By Karamba Touray
The largest constituency in The Gambia has always been the one opposed to the regime of Yahya Jammeh. This is not an opinion but a statement of fact as shown in the last measure of his standing with The Gambian people in the previous general election when more than half of the registered voters either voted for his opponents or stayed away from the polls entirely.
For an entrenched incumbent that has ruthlessly employed all the instruments of government to propagate itself, and suppress its legal opponents by allowing them to campaign for only 11 days while padding the voter rolls with illegal /foreign voters, failing to muster less than half of the registered electorate was a manifest rejection of the regime and everything it stands for.This is not a beloved regime but more of an albatross hanging on the collective neck of an entire nation.
However, the verified existence of a solid majority that is fundamentally opposed to the regime is insufficient to take down a tyrant willing to use any means to cling onto power if it is not coupled with a comprehensive strategy designed to harness and leverage the power of the majority to ensure a single outcome: regime change.What is also clear and borne by the last general election is that regime opponents are perturbed and demoralized by the pervasive and unreasonable conduct of some politicians that has doomed serious efforts at unity.Every effort in the last three election cycles to unify regime opponents on the ground has been scuttled for one reason or another even as it has always been abundantly clear to all involved that this job of saving our country and ourselves requires the combined efforts all acting together .
Today we stand at a cross road with a widely despised regime its North Korea style propaganda notwithstanding on the one hand, a seething majority of the population with a variety of concerns and a collection of opposition politicians who at most times are selfless and inspiring but have seen their collective work and sacrifice hindered by tactical errors and the recalcitrance of a few among them who value validation of their warped sense of duty more than the consequences of the costly and misguided steps they take. Advancing reasons for failing to unite no matter how fervently held is not a substitute for good and far sighted leadership. Gambians are not necessarily condemned to endure a vile regime when a vast majority have manifestly demonstrated their disapproval provided regime opponents are properly galvanized to deliver the knockout punch. To reach out to and deliver the majority of the Gambian people to save our nation, I propose the following:
1-All the political parties, individuals and third party entities that fully supported the reform agenda outlined in the G6 memorandum which formed the basis for sitting out two election cycles should embark on a comprehensive campaign in the length and breadth of the country .The purpose would be to present it as the only acceptable way and route to elections in 2016 and failure to adhere to all its stipulations in a verifiable and timely manner would tantamount to nullifying the 2016 Presidential election.This would give the population a legitimate battle cry around which to build a mass movement because the choice would be for the first time to either have a clean election or none at all and both outcomes would have the same result of regime change because a reviled tyrant who insists on hanging on to power against the wishes of a galvanized majority will find himself on the loosing side.
2-The same message delivered by the political parties and their allies in the broader democratic constituency should also be formally presented to all accredited diplomats in the Gambia in writing and through organised briefings. This would notify our friends and partners of the intentions of the democratic forces and the stakes involved.
3-The same message should also be formally delivered by a delegation to ECOWAS, AU, EU, UN and the US and UK governments.
Once the agenda is clearly articulated and communicated to The Gambian people and the broader international community,the priority and emphasis would become maintaining the mobilization of the broad constituency by employing traditional retail politics tools augmented by other methods to enhance effectiveness and preparedness.If the regime decides to ignore the legitimate demands contained in the G6 memorandum, the Gambian people will conclude that the government has willfully decided to abrogate the constitution by refusing to subject itself to a free and fair election at the expiry of it’s mandate . The government at that point would be illegitimate and the mobilized population will then exercise their national duty to end impunity and restore democracy
4-With the established politicians in the lead and the unified message fully and clearly articulated to all constituencies, the parameters of the ground game for regime change would have been set. It will be the duty of every Gambian in the diaspora who supports the change agenda to contribute to its full and timely funding.I am confident by the will of Allah, every resource needed to see the strategy through will be made available.
On the other hand, if the forces of democracy fail to mobilize this seemingly deliverable constituency, the tyrant would resort to his true and tried methods of running a fraudulent election, shine tv cameras on one or two misguided pseudo opponents prancing around for the briefest of campaign periods and declare himself winner despite his clear lack of support from the majority of the Gambian people.The accumulated grievances, fear and persistent humiliation of our people has to be appropriately channeled to an effective mass movement vehicle to bring regime change. Consequently the country cannot afford vacillating politicians who put ideology over common sense and seem to be oblivious to the existential threats we face as a nation .The only thing we demand of our politicians is to act affirmatively to harness and deliver the totality of their natural constituency by submitting themselves to the will of the people.They have the opportunity to lead the nation out of the clutches of murderous tyrant and forestall a further decent into the abyss.