Gambians speak on opposition united front
|L-R: Omar Jallow, PPP; Henry Gomez, GDPD; Hamat Bah, NRP; Halifa Sllah, PDOIS, Ousainou Darboe, UDP; and Mai Fatty, GMC|
Five opposition parties in The Gambia on October 29, 2011 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a “united front” ahead of the November 24 presidential elections.
The parties: Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), Gambia People Democratic Party (GPDP), National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), National Reconciliation Party (NRP), and People Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), and a Human Rights lawyer, Mr Assan Martin, formed what has been seen as the country’s second opposition to challenge the incumbent, President Yahya Jammeh following the formation of NADD in 2006. The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the NRP formed a two-party alliance during the presidential race in 2006, but the former has since decided to break ranks with the new unity pact.
The October MOU for a united front followed months of talks by all opposition parties, with speculations rife since the talks were held clandestinely, media reports uncovered disagreements among the parties. The UDP and the former ruling party, the People Progressive Party (PPP) break-away because they are not in support of an inter-party convention to elect a united front presidential candidate.
Barely three-weeks to the November 24 poll, The Voice newspaper Political Desk went out and about to gauge the views of Gambians on the opposition standpoint. Read on…
“We welcome the united front aimed at voting President Yahya Jammeh out of office. However, it’s about time, Gambians will be happy if the oppositions achieve this goal. We are tired and we can’t wait to see President Jammeh ruling this country for another five years,” said Mr Lamin K. Darboe, a businessman at the Serrekunda market.
Mrs. Ndey Haddy Njie, a Teacher said this is the time that Gambia opposition parties have to unite, work together and vote president Jammeh out. “17 years is enough for him to step-down.”
But for Mr. Lamin Drammeh, a resident of Serrekunda, he holds a different view. He accuses opposition leaders of being self-centered. It is very shameful to see a small country like The Gambia, whose opposition parties can not be united. “Who is big and who is small. Our concern is to vote President Yahya Jammeh out, big or small come together and vote him out.”
“I was in the government, but I was an opposition to the government I was serving. There is no politician in this county,” said Mr Bakary Bai Conteh, a former civil servant. “The opposition leaders are all selfish. They’ve failed against one man for three times and from my little observation come 24th November they will be defeated.”
Mr Conteh added: “To form a united front is a move in the right direction, but it is late. The oppositions need to challenge the government of the day on a daily basis. With their eyes and ears open, the government started campaigning since 2009, nobody spoke against it.” “In this eleventh hour, what will the united front do? I wish the united front all the best.”
Only to vote President Yahya Jammeh out, we are ready, but who will lead us? 17 years of hardship is enough for him to go, but how? When I heard that the opposition parties were meeting to form an alliance, I was happy. Only to hear later that the discussions have failed, laments Mr Lamin Jarju, a resident of Ibo Town.
For his part, Baboucarr Gaye, a student noted that the vision and mission of the United Front is as good as those of NADD. “I hope it will not end up dead without an impact on this year’s presidential elections. Even if they fail to win, they should try to hold as much seats as possible in the National Assembly,” he said. “I think this can help alleviate the trials and tribulations that Gambians are engulfed in.”
- Source: The Voice