Gambian opposition have a strong history of disunity but leader of the country’s second biggest opposition party says that turbulent past is now behind them.
The leader of the National Reconciliation Party has told torchongambia newspaper that opposition unity ahead of the 2016 presidential elections is a collective destiny that can’t be avoided.
Hamat Bah said there is no single opposition political party in the country with finance and human resources required to effectively take on the incumbent in December which, he added, makes an alliance inevitable.
“There are factors that are putting opposition together that transcend all other barriers…There are over 1400 polling stations around the country and no party has the human and financial resources to pay the polling agents to man these posts,” he said.
“This is on the spot counting and these people who are to represent the parties are to be trained… The minimum any party will spend including campaigns and registration of candidates and other cost is millions.”
Failures to form a coalition is as a part of the story of Gambian opposition as is their cries for electoral reforms which won’t be possible until the 2015 Electoral Amendment Act is amended
The 2015 electoral amendment includes a section which clearly states that there can be no electoral reform 6 months to the elections which is now only 4 months away.
One of the major reasons that have contributed to the previous failures of opposition coalitions are leadership selections and though Hamat won’t comment on whether he favours a party or individual-led coalition, he said he is “ready to make a sacrifice to get Jammeh out.”
Meanwhile, this site has learned that a couple of opposition youth leaders and executive members including Musa Sonko of NRP, Kebba Singhateh, Alagie Darboe of UDP and host of others from all political parties except PDOIS, have met at the NRP bureau yesterday to discuss opposition demands for electoral reform and coalition.
One of the opposition activists present at the meetings which are largely closed to the media told The Torch: “we are pursuing both reforms and coalition but with more emphasis on coalition”.
“We are at the stage of discussing the modalities of the alliance we are working on. However, we will have to take any coalition and leadership selection to the people at the grass roots… Boycott is not on the agenda,” another opposition member present at the meeting said.
One member of the Committee informed this paper that they are “comprised of people from all parties except the PDOIS” and “we don’t serve a party interest but the collective interest of opposition”.
Last week, Fatoumata Tambajang, an opposition activist who initiated a discussion between Gambian opposition leaders over the possibility of putting up a single candidate, told a United Democratic Party rally at Brikama that “all the parties have responded to her”.
Though the opposition inter-party committee on reforms and coalition is different from that of Tambajang’s in that it is an initiative by middle-rank opposition leaders themselves who claimed to have received the “backing of all party leaders except PDOIS”.
Last month, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, former Ghanaian electoral commission chairman, has led an ECOWAS pre-electoral assessment team to gauge the situation in Gambia, 6 months to the presidential elections.
The ECOWAS heads of states have made a recommendation in their final communiqué at their 49 ordinary summit in Dakar two months ago for the Commission to send a delegation to Gambia “immediately” ahead of the presidential elections to “assess the situation”.
“The Summit instructs the ECOWAS Commission to deploy as soon as possible, a pre-electoral technical mission to appraise the electoral process in The Gambia,” a part of the communiqué reads.