The leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress, Mamma Kandeh, has told journalists that he was the one who “formed and bankrolled” Gambia’s second largest opposition party, National Reconciliation Party, that until today was known to have been formed and led by Hamat Bah.
As December Presidential elections edges closer and the political environment heated, it appeared Hamat Bah of National Reconciliation Party and Mamma Kandeh of Gambia Democratic Party have two decades old debt to settle.
In a Standard newspaper exclusive, Mamma Kandeh, the leader of the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress, has claimed he has given Hamat D300, 000 in a lead up to the 1996 elections in which the leader of the National Reconciliation Party contested.
1996 was the first elections in Gambia after the military coup led by President Jammeh and Kandeh said Hamat should be the first person to embrace him and the GDC since they both shared similar objectives.
“In fact I formed and bankrolled the NRP and not Hamat,’’ Kandeh told The Standard.
He said it all began in 1996 when Hamat came to his father to seek his blessings and counsel on his ambition to run for Presidency.
’’But I always knew what he wanted was a chance for me to support him financially since I had just returned from Europe and might have some money. And that’s what exactly happened. Hamat had only D10,000 and I used D300,000 of my money and also put four vehicles for use by the NRP,’’ Kandeh said.
However, Hamat refuted Kandeh’s claims saying he has only donated D8000 to his campaign which he has even refunded after the elections.
“I personally didn’t take any money from Mamma and it was only when it was about for us to go for campaign that one Amat Faal approached Mamma for him to borrow us some cash because then the money I was expecting didn’t arrive in time,” Hamat said.
“When Mamma was approached he said he could loan us D8,000 but only if we could provide him a guarantee. Amat did that by using his property as a guarantee and collected the D8000 which we used for our campaign. But immediately after the election I collected my money and paid all my debts including Mamma’s D8000.”
On Kandeh’s claim that he had put four of his vehicles for use by the NRP in the 1996 elections, Bah said as the then campaign manager of the NRP , Mamma Kandeh volunteered to provide two vehicles and not four, for eleven days for free which he still appreciates and is thanking Mr Kandeh for.
Explaining further, the NRP leader said: “Mamma Kandeh was our campaign manager by then, because when we were forming our party there was a Fula organisation comprising prominent Gambians who were Fulas and wanted to form their own party. Then I went to meet them and asked them to join me to form the party together which they accepted.”
He said at the time then he had already prepared his documents to form the NRP and that after their agreement to form just one party at a meeting in Nema, one key member of that Fula organisation withdrew before the nominations.
On how he came to know Mamma Kandeh, the NRP leader said after registering the party he was informed by one of his colleagues that Mamma Kandeh’s father was a famous Musician and very influential person in the URR.
“That was the time we decided to visit Mamma’s father in the village and found Mamma Kandeh and his brother Abdoulie Kandeh,’’ he said.
Bah also advised Mamma to resist any temptation towards tribal politics saying tribalism cannot work in this country anymore because people are too mature to be manipulated along that line.
“My brother Mamma should also understand that running for office in this country in this era particularly with all these amendments is a monumental task that will be very tough for one individual to carry out,” he concluded.