|L-R: Omar Jallow, PPP; Henry Gomez, GDPD; Hamat Bah, NRP; Halifa Sllah, PDOIS, Ousainou Darboe, UDP; and Mai Fatty, GMC|
Gambia opposition parties finally put an end to the many speculations as to what was going on behind the scene on the proposed united front against the incumbent, president Yahya Jammeh.
With media reports rife on "failed talks" ahead of the November 24 presidential poll in Gambia, the month-long negotiation, according to a press statement ended without the sought for unity. Read on....
14th October 2011
We, the undersigned, having met from the 3rd September to 14th October 2011 at the YMCA and People’s Centre respectively have mutually agreed to issue this press release as a true reflection and summation of the deliberation and outcome of a meeting convened in respond to an invitation by the UDP for opposition parties to meet and discuss the issue of Unity and the modalities of fostering it.
All the non ruling party allied opposition parties in the Gambia, namely, in alphabetical order, GMC, GPDP, NADD, NRP, PDOIS, PPP and UNP participated in the deliberation. Six long sessions were held characterized by frank, sincere and insightful debates that enabled each delegate to form and even reformulate opinions in the course of the deliberations. At no time of the discussion was the outcome predicable to anyone. Consultations continued until the 11th hour. All views were entertained and all intolerance muted. A climate of respect for freedom of expression and tolerance of divergent views was maintained. Decorum ruled the relation of the representatives.
The outcome of the meeting of 3rd September to 14th October 2011 is that all opposition parties present supported the creation of a United Front. In terms of the modalities of creating the United Front, a motion was introduced for all parties to support the holding of a Convention to determine the selection of a presidential candidate. It was moved that proportional representation should be introduced relying on the results of the 1996, 2001 or 2006 elections; that the person who emerge second in the election serves as the running mate. Other contestants and several nominees of each party shall serve as an interim shadow cabinet prior to the elections and mutually agreed reform agenda should be accepted as an election manifesto. Participants were requested to endorse the proposal to make UDP initiative a historical success.
The motion was seconded and supported by 5 parties, namely GMC, GPDP, NADD, NRP and PDOIS. Two parties were not in support of the motion, namely UDP and PPP.
In his closing remarks, Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the UDP, the convener of the talks, expressed his deep appreciation for the response given to the invitation of his party to the talks and the time, energy and wisdom displayed by all participants to enable us to conclude the talks in a climate of tolerance, respect and sincerity. He said that even though the proposal his party made for a UDP led Alliance is not accepted he is of the view that it could achieve the objective stated in the motion for a Convention. He said that it is his wish that the same amicable comportment which characterised the meeting would continue after the conclusion of the talks. He said his party accepts the outcome in good faith and the historians would record it as an effort by his party to bring the opposition together even if it did not turn out as they wanted.
The other delegates indicated that history has been made in participating in a meeting where every delegate had the freedom to express his or her views. They acknowledged that everyone was humbled as true servants of the people should behave. All views were listened to and each was free to make and revoke decisions. The deliberations were truly participatory and democratic. They commended the UDP for talking the initiative and wished that all emerged from the talks with one voice and one position. They expressed the need to maintain relation between those who support a convention and those who did not so that through further consultation unity may eventually be attained.
The chairperson of the talks Mr. Amadou Taal closed the talks by urging for further consultation to be made to close ranks before nomination.