Saturday, November 5, 2011

Special Coverage: Gambia opposition parties sign MOU for United Front

Human rights lawyer announces candidature, Halifa Sallah ‘not contesting’ this time
L-R: Omar Jallow, PPP; Henry Gomez, GDPD; Hamat Bah, NRP; Halifa Sllah, PDOIS, Ousainou Darboe, UDP; and Mai Fatty, GMC
The opposition parties in The Gambia Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a united front ahead of the November 24 presidential elections.
Gambia People Democratic Party (GPDP), National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), and National Reconciliation Party (NRP), People Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), and an Independent Candidate, Human Rights lawyer, Assan Martin all met in the Gambian capital Banjul to append their signatures on the memorandum on October 29, 2011.

Human Rights lawyer, Mr Assan Martin, who has been critical of President Jammeh’s Administration policies and programmes, was at the signing ceremony and he pronounces his intention to run against him as an independent candidate. Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the PDOIS and 2006 NADD presidential candidate, Mr Halifa Sallah has also announce he will neither be running-mate nor presidential candidate this time.  

With a large group of parties’ militants across the country in attendance, the United Democratic Party (UDP), apparently the biggest opposition party and the People Progressive Party (PPP) were conspicuously absent. The two had disagreed to a proposed inter-opposition party convention to choose a flag bearer to lead all apposition parties to the poll. 

Presenting the “Vision and Mission of the United Front”, Mr. Edi Jallow, the Chairperson, said they are compelled by times and circumstances to commit themselves to the type of change that will place the country right into the hands of Gambians after 41 years of republican existence. 
He said the concentration of power in the hands of the executive and the constant amendments of the constitution to erode the functioning of a genuine multiparty system, especially the second round of voting and its replacement with first past-the post system, makes the opposition parties disadvantaged by their share numbers.

“This make it prudent for the opposition to establish a grand alliance not to seek power for its sake or effect change for its sake but to empower the people to build a durable democracy that would enable them to condition leaders to respect and safeguard their liberties and focus on their needs and aspirations for the prosperity, freedom and happiness,” Mr Jallow said. “The United Front is design to usher in standards of best practice in governance and democracy, consolidate a common culture of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms so as to build an unshakeable democratic foundation which could foster genuine multi party contest, and thus enable the people to make their choice of parties by comparing their principles, policies, programmes and practices.” 
According to him, they (the united front) hold that public power is not secure in any individual’s hands unless it is subjected to scrutiny and control.
He added: “The united front is therefore designed to bring into force a transitional government that would foster greater national unity, transcending tribe, religion, gender, place of origin, birth, disability or any status and put in place a governance programme based on the core values of good governance and democracy, characterized by transparency and accountability.”
This, he said will include popular participation, respect of fundamental human rights and freedom, the upholding of the rule of law, respect for and tolerance of political diversity and the fullest commitment to conserve, enlarge, protect freedom of information and freedom of the media.

In 2006, an opposition alliance (NADD) registered as “one-party” failed to unseat president Yahya Jammeh, leader of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction party (APRC), after the UDP and the NRP backed out of NADD and form a two-party alliance which also equally fail to achieve its purpose of formation, that is, unseating Jammeh.  

  • Source: The Voice

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