued, has carried dust.
Major points in their electoral law reform proposals were “second round of voting, re-demarcation of electoral constitutuencies” and “two term in office” which, they observed, will “ensure the integrity of polls in the country”.
The IEC did sent a controversial bill to the National Assembly which enacted the electoral law and increased the presidential candidate registration fee to half a million dalasi, among other things, after which the institution was accused of tactically instituting one-party state in the country.