PDOIS’ Agenda 2016, Agenda Or Manifesto Part 1

Sam Sarr, Sidia Jatta & Halifa Sallah


By Mohammed Lamin Sillah

Last month, on Sunday 11th May 2014, the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) formally launched its Agenda 2016 project at the Upper River Region village of Wuli Barrow Kunda. PDOIS claim the meeting was well attended by villagers and people of surrounding villages.

Many suspect that the reporters of the event were themselves close or sympathetic to PDOIS and so might have hiked up the numbers. But I think that the attendance figures could have been right. Imagine living in a highly remote village where events hardly happen and what you will see, smell, hear and feel will most likely be as you did yesterday, last week and even last year. You are bored to death, but in come a small gang of visiting politicians who act strange, think strange and talk strange. That would be thrilling! Wouldn’t it? I would have been among the first to report to such a political rally and believe would joined me sooner or later. Because for the first the element of fear would not have come to play because PDOIS is an opposition party but not considered a threat by the powers that be. They are not UDP, so being in a gathering organized by them is not considered so dangerous.  So I think we should give the reporters benefit of the doubt. And this was the idle season, when all men do is go on chattering endlessly and leave the women with all needed to be done,  the boring monotony of the topics discussed in bantabas, themselves would send everyone running towards the meeting. So the Barrow Kunda meeting could have been well attended, but not perhaps for the reasons that Hon Halifa Sallah and Hon Sidia Jatta hoped for. The two comrades perhaps thought the people came because they are a sovereign people answering to the call of political leaders truly concerned about their sovereignty while the people came to have a glimpse at the latest show of non-conformist political oddity.

May be the “thousands” might have been a little on the high, but the meeting must have been well attended and the people who assembled at the village square listened carefully wondering whether there  might have been some hidden meanings underneath the highly audacious but rather officious pronouncements made by the main speaker, Hon. Halifa Sallah..

According to the former NAM for Sereunda Central, “Agenda 2016 a provisional manifesto.” But did not clarify why it was only a provisional party document. Is the document provisional because it has not yet been adopted by a congress of the party?  If so why take the trouble printing and launching a document that may soon be amended? Why?   I am baffled over if the document is an Agenda or a political manifesto. A political manifesto, as most of know, is a policy document, declaring a party’s ideological principles and outlining its policies and programs. An agenda on the other hand is a set of issues to be tabled for discussion or a set of urgent issues to be acted on. The former suggests a long-term perspective while the other suggests immediate urgency that deals with an extra-ordinary situation to be dealt with.

It is not the first time PDOIS is coming out with a document bearing the word agenda in its title. The one preceding this was AGENDA 2011, conjured up in the less threatening and difficult situation. That year was about five years after the NADD attempt at coalition building collapsed and the humbling defeat they suffered in the hands of Jammeh and APRC party which, many believe, was a form of voter punishment, Voters were tired of the Jammeh dictatorship but were passionately mad with the opposition leaders who could not agree on a single flag-bearer for the then coming presidential polls.  It left many voters feeling that these party leaders cared more about their personal interests than the fate of the country and its people.  But the opposition parties today, in 2014, are in a far worst.  While division among them was then bipolar today it is three-dimensional.  Today the parties are trapped in a quagmire caused by a self- imposed protest action that has put them on the road to prolonged inactivity, reduced visibility and the threat of extinction but that cannot be abandoned without losing face.  Perhaps Agenda 2016 is meant for managing that losing of face hence its unclear purpose, its ambiguity and its failure to address the most salient issues currently facing the Gambian political opposition. There was no attempt to shed light on whether PDOIS will end the current election boycott. No word on its latest bed-fellow, Hamat Bah and his NRP and also no word on its take on the prospects of opposition alliance in the coming 2016 presidential elections. About a year ago the two former allies clashed openly and challenged each other for an open debate. Open debates are a sign of health in the politics of any state but in the Gambia it rarely occurs and when it is done, it evokes hatred, rancor and at best, a fight not for the quality of ideas and policies, but a play to the gallery, over eloquence and knowledge.  One of the opposition politicians came out with the challenge, perhaps not expecting the other to accept it. To his surprise, the other accepted. Then he suggested that the venue be at the Independence Stadium, the country’s largest park. A whiff of megalomania or one of an exaggerated Image of one’s self, I don’t know. I wonder what made him think that the people who would turn out for such a meeting would fill the capacity of even an average size class room. Somehow the debate never came off the ground, now having faded away from popular memory, but the questions haggled over remain as dividing as ever.

Is this not an indication that Hon, Sallah and his comrades in PDOIS do at times have their heads up in the clouds and not feet on the ground. If you are in a thing twenty-four hours for decades, be it sports, religion or politics, you are bound to miss on the gist of other things and you are denied the chance of making reality checks as often as necessary.

In communication we have in our mind a targeted audience before we set off. Otherwise it would not work. The imagined target may be so massive and undefined that we are unable to formulate the message properly with sufficient focus. The more we know this imagined reader or audience the better we are able to formulate the message.

Many believe that the series of Agendas the PDOIS has been issuing are basically the same and serve similar political purposes. Many suspect that Agenda 2011 was designed to per-empt any diagnosis of the NADD debacle, to reemphasize PDOIS’ position that primaries must decide the flag bearer and that PDOIS gets for itself a role in the coalition building bigger than the number of votes it can get on the ballot.

But PDOIS’ stand on primaries for flag-bearer selection is astoundingly naive, if not downright ignorant. Never in the history of alliance-building politics anywhere have primaries been used for the selection of a flag bearer. The idea itself is not sensible. Primaries are inner party affairs not an Inter-party matter. It is people in the same party who hold primaries not all the members of parties in a coalition. The idea is itself silly. In such primaries it should logically follow that everyone will vote for the candidate of his or her party. It is a costly but useless exercise whose results would be known long before it takes place. Also it is a thoroughly impractical thinking, of bringing up to 5 000 delegates together in a single meeting place and having them vote on a presidential candidate. The cost involved in organizing such a gathering would be in the millions; huge loss to the funds needed for the election proper imminent; the police could simply refuse it permit; the NIA given license to go amok; delegates scared away and the exchange of blows likelier than exchange of ideas and opinions. The acrimony that will go with this transaction may force some of the parties withdrawing from the coalition altogether.  Any village chief who allows such a gathering in his village, or the district chief in his district would be sure to expect the fiercest wrath of state repression and charged with being among the organizers. The idea may look and sound democratic, mass-based and bottom-up, but it is certainly ludicrous and not practical.

But with heads perhaps high in the clouds the PDOIS triumvirate perhaps think those practical matters are for those with small minds. It was a similar mindset that led to the registration of NADD and resultant loss of National Assembly seats by the opposition block of parties in 2005. Good in abstract and logical thinking but poor in perceptivity!

Perhaps realizing the poor prospects of any convenient arrangement with Bah for election 2016 and with its difficult ties with the other parties PDOIS is preparing to go it alone under the Agenda 2016 flag, since it is improbable that anyone else would be bearing that flag. So accordingly, like any aspiring candidate, Agenda 2011 is stuffed with a political manifesto.

Agenda 2016 consists of one strategic objective, two goals and two tactics, though laid out in a rather disjointed manner. According to Halifa Sallah secretary-general of PDOIS, “The strategic objective of AGENDA 2016 is to build a Third Republic.” This, according to him, will take us to a new “era of the sovereignty of the people commencing in 2016.” He added that PDOIS is of the view that, “the highest political expression of the right to self-determination and Independence is the founding of a sovereign Republic on the basis of the consent of the people, which legitimizes their equality in citizenship and sovereignty.”

One of the two goals is to ‘put a definitive end to voter apathy by ensuring that upon completion of the exercise each Gambian would recognize that the voter’s card is an attestation of one’s sovereignty and equality in citizenship with all other Gambians, without which one is deprived of the power and voice to say how the country is governed.”

The second goal is “to put a definitive end to sectarian politics which relies on the perpetuation of prejudices or loyalties based on faith, gender, caste and ethno–linguistic origins and ensure that it is engrained in the consciousness of every Gambian that a Sovereign Republic is a community of sovereign citizens who enjoy equal rights and freedoms and are entitled to equal benefit from public services irrespective of place of birth, ethno-linguistic origin, religion, physical features, philosophy, gender and other demographic characteristics, in whom the sovereignty of the country resides, from whom the authority to manage the affairs of the community must be drawn and for whose liberty and prosperity.”

It is doubtful if voter apathy can be put to any definitive end if the opposition cannot put up a credible alternative to the Jammeh mis-leaderhip; If the opposition parties cannot manage to get around a common narrative and program; if the opposition leaders are perceived as self—seeking persons and if the confidence in the electoral system is low and dwindling.

It is even more doubtful if an end can be put to sectarian politics through education or legislation. It is progress, development and prosperity that pull people out of their ethnic shells to embrace the idea of a nation state and it is poverty, want and oppression that can put them back into it. It is political leaders who can help most in rolling back sectarian politics by introducing and replacing it with the politics of issues.

But apart from the strategic objective and two goals there is also a pair of tactics. The first tactic is to work for electoral reform so that the second round of voting is restored and upper age limits barring candidature are eradicated to enable interested parties to test their popularity and leave the electorate to decide the fate of political leaders.

The results of the Mayoral election in Banjul confirms that even if there is no electoral reform change would come if the people are resolved to support one candidate . Hence PDOIS proposes if no reform takes place up to the middle of 2015 opposition parties could meet to decide on how to select one candidate to contest the Presidential elections in 2016. This is an announcement that the PDOIS plans to drop its non-participation protest action in a beating-about-the–bush way. Face saving, isn’t it?

A political Observer’s Description Of Agenda 2016

The document outlines a series of steps for the party to pursue to achieve their electoral objectives in particular and more generally the broader reform agenda they share with some of their colleagues in the opposition. The timing and overall thrust of Agenda 2016 seem to reflect an attempt by PDOIS to  subordinate a previous binding agreement between it and five other political parties in the opposition to pursue meaningful and verifiable reform of the entire electoral process following years of fraud and abuse. The constituent members of the G6 as the informal alliance is called issued a 14 point demand stipulating specific changes and timelines as a condition for further participation in polls. The alliance justifiably refused to per take in both the parliamentary and municipal elections that followed the issuance of their collective demands after the government failed to address their concerns. Most Gambians support the G6 position of insisting on clean, free and fair elections and doing so in a strong and united voice to ensure success. Agenda 2016 regardless of how its proponents might spin it, would in both perception and reality seem to inject uncertainty and lack of focus on the broader reform agenda for which there is broad consensus across the spectrum of Gambian society. The majority of the electorate has clearly and consistently indicated they want their legitimate political leaders in the opposition to work together to help end their long national nightmare. They have implicitly rejected participation in fraudulent elections with more than half of eligible voters skipping poll. All political parties should pursue the only agenda that can restore proper participatory democracy and the 14 point demand of the G6 when pursued robustly an in unity will bring success. Conversely having individual members within G6 embarking on parallel partisan electoral strategies no matter how well intentioned will only rekindle the Gambian people’s fear of a divided opposition once again missing the forest for the tree

Because of the muddled up nature of the presentation it is not clear what the second tactic is. Could it be the actual publication of the manifesto, or the manifesto itself or the phrase ‘Electoral Reform Or Opposition Alliance.” But are these really tactics? My understanding of tactics is the plans and means by which goals are met. Here seems to be some lack of logical connectivity between strategic objective, goals and tactics. Combating sectarian politics is too diffused a goal and not easily measureable and it does not necessarily lead to the sovereign Republic that PDOIS says it is striving for, nor does combating voter apathy. Heads up in the clouds again?



  1. That’s your opinion and everything in this editorial ridiculous in my opinion; a futile exercise!

  2. Deyda Haidara

    Aaaah! noooo! Musa, this time you claim total independence….so you can have your sovereignty and eat it alone.
    Gen. DeGaulle

  3. Dida Halake

    Excellent piece Mr. Mohammed Sillah. Over 2 U, Bax!

  4. Dida Halake

    “Dawda: August 26, 2014 at 9:50 PM … a futile exercise!”

    I agree Dawda, it is “a futile exercise” because Comrade Halifa only talks to himself and listens to himself!! Otherwise it is an excellent piece in the deconstruction of Comrade Halifa’s Mumbo Jumbo! What says thou, Bax?

  5. Janjanbureh

    Thanks Sillah. Gambians want change not fruitless exercises. PDOIS is never the solution and will never be the solution to the predicament. Let them keep on writing these endless manifestos but most people don’t care.

  6. Lafia Touray la Manju

    This so-called Agenda 2016 is a signal to all that PDOIS will go solo in the 2016 presidential election. They are not interested in unity; they are only putting forward something they can rely on as justification for what they are going to do in 2016.

  7. A great piece Mr Sillah. Excellent reviewing of a hard to comprehend agenda/manifesto.

  8. Anna Bass, Florida

    Muhammed, I have not enjoyed an article written on the on-line media like this one for a long time. The language is magnificent, simple but well argued. You made me understand the idealism of PDOIS, and Halifa in particular quiet well. I am of the younger generation, and it seems, Halifa and his other colleagues need to go out more, enjoy the glorious Gambian sunshine. They are thinking in manners that are unfit for a modern democratic dispensation. Thank you Muhammed again.

  9. Nbi Barrow

    Very unfair and bias editorial analysis and malacing comments that follows.I wonder how sincere some of you guys are to the Gambian Nation and her people.PDOIS has always been sincere in their quest to serve the Gambian people.The leaders are sincere and humble and if Gambians don´t want them to serve them,then i don´t know which types of immorals do we want to lead the Gambia.Lets wake up and be real to ourselves Gambians.Lets stop being an enemy to ourselves.Its difficult to understand why people are out to tarnish the image of PDOIS. Is it out of fear for the truth or jealousy.

    • janjanbureh

      Serve who Mr. Barrow? Hell no. PDOIS has been serving Halipha Sallah, Seedia Jatta and Sam Sarr. These guys never think of freeing the Gambia from bad governance of Yaya Jammeh. Action speaks louder than words. You said people writing about PDOIS out of fear or jealousy. Please my brother check your self at the nearing mental institution because you need it. PDOIS and these guys are last things in most Gambians mind to worry about even Yaya don’t give a damn about them. They are not a threat to him at all.

  10. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Nbi Barrow, are u in your mind? If PDOIS is sincere why then is Sidia and Halifa deliberately misrepresent UDP position on issues?

    In 2011, Sidia had a close door meeting with Darboe and kemeseng jammeh. Sidia later took to the media and misrepresented Darboe forcing the latter to come out and clarify.

    Now the same sidia is on the radio insisting that UDP position is for the leaders to pick one among themselves to lead a coalition when in fact in the 2011 coalition conference, a Lawyer Darboe led coalition was proposed and the UDP rejected this saying that it has to be a UDP led allaince as the matter is not about Lawyer Darboe. Darboe only became a candidate as a result of an election in the party congress.

    You are a gullible Wuli fool who have been hoodwinked by sidia. He is not honest neither is Halifa. If you don’t know this, you are probably not smart enough.


    • Lafia get to hell and your silly UDP illogical sentiments. Your hatred towards PDOIS and in particular Halifa is known to all who are familiar with your postings on the social media. Is not an offence in the Gambian laws and is justifiable to prefer the Jammeh rule to that of the UDP and besides Muhammed Lamin Sillah’s take-on the Agenda 2016 is a figment of his own imagination punctuated by sheer jealousy and disdain hatred against people who are back home doing what they feel is best for them and their nation, whilst he sit on his laurels far-away writing rubbish that he dares not back home.

  11. Lafia Touray la Manju

    According to Tuku Jallow on Facebook, Halifa was even telling people he rather have jammeh continue as president than to have Darboe as president.

    I have no reason to doubt Tuku because I understand she is a strong UDP Yai Compin and close to both Darboe and OJ. I think she was saying something that her party leaders would find inappropriate to say in public.

  12. What say Bax..!!!! Laughing “me old” head off…That’s what I’m doing right now…Because the so called “political observer” ( I assume they are impartial) demonstrated that he was no such thing, by revealing his true and bias intentions from the word go,thus producing this well written but hollow “analyses”, if it could even be called as such…

    But if you are a PDOIS basher, then.this piece answers your “prayers”, doesn’t it..?

    However,no serious minded person should look at this piece and praise it as a good analyses of any sort, let alone political, because it’s not based on any facts (political or not) but the mere content of the writer’s prejudiced mind…

    It may be acceptable for apologists of one party to make “point scoring” remarks (not based on facts) against their opponents, but a political analyst must rise above such pettiness and partisanship, if he/she is to be taken seriously…


  13. Alpha Robinson

    Mr Sillah, the only criticism I will deem over the top would have been if you label the ‘PDOIS’ guys ‘Champagne socialist’. In as much as Sam Sarr is from a comfortable land owning family, Sedia Jatta is also from a upper-class Wulli Family, and Halifa Sallah is a middle class socialist Serrekunda native…They are not over indulgent in any way, well not openly. In as much as they enjoy dribbling with words, statements, phrases, ideas and over the years mastered the art of assuming too much of themselves. All in all, they are not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne_socialist

  14. Alimatou Sarr

    NBI Barrow has no place in a civilised civil discourse. You’ve insulted every Gambian and should apologise. Do you want to imply that PDOIS people are the only custodians of morality to rule the Gambia? As aspiring leaders, they and their supporters must be tolerant to be criticised just like the way Mr. Sillah did. Look before you leap NBI. Better put it, think before you write.

  15. Ebou Njie

    I hope PDOIS guys are reading between the line. This is what we expect from sincere Gambians – express yourselves without fear or favour even if some peole will puke. I hate any democrat who does not practice what he or preaches. Praise singing is enough. Let’s hammer the nail on the head and live in peace instead of in pieces.

  16. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Alpha, I agree with you. The “Champagne Socialist” label is not appropiate because it is implying that they are drinkers of Alcohol, and that is not true. But yea. Apart from that, Sillah is spot on and probably mild on some of the points.


  17. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax, all the opposition parties have only one opponent and that is APRC. If you are trying to tell us that PDOIS has an opponent within the opposition, then that said it all; PDOIS is up to no good and is not interested in unity.

    • Nbi Barrow

      when did the Gambian oppositions agreed to undergo a merger against the ruling APRC? Are we not as of now competing against each other on our different party platforms???? I am not aware of any such common platform agreement amongst the opposition against the APRC.

      Your sincerity and committment to such a unity and that of the UDP, the party you purportly support is questionable.You guys have difficulty in sharing the same bed with PDOIS,and you are deliberately and malaciously puting all the blame on PDOIS.

      PDOIS is a party with principle.No Homty Domty sitting on the fence.Its time to Wake up Gambia and prepare ourselves for the third Republic with dedication, seriousness and sincerity.

  18. Continued…Let’s look at a few things…

    (1)…As a “critical analyst”, Mr Sillah disputes PDOIS’ claim that the meeting was well attended, but he is ready to concede that it was well attended.. ( of course, knowing that there may be people on this blog who could testify to that fact, as well as pictures of the event, which he claimed were hyped).

    But then he gives the reasons why this meeting was well attended, as follows..(brief summary)..

    (a) Boredom.. (Villages are bored)…(b) men are lazy…(idle season)….(c) absence of fear… (PDOIS not considered a threat)….(d) curiosity. (at this non conformist political oddity)..

    In either of the above reasons, Mr Sillah has failed to indicate how he ascertained these facts that warranted their inclusion in this analysis…

    Would the same reasons apply, bar (c), if this was a UDP meeting..?

    If PDOIS is not harassed by APRC because they are not perceived as a threat, how does the analyst account for the arrest of GMC supporters, including Mr Fatty’s relatives, for activities of a political nature…?

    The truth is that the APRC avoids PDOIS for the same reasons that the PPP avoided them…My feelings from experience are that, unlike other parties, PDOIS will.not be messed about without serious consequences…

    Continued. ..

    • Deyda Haidara

      Bax said…unlike other parties…without serious consequences. Oh maybe they have what other opposition parties dont have..Farroya?
      Question does baabeeeli the sovereign mansa care about the constitution?

  19. It is simply a myth that the APRC clashes with the UDP because it is the only one seen as a threat…Truth be told, the APRC “sees” threats in every corner of the political landscape, even independents, who don’t belong to any organised parties are harassed and obstructed…

    The PDOIS Leadership was pelted with stones in Foni by some over zealous APRC Youths, but like the Fula man in Welligara (Kombo North) who brandished a cutlass and vowed to stop PDOIS from holding a meeting at the Bantaba in the 1980’s,they were brought back to their senses with the approach adopted and the “power” of the message and personalities of the leaders..

    Any keen observer can see that the reasons for the frequent clashes between the APRC and UDP is quite obvious…I hesitate to say this but I have a feeling that I will be censored if I give the reasons..But it’s as clear as day light…And it’s not due to being perceived as the threat…Everyone who opposes Jammeh (real/imagined) is viewed as a.threat…


  20. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax, all the attendance issue, the fact that the rally was conducted in a PDOIS strong where Sidia won a seat three times means that the report should not have been questioned as it is most likely true. However your point about Mai Fatty does not make sense as Mai fatty was already having issues eithe regime even before he entered politics. Also, he is in alali ace with the UDP and that puts him in the same calculus as any UDP official.

    Again, you haven’t got the spirit. You are always going on about UDP as an opponent of PDOIS rather than a potential ally. That to me is worrying, and if this attitude of yours represents PDOIS, then again it is confirming that Halifa and Sidia are not interested in unity and that PDOIS is up to no good.


  21. Come on now, Lafia. ..Don’t be naive….In a multi – party democracy, every party or candidate is an opponent to the other because they compete/contest for the same thing, with only one possible winner…

    Of course, under certain circumstances and realities, they may collaborate in one form or the other, but they still remain opponents…

    Anyway, let me finish with this “analysis” first..

  22. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax, on the attendance issue, the fact that the rally was conducted in a PDOIS strong where Sidia won a seat three times means that the report should not have been questioned as it is most likely true. However your point about Mai Fatty does not make sense as Mai fatty was already having issues with the regime even before he entered politics.

    Also, Mai is in allaince with the UDP and that puts him in the same calculus as any UDP official as far as political persecution is concern.

    On the unity issue, you simply haven’t got the spirit. You are always going on about UDP as if it is an opponent of PDOIS rather than a potential ally. That to me is worrying, and if this attitude of yours represents PDOIS, then again it is confirming the widely held view that Halifa and Sidia are not interested in unity and that PDOIS is up to no good.


  23. Lafia Touray la Manju

    PDOIS will not be messed about without consequence?? What did they do when Halifa was thrown into a mosquito infested cell?? Don’t tell me about the international outcry because that is customary. I remember in 2000, the American British Ambassadors had to drive down to Basse when Lawyer Darboe of the UDP was detained there.

    Bax needs to stop talking bullshit.

  24. Dida Halake

    Bax says: “…My feelings from experience are that, unlike other parties, PDOIS will.not be messed about without serious consequences…”

    Bro, you are cracking me up!! By “consequences” do you mean Jammeh is petrified of a thousand stupefying essays coming his way from the pen of Comrade Sallah???

  25. janjanbureh

    After doing the same thing for over 25 years and you get the same results then you need to smell the coffee. The reality is that most Gambians who want to see the Gambia free from the agony it find itself in will not waste their time with PDOIS ideas and programs. This is not bashing the party but just saying what it is. They are interested in talking and writing manifestos and never interested in finding or being part of any solutions to our immediate problems. People are sick and tired of do nothing parties. PDOIS behaviors are like a cult and they indoctrinate young venerable Gambians to believe that they are the only solution to the Gambian problems. The party has 21/2 leaders and only 2 peoples names are mentioned all the time and the rest do not better. My best advice to the young venerable folks is that don’t be fooled by all these talking and writings because they are doing it to make money and control the minds of the youths. How long do we need to fooled by these people and they think that they are the most educated and enlightened Gambians. Not accepting the fact that many Gambians are now more educated and informed than them. If there is no party in the Gambia order than PDOIS then I will go without any party or form my own party.

  26. Quotes….. (1)…”But PDOIS’ stand on primaries for flag-bearer selection is astoundingly naive, if not downright ignorant…..

    Never in the history of alliance-building politics anywhere have primaries been used for the selection of a flag bearer…..”

    Comment…I read an accusation somewhere that Gambian Intellectuals are lazy…What could lend more support to that accusation than the above claim..? If Mr.Sillah had a done.a bit of goggle search, before making such a claim, he would have been saved from this embarrassing statement. .

    As recently as 2012, a “little known fellow” named Henrique Capriles, won inter party primaries in Venezuela to become that country’s opposition flag bearer against late Hugo Chavez…

    Quote (2)…”In such primaries it should logically follow that everyone will vote for the candidate of his or her party….”

    Comment…That is a very reasonable assumption to make, but what about the undecided:those who belong to no parties.?

    What about members of the ruling party, who are Gambians and.may prefer a particular opposition candidate.?

    Quote (3)….It is a costly but useless exercise whose results would be known long before it takes place..”

    Comment…Firstly,I cannot believe that a genuine and sincere political analyst would dismiss as costly and useless,any democratic process which gives the electorate the power to choose who represents them…Any butut spent on.such an exercise is well spent…

    Secondly, I hope that Mr Sillah is not implying, in the 2nd part of his statement, that the UDP candidate would win any primaries…If he does, then he would have committed a fatal error, as a political analyst, for the following reasons..:

    (1)…The UDP may have polled the highest number of votes among the opposition parties, in every election, but it does not command the kind of numbers that would guarantee outright victory if an APRC candidate is taken out of the equation….

    Equally, there are many tactical voters in The Gambia…In other words, some may vote for APRC because they don’t want to see a UDP win, and vice viser, but don’t necessarily support either candidate. ..

    How about those that don’t bother to vote at all..? So you can’t assume that a UDP victory is a fore gone conclusion in any primary, especially a nation wide one…

    But even if we agree that the results would be long known, is that reason enough to dismiss the exercise as useless. ? Who ever doubted that the PPP would sweep the polls at every election before the first ballot was even cast in the first Republic..? Would you seriously dismiss everyone of those elections as useless..?

    Indeed, who wins an election is very important, but equally important is the recognition of the people’s power to decide who represents them and that’s what a primary would do for the collective Gambian opposition….The broader the scope of participation, the greater the claim to the people’s mandate to oppose…

    As can be clearly seen, every bit of this piece is problematic from the point of view of impartial analysis but as a PDOIS basher, it is great even if it is not based on facts. ..

    Blame my in-law ( Dida ) for provoking a PDOIS “Talibe”…

    “Waaleng Jam”….”Al suuto diya”….Good Night…

  27. Nbi Barrow

    Alpha Robinson,if it is really you,then i am disappointed.Even though you have retired,you don´t allow yourself to sink this low.You have a lot more to offer to our Nation state with or without the PDOIS.Respect Brother and be constructive and focus.I hope you are okay in Asia.Stay cool.

  28. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax, venuzuela is the only place in this world where this kind of primary happened it confirmed all that UDP was saying; it created more division in the opposition ranks in venuzuela than there was. Some refused to accept the result and never joined the winning candidate in the contest against chevez. There supporters too did not vote for the opposition and this allowed Chavez to win the votes easily and with a big margin.

    When Chavez died, the opposition abandoned the primary principle and adopted the type of allaince UDP had advocated. They got much closer to winning with this formula with the margin been just few hundred votes. So the venuzuela example is a good reason for all to reject PDOIS proposal. In any case, venuzuela is not a ideal country where one can take democratic aspiration from. It is an ultra socialist state. Probably that makes all good for PDOIS.

    Nbi Barrow, you know the problem about living in Wuli is that you don’t know anything until everybody knows it and there is a residue of knowledge left. You are a Wuli Tolaywoo. Nobody is calling for a merger but a coalition of parties.


  29. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Guys, bax has confirm that PDOIS sees all the opposition parties as opponents rather than partners. To me that says all.

    I thought we are all only against jammeh but it turns out PDOIS is against us all too.

  30. Lafia…

    (1)…at least you agree that the “analyst” was wrong to claim that ” Never in history……”

    (2)…You must differentiate between activities of a political nature and those of a human rights one…Unless I am wrong, I believe Halifa was arrested in relation to a human rights related activity…

    I believe that if the PDOIS is obstructed from exercising it’s legitimate political rights,like youth wing activities which don’t require Police permits, we will see a reaction…Just my believe…I could be wrong…20 yrs of repression and old age could change a lot…

    (3)…My views don’t represent PDOIS…You know very well that I have made it clear that I neither speak for the party, nor even a.member…So don’t play that game please..

    Jammeh may be the “common.enemy” now,because he sits on the seat that all aspire for,but all parties are opponents to each other…That’s a fact…Don’t read anything else into that. …

    (4)…Whether it was against Chavez or Maduro, the opposition still lost the election…You can’t therefore blame the mode of selection for the defeat, in one instance, and then absolve it in the other one. ..It is obvious that other factors came into play here too…

    (5)…We can’t take democratic aspiration from Venezuela..? You don’t know what you are talking about mate, though I agree that it’s not the ideal state…I don’t think any is…You would always find a “but”, even in the “best” run countries..

    No disrespect to our nation, but if we have 50% of the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people/nation, The Gambia would.not be where we are today…

    When Chavez, the elected president,was deposed by a US inspired coup, the people rose up and drove the Generals out of office…How Sir Dawda and some of your colleagues in the UDP ( being former PPP top brass), would have wished that their supporters had the Venezuelan aspirations for democracy…

    Even today, dissatisfied youths are fighting running street battles with the police in Caracas and other cities to make their voices heard by the authorities….We could do with a bit of that “steel iron” spirit to put some sense in Jammeh’s “thick” skull, if for nothing else…

    An ultra – socialist state..? I don’t know what that means but if it means, amongst many things, increasing the number of pensioners from about half a million to more than two million in a decade, then I will take that as opposed to what we have in The Gambia..

    How do you describe us in The Gambia..? Definitely not democratic or ultra-socialist….Please help…

  31. My in-law…

    That’s not what I meant…Jammeh will.not be petrified by any number of essays, even if they are not “stupefying”…Only the sound of fire crackers or low flying choppers (anything that resembles a gun) will petrify Jammeh…

    But when The Gambia’s political evolution is narrated and taught to our great grand children, the children of our great grand children and to the children of our great, great grand children and their children, grand children and great grand children,the “thousands of stupefying” essays would have been a good resource material.when PDOIS’ role is narrated and taught…

    At least, in that, is a.measure of good (from.comrades Halifa and Sidia) for the future generations to make use of…As a seasoned journalist and educator, won’t you agree..?

  32. Mamurr aka Fana Fana

    I hate to admit but Dida Halake is spot on with his exchanges in maafanta on Halifa, and PDOIS. I think people like me were forced to open our eyes and see PDOIS differently. My conclusion is, they are no different is the adamancy that President Jammeh manifest, and insist on, I came to the conclusion that, PDOIS will die a natural political death after the Halifa, Sedia and Sam departs, there way or the high way notion is a fatalistic concept all progressive political players have long since discarded. http://www.maafanta.com/didahalakehaliphastaskforfjm

  33. Nbi Barrow

    Touray Manding mori(Manju).You seem to enjoy using fowl language and call people names.That is not helping much to convince people like myself.You can call me names,but with time we will know who ressembles this names you dishing out to people like myself, trying to put our fews through.Yes Brother,all the different parties are eachothers opponent,if you have difficulty understanding that,then i am sorry for you.All the political parties are different and are all contesting for the same responsibility to serve our Nation.Forming coalition is a political tactiic to gain strength.The UDP can as well go into coalition with APRC.It will not surprise me at all.What was your political leaning in the first republic??? Or are you just a beginner with the arrival of Yaya Jammeh at the whelm of state business? What motivate you to support UDP so dearly? I want to know these answers before i can continue the engagement in this debate,otherwise i am done.

    All Gambian political parties are opponents until otherwise agreed upon.PDOIS is not created to oppose only the incumbent,but to restore soverignty and independence of the Gambian people.Gambia must be a free Nation with free and independent minded people who cannot be cheated or corrupted.

  34. SB Sankareh

    It do my head in whenever I hear this PDOIS one line statement all the bloody time, What sovereign nonsense are they on about? Which Gambian is not a sovereign citizen? So back off and leave us alone with this out date statement. Sovereign citizen, sovereign, this, sovereign that, hell, people are bored to death of it. Cut it out men!!!

  35. Old boy MK

    Mr Muhammed Sillah, you wouldn’t remember me, but i use to follow your keen political activism in many groups in Banjul. You are still true to your honesty and personal commitment to factual and open discussion. I remember your days in MOJA, PDOIS, and as Amnesty Gambia head in the early days.
    It will be political ‘virgins’ who will doubt and question your keen knowledge of the Gambia’s political landscape.
    It has not just been intellectual and articulate brothers like you who deserted PDOIS and saw right through them, but I can provide a list that is full of incredible talented Gambians who abandon the party ‘due to not practising what they preach’. Anyhow, you highlighted the core issues wrong with the document, and that is what it is a raw document.
    Halifa Sallah is fond of taking Gambians for granted. He is too consumed in his abilities to realise that, students even in the unchallenging University of the Gambia, can challenge him with many of his own ideas and win. The sad spectacle is that, the man is never going to change. Gambians need to look for other ways in dislodging President Jammeh, the opposition are not up to it, let alone PDOIS, who are not even opposition, but an entity just existing. I see a young ex-service man fell madly in love with them, a guy call Kejau. Truly a soldier with political ignorance, a political virgin more to say.

  36. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Mbi, I call a spade a spade. You can consider it whatever.

    Bax, so the right to conduct one’s political activities is not a human rights issue? You are wholly and totally incoherent with your arguments. By the way, thanks for acknowledging my objectivity and balance posting in this matter. I am not for cheap point scoring but the truth.


  37. Dida Halake

    “Bax … My in-law…Jammeh will.not be petrified by any number of essays …Only the sound of fire crackers or low flying choppers (anything that resembles a gun) will petrify Jammeh…”.

    Halake: I rest my case in-law!!!!!!

    “Bax: Halifa and Sidia (essays) for the future generations to make use of…As a seasoned journalist and educator, won’t you agree..?” …

    Halake: ABSOLUTELY Bax! Excellent stuff for the UTG Library!!

    “Mamurr aka Fana Fana … I hate to admit but Dida Halake is spot on with his exchanges in maafanta on Halifa”

    Halake: Hate it or Love it, as long as you take the medicine I am happy!

    “Old boy MK … Mr Muhammed Sillah, you wouldn’t remember me, but i use to follow your keen political activism in many groups in Banjul. You are still true to your honesty and personal commitment to factual and open discussion. I remember your days in MOJA, PDOIS, and as Amnesty Gambia head in the early days”

    Halake: Mr. Sillah, I did not know the history – but I saw the touch of class in the essay at once..

    Finally, a bit for a laugh (LOL!):

    “Nbi Barrow … Touray Manding mori(Manju).You seem to enjoy using fowl language …”

    Halake: I agree Nbi, Lafia QUACKS a lot!!

  38. Lafia….

    Don’t start your.old.games again, twisting what people say to suit you….Where did I say that the right to conduct one’s political activities is not a human right. .?

    Acknowledge your objectivity and balanced posting..???? Sorry to let you down but I never did…Not intentionally. ..You are incapable of objectivity where PDOIS is mentioned…That’s as plain as day light..

    Btw, where did you get the idea that the opposition in Venezuela adopted the UDP formula of alliance after Chavez…. ? It’s the same “little known” Caprilles, who was the flag bearer against Chavez that contested against Maduro.. He was still the chosen opposition candidate…

    You guys need to do a.bit of searching before you post…

  39. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Aaaah! I now understand why Mbi Wuli Toolay Barrow is enraged by this article. The author was actually a PDOIS member and he deserted the party because he fundamentally disagrees with Halifa and his personal grip on PDOIS apparatus.


  40. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax, you said Halifa’s arrest concerns a human rights issue and that I should separate that from a political arrest. I am now tell you that political arrests are also human rights issue.

    I have no history with you. So I don’t know what you talking about

  41. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Capriles was not a little known figure. It was a governor of a state and is part of the largest political block in venuzuela. There is no such as the biggest opposition party in venuzuela. As such, they form political blocks in parliament.


  42. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Bax needs to back off. He does not know his facts and is talking bullshit.

  43. Quote….” There is no such as the biggest opposition party in venuzuela….”

    Comment. ..How then could they have adopted the UDP formula, which is based on their claim of being the biggest party..?

    Or have you forgotten what you said. . ? That after Chavez, they adopted the “UDP formula”, which you claimed,almost worked….. Contradicting yourself again…

    Venezuela has a somewhat two party block system but each block is comprised of several parties…Caprilles, though a governor at the time.of the opposition primaries, belonged to the Justice Party, which was not the biggest opposition party…

    So your formula isn’t compatible with this scenario. …

    With regards to Halifa’s arrest, you can understand it any how you wish. …What I said was very clear…That his arrest was not connected to any obstruction of PDOIS’ political activities. …If it was, and is persistent like against the UDP, I’m sure Gambians will see a reaction. …

    You have no “history” with me..? Is this the first time.we “crossed” path.? I’m sure many can attest to the fact that you and I have “clashed” before…

  44. Abdoulie darboe

    BAX, you said and I quote “my feelings from experience are that, unlike other parties, PDOIS will not be messed about without serious consequences.” In 2001 elections campaign in Foni,I forget the name of the village but this was in the news headlines, Halifa has been asSaulted, the PDOIS meetings was stopped and they were compelled, harassed and threatened to get out of not only that village but the whole of Foni. And the village is less than 1500 people. PDOIS has lost it, I do not know why but they have to sit and think again. APRC do not care about PDOIS because they cannot challenge them.And for UDP if not the security forces anywhere they meet APRC is always defeated.I have seen it in Farafeni,i have witnessed that clashed in Soma and in Talingding. So stop talking cock and bull, what consequence.

  45. NOTE 1. QUOTE; “Last month, on Sunday 11th May 2014, the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) formally launched its Agenda 2016 project at the Upper River Region village of Wuli Barrow Kunda. ” ………………But I have never seen this article by Muhammed Sillah published or read it until featured as “in Editorial — by Musa Saidykhan — August 26, 2014.So why kept it for for over 3 months and recycle it to divert attention on burning issue of “The Standard Newspaper – reporting that UDP SAYS DARBOE WILL BE CANDIDATE IN 2016 DESPITE…celebrating his 66th birthday……caricatured in Facebook as Five times unlucky????And Sulayman Jeng of Kibaaro endeavored to clarify the situation with editorial, revealing as QUOTED that ” “When the leader of the people, lawyer Ousainou Darboe, rose to speak a sombre atmosphere descended on the festive UDP militants, executive and supporters. In a soothing tone, he began “My standing for election is not a decision in my hands.” He paused to let his message sink before continuing “The party decides who to stand or not. I never chose myself as a leader of the party; you chose me. Therefore, no one should give up just yet. It is just a law that imposes age limit and such law is not sharia. A few men sat and made it. Consequently, it can be challenged and amended. I will advise you to remain true to the struggle and I must reiterate only you can redeem this country. We hate no one even though we detest the ways of our opponents. Even this alleged rumour of disunity among the opposition parties; we are not part of that. UDP remains unshaken and strong. If anyone doubts that, ask our rivals. They know better. That is precisely whenever we have a wrestling contest, they draw out swords instead of loin cloth”.

    However, it remains gloomy how the UDP is going to side step the constitution provision imposing an age on its leader. Will the UDP incite a constitutional debate in the house to repeal the provision? Or…”


    NOTE 2. What is reviewing substance of a document policy covering agenda, programme, strategies & tactics have to do with all the biased, confusing, incoherent, ridiculous malicious statements; and the need to struggle writing too much trying to discredit its launching with false assumptions on PDOIS and attendance? What is this statement has to do with PDOIS AGENDA 2016 that “They are not UDP, so being in a gathering organized by them is not considered so dangerous.”? Among other stupid remarks like; “The two comrades perhaps thought the people came because they are a sovereign people answering to the call of political leaders truly concerned about their sovereignty while the people came to have a glimpse at the latest show of non-conformist political oddity.”

    NOTE3. QUOTE; “According to the former NAM for Serrekunda Central, “Agenda 2016 a provisional manifesto.” But did not clarify why it was only a provisional party document. Is the document provisional because it has not yet been adopted by a congress of the party? If so why take the trouble printing and launching a document that may soon be amended? Why? I am baffled over if the document is an Agenda or a political manifesto. A political manifesto, as most of know, is a policy document, declaring a party’s ideological principles and outlining its policies and programs. An agenda on the other hand is a set of issues to be tabled for discussion or a set of urgent issues to be acted on. The former suggests a long-term perspective while the other suggests immediate urgency that deals with an extra-ordinary situation to be dealt with.” MR. SILLAH DID NOT TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER HIS DEFINITIONS PROPERLY TO UNDERSTAND OR APPRECIATE THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG PRESENTING “AGENDA 2016 A PROVISIONAL MANIFESTO”; INTERIM. ALL TO IMPRESS AND DECEIVE US FOR CHEAP POINT SCORING!

    Will continue the other observations later.

  46. Abdoulie Darboe….

    Let me help you a little bit….There is no “cock and bull” (story) because I haven’t even narrated a story…

    All I did was to state what my “FEELINGS” are….Do you get it…? Just my feelings…

    If you got any problem understanding that,
    here’s a simplified version…

    I feel very strongly that if the PDOIS is persistently and constantly subjected to what obviously seems to be officially sanctioned harassment, obstructions,intimidations, threats (list is endless) as the UDP is, we will see a reaction…That’s my feeling…Hope you got it this time round…

    The Foni incident you mentioned, did not involve 1500 villagers, or even a particular village, but rather, a bunch of over zealous (APRC) Youths, who may be better described as thugs shrouded in a political cloak, looking for a fight…PDOIS, unlike some parties, maturely refused to “swallow” the bait…

    It was a spontaneous act of thuggery,which did not seem to be officially sanctioned, and in any case, an isolated incident rather than one of a series of never ending incidents…

    So the actions of the PDOIS Leadership to address the incident, which culminated in a press conference, was sufficient to deal with that incident…

    But there are far more important issues being discussed here than the feelings of “old” Bax…

    Please do not loose any sleep over my FEELINGS. ..

  47. Abdoulie darboe


  48. Abdoulie darboe

    Bax thats nonsense,that’s not true. What reaction can PDOIS do.The UDP leader’s body has never been touch on his campaign, and in 2001 Halifa has been touch. An attempt to touch Darboe in Basse every Gambia heard what happened,you guys just talk cheap.A party as old as twenty eight years cannot be more than six percents. You guys are talking bull and cock story.I told you a small village in foni denied pdois their right to have a rally.PDOIS in jawara time yes,they can stand in front of the presidential convoy,yes because there was humanity in those days but now is different. Give us a break.

  49. Abdoulie darboe


  50. Abdoulie Darboe. …

    I can see where your problem lies..And I will not waste my time arguing with you about who can batter and smash the others’ heads most…If that’s your only understanding of the meaning of the word “reaction”,then engaging you is utterly pointless…

    Have a nice weekend..

  51. Janko Camara

    I have said this before and I will say it again:

    The fact that the Gambia’s current electoral system is designed to recognize the “first past the post” only, this provides enough reason for parties to come together to contest the polls as a united front. What I am saying is that within the current systemic weakness, political parties could still rally around the bigger party and contest the polls to dislodge the incumbent. The basis for such a coalition could be a strong MOU subscribed to and signed by all the parties defining the character and responsibility of the government that wins on the back of such a coalition. With such a government, the first five or so years could be used to correct the country’s battered Constitution; overhaul the entire political and electoral process; initiate democratic reforms; restore our basic rights as a people; etc. At the end of the 5 years, that government would have to resign and an interim government set up (for 3 months) just to conduct new general elections in which a leveled playing field will be created for all parties to partake.

    If history and past performance are things to go by, a party (like the UDP) that has a far general acceptance from the electorate (based on their performance in previous polls) is likely to succeed in any coalition against the incumbent than any lesser known party(ies). A few elites (with some fair level of intellectual sophistication) can better relate to PDOIS and we wished they could be given the opportunity to rule The Gambia, but the average Gambian voter does not have that level of sophistication and information to make decisions (through their votes) based on issues. Instead they are mainly concerned with such things that do not appears as fundamentals of life; e.g. “Mr. X does not interact with people; he does not attend people’s ceremonies; etc. therefore, he does not deserve our votes”. Whilst this may be true about Mr. X, they have little bearing on his ability to direct the affairs of the country. So this sordid reality must be understood and dealt with in a pragmatic manner rather than brushing it aside. Remember, within the time-span allowed for electoral campaign by the regime in Banjul, there is no amount of voter education that can change this voter mentality in the short run. So let us take practical measures to match short term challenges emanating from the environment.

    It is important to note that there comes a time in our lives when we have to stop the denial and accept reality. Horse-trading is a normal thing in politics. The UDP may not be as intellectual as other parties, they may not have the best political programmes like others would want the rest to believe, but they have the masses which is a key strength. Afterall, in Banjul the Rule of the Thumb is “First Past the Post” which cannot be achieved without numbers. This fact cannot be discounted. Given the above therefore, why don’t we be more pragmatic and join the biggest opposition party on terms considered fair to all the stakeholders to dislodge the incumbent, reorganise the political, judicial and overall governance arena to midwife the birth of a proper democracy in our beloved Gambia. Brushing aside reality for political theories that have never been tested, in my opinion, is a denial of the reality. Let us accept the Gambian reality and move on.

  52. Janko, if we go by what you have just illustrated we will only ne perpetuating the same political structures and cultures that have obtained in the first republic, and now in the second republic. We will needlessly defeat the whole objective of starting anew, and will just inherit and consolidate what has already been there in the first and second republics. It can be an easy fix to just rid of your political problem now, but it is not an answer to the long term solution of solving our political problems and realities.

    • Janko Camara

      Kamalo, your point is well noted. Then what, in your own opinion, would you consider the best way out of our current predicament? It is not enough to debunk my points, but to be constructive, you need to come up with a better alternative so that together, we will be positively contributing to providing workable solutions to the Gambian problem. So I humbly wait to hear from you. We should be solution-provider oriented. That is what Gambia needs and now.

  53. Janko, I totally concur with your contention that opposition political parties should come together and form a UNITED FRONT to contest the presidential elections due to the “first past the post” rule. Under our present political climate and circumstances this is the only thing that makes sense. Even if the effort falls short to defeat the status quo, it would undoubtedly create a leverage that would give the opposition political parties momentum and a better place to exert an influence over the whole election process.

    Where we tend to differ is the nature of such a United Front. You support a party-led coalition of the opposition political parties. I support a coalition of the opposition political parties with an independent presidential candidate. The reason for my ambivalence in supporting a party-led coalition of the opposition political parties, is rooted in my desire to see an end to the culture of self perpetuating rule. Once we elect another of our political parties to power under the existing political structures and culture, I am the least convinced that we can have a political situation different from what obtains in the first republic and now the second republic. And the reason is simple.

    The political structures we have and the political culture we have cultivated over the years makes it possible for any of our dominant political parties and its leadership to entrench and consolidate itself in power. It has happened with the P.P.P and it has ruled the country for more than 30 years, in the process weakening all other political parties and co-opting its leadership, to the point where the country was a defacto one party state despite the presence of opposition political parties that contested elections every five years. It is the same thing with the present ruling party and government.

    When we elect a president under a party-led coalition we are electing that party to power, and we are also electing its candidate as an executive president who is directly elected by, and only answerable to the people. It is only the people who can remove that president from power and its government. If not for the coup the P.P.P would have been ruling the Gambia still now, even if the same person is not the president.

    This is the reason why our desire to avoid what has happened in the past should be a deliberate and conscious political process.

    In the absence of a United Front by the opposition political parties, I will share my opinion on what the opposition political parties can still do.

    • Janko Camara

      Dear Kamalo, thank you for dilating on your earlier posting.

      At least, there is a convergence of thoughts here i.e The Gambia’s current political structure needs a total overhauling. Where we differ is the methodology/approach to take in ushering in a new dispensation that ensures the entrenchment of a “proper Democracy”. Let us examine the two approaches with a view to narrowing down to the more feasible one under the current circumstances.

      Your idea of “a coalition of the opposition political parties with an independent presidential candidate” is indeed a great one. It is the actual implementation such an idea that will probably nail the coffin.

      1) One of the relevance of History is the provision of lessons from the past which could be studied for present and future guidance. Therefore, if history and/or past events are anything to go by, the idea of “selecting” or “electing” a presidential candidate outside of the existing Opposition parties will almost certainly lead to disintegration even before the parties come together. We need to learn from the 2006 Opposition fiasco.

      2) Again, if my understanding of the word “Independent”, in the context it is used, is correct, it implies presenting a political novice, an absolute political Green-horn who will not only be new to the electorate but also prone to manipulations by the veterans of the game. Can we afford such a gamble in 2016? Can we afford presenting an entirely new candidate to the electorate for voting into office as President within a campaign period of not more than 3 weeks? We need to understand the mentality of the average Gambian voter. Theorising political formulae that do not have the final voter as the centre of focus, in my opinion, tantamounts to political suicide. Moreover, with the ideological divergence of the key players, a novice would just get lost in the maze of opposing ideas emanating from the various divergent camps.

      3) In reality, which of the political parties will be willing to sacrifice their positions and/or ideologies for the general good? For instance, will PDOIS be willing to accept ideas emanating from other Opposition parties if such ideas are diametrically opposed to their fundamental political philosophy? Or will UDP, with their strength within the Opposition, be willing to relinquish leadership to a political novice selected from outside existing Opposition party structures?

      The reality on the ground is, any alliance and/or coalition against the ruling APRC, without the UDP support is bound to fail. This is a fact. It is not magic but simple logic. At the same time, you would agree with me that PDOIS has great ideas even if some of these have never been tested in The Gambia. We need to be honest to each other and stop the vilification of one party or the other. I do not belong to any of the parties mentioned above as my profession/career allows me little time to get involved in party politics. However, I have known and observed Ousainou Darboe and the PDOIS trio for almost two decades now and what struck me about them is their honesty and consistency. Discounting basic human deficiencies, these are people who have largely lived by example. In many instances, they have practiced what they preached and for me, this is key. Despite these fine qualities, however, none of the parties, on their own, have been able to do much in the past presidential elections. So what has gone (or is going) wrong?

      It is precisely due to the above reasons that I propose a UDP-led coalition. The sort of coalition where members will clearly define the character and responsibility of the ensuing government. In my previous postings, I have explained what, in my opinion, should be the focus of that government. Winning elections are as important as political correctness. So combining the two gives the Opposition a far greater chance to wrestle power from the incumbent.

  54. Alpha Robinson

    Dear readers,

    I found a shocking comment sent to this form on 27th August 2014, by coincidence, as I was searching the internet. I want to make it absolutely clear that this was sent by someone hiding behind my name. Can the person sending comments in my name please use his/her real name. I consider it very disrespectful, indecent, and dishonest to send comment and views that do not belong to me using my name.

    Users of this forum, please disregard any comments sent in my name. I am no longer interested in politics and I certainly have better things to do than slander other people. I want to make it very clear that my respect for Halifa, Sedia and Sam remains undiminished. I will never write such negative and disrespectful comments about them.

    Could I please ask the administrator of this site to pass on any details they have about this person to me, so I can pursue this with him/her. If anyone wants to contact me or verify anything sent in my name in any forum, my contact details are:

    Alpha Robinson

  55. Janko, if we are really interested in giving the Gambia the break it so desperately needs, we have to rise above our political party aspirations to come to power and craft a coalition structure and blueprint, whose overall objective and goal is to pursue a transitional and rectification program. This is the only way we can give the country a new start.

    Arguments about an opposition political party having the majority of votes among other opposition political parties, or the exclusion of an opposition political party in any kind of coalition structure will fail, are all redundant because these are the same types of arguments we have for the last 20 years. We repeat them over and over again in every election cycle.

    The fact of the matter is none of the opposition political parties, either on their own accord or through a coalition with some other opposition political party or parties, can never win an election outright against the existing political structure. Not even to mention the political dynamics that exist within the opposition electorate.

    Therefore to be serious about any coalition effort, what is of utmost interest to the country should supersede the desire by any opposition political party to come to power.

    Since none of the opposition political parties are willing to forgo this desire to come to power, then someone with an independent predisposition to accommodate the interest of the nation and all other political parties should be elected or selected, as the presidential candidate for the opposition political parties. Such a person would not necessarily come outside the existing opposition political parties. It could be one among them.

    With the whole opposition political infrastructure behind this independent candidate, a campaign against the status quo will begin in earnest and it will virtually be a national referendum.

    It can be done because other opposition political parties have come together and submit themselves to a process in which an independent candidate has been elected. This enterprise should be extended to all opposition political parties.

    Once this independent candidate is elected to power the rectification programs will begin immediately.

    For the first 100 days, a constitutional review commission will be set up and provisions to have two terms to the presidency and the second round of voting should be amended into the constitution. All other rectification programs should not take more than two years.

    The opposition presidential candidate should agree to one term in office; should not support any other political party and at the end of this term an election would be open to all political parties. Whichever party wins can then form a government.

  56. Janko Camara

    Kamalo, may I re-iterate that I consider your ideas very brilliant and I agree with you as far as the end result is concerned. However, I truly and sincerely think they are normative and thus difficult to achieve considering the Gambian reality. Nevertheless, as we move closer to 2016, Allah willing, it will be clearer to all whether our Opposition politicians are able to rise above the challenge we are throwing at them. With that, I rest my case.

  57. Janko, our opposition politicians may not rise to the challenge. We may consider that there is a Gambian reality, but there is also another reality that the Gambian opposition political parties have been trying to come to power since 1996.

    I don’t think it will hurt any of them to put aside their desires and aspirations to come to power in 2016, support a united independent presidential candidate who will oversee a transitional and rectification government for five years, as well as create a level playing field in which they can all contest to win and form a government. This is a win-win situation for all of them.

    However, if they insist on their partisan leanings and risked losing the 2016 elections again to the incumbent, they will have to wait even longer to ever come to power.

    To play the devil’s advocate this is what I think will happen. If the incumbent president wins the 2016 elections he will not finish out the rest of his term in office. There will be intense pressure and campaign for him not to run for another term in office and to reintroduce term limits and the second round of voting.

    In the early part of his presidency after 2016, he will set up a constitutional review commission and have the two term limits to the presidency and the second round of voting reinstated into the constitution. He will then pick a successor to replace him and resign the office before his term expires.

    He will then use all the power at his arsenal and the predominantly ruling party to ensure that his successor is elected into office. Well, I guess we know what that means.

    Take the devil’s advocate part as wishful thinking. I also rest my case.

  58. This is a wonderful debate. It is however unfortunate that some people decide for the Gambian people. How do we know what the Gambian people want? Have we conduct any survey to find out or do we just sit at home and simply decide for them as to what they want?
    The debate is fruitful especially the last bit of it. The Independent candidate was chosen at a time when the 11 days campaign was already commenced. It took almost 4 -5 days before we set off to tour the country. He had only 5 days in the provinces before end of campaign. He came out with 73,000 votes 11% plus of the total votes cast. Imagine if the right candidate is chosen at the right time with sufficient resources at his disposal, and he was able to campaign for one year non stop. Imagine what would be the outcome. Agenda 2016 wants us to achieve the above tactic. This time we dont want to be late. This is why it is launched and pursued.

  59. Suwaibou, thanks to PDOIS for taking the lead on this initiative with Agenda 2016. The document cannot be any more clearer in what it has outlined as the most pragmatic approach to take under our present political circumstances.

    Let all the opposition political parties choose their presidential candidates this year. Let all these presidential candidates meet sometime next year and “select or elect” one among them to be the presidential candidate for all the opposition political parties. The “selected or elected” person will run as an independent candidate with the backing of all the opposition political parties.

    In my opinion this is a very realistic and feasible plan.

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