Three Gambian political establishments cleared by the Independent Electoral Commission to contest country’s presidential elections slated for December 1 have started marketing their policies and programmes ahead of the November 16 when political campaign begins.
The Gambia Democratic Congress, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction and the coalition of all the traditional Gambian opposition parties have shared their unique selling points with The Torch.
“The reality is APRC is confronted with the same number of opposition who couldn’t get half of the votes cast in 2011,” Yankuba Colley, the APRC national mobiliser told The Torch.
“So it is no doubt that they are making the same noisy as 2011, but for us at party level we are working to improve on our last percentage and not thinking about whether we can win or not.”
Colley said the ruling party has kept its promises in all the four mandates Gambians gave them, adding that their records speak for them.
“I don’t think we need to tell Gambians what we have for them instead they should tell us what more they need from us in the next five years,” he said.
However, for Hamat Bah, one of the leading opposition politicians in the coalition and the leader of the National Reconciliation Party, it is the past of the APRC that is why they should be voted out.
In an interview with The Torch, Bah promised “President Jammeh will be voted out come December 1”.
“If you have seen the crowd after the coalition then you know that the people have rejected him…For 22 years, he put the country into a debt more than 108% of our GDP, over 40 billion dalasi. Multidimensional poverty in the country which is poverty in access to health care, education and other determinants is at over 57% of the population while income poverty is at 48%,” Bah said.
“People are hungry and agriculture has come down from employing 70% of the population to 31% while the service sector takes the lead. And all this is in addition to poor human rights records. So people will vote him out in December.”
Gambia’s 2016 election is a year that breaks new grounds at several levels.
This is the first time President Jammeh will be facing a coalition of 7 parties and an independent candidate since 1994.
It also happens to be the year when Gambia sees its first female presidential candidate.
Equally, it is also the first time the president faces a former ally Mamma Kandeh who he sacked from his party as a presidential candidate.
And like the coalition, the Gambia Democratic Congress’ Essa Jallow hasn’t seen the country’s future in the APRC leadership.
“For the GDC, the Jammeh government has consistently ignored the rule of law. The economy is in a terrible shape, the education sector is not producing the desired results, agriculture is on the decline making farmers poorer year after year and the health care services are poor,” Jallow who is the party’s press officer told The Torch.
“A GDC government will first embark on massive constitutional reform, introducing a two term limit, eradicating all the bad laws… A GDC government will restore confidence in the judiciary making it absolutely independent, and free from executive interference.”
Mayor Colley said December election is not going to be the toughest for the ruling party compared to previous elections as some people predicted, saying “there will be no election that will be tougher than the 1996 election.”