PDOIS: Primaries Not Feasible In choosing a Candidate in Gambia

PDOIS leaders meeting Prof Jammeh

By Max

PDOIS insistent on going to primaries is going to be interesting to watch. Given the small size and there poor recognizability in majority district in the country, I wonder who are the list of these candidates. I know three prominent members in the country, Sam Sarr, Seedia Jatta and Halifa Sallah. I am wondering if they are going to run against each other in each constituency.
I think the best process that can help PDOIS select their presidential candidate is through caucus.

This makes more sense for PDOIS to use than Primary. In caucus, members of PDOIS from each constituency will meet (convention, congress or gathering) and decide who is to lead the party by selecting delegates. This is more feasible, sensible and practical than idea of primary. In the USA where Primary is mostly practice, note that not all states are doing primary process, small states usually do caucus. Caucus is less time consuming, participants knows candidates better and less expensive. Please I would suggest PDOIS should think of caucus process so that delegates can be selected in each district before the convention. My suggestion is simply based on small size support based of PDOIS.

Difference between the two concepts

‘Q: What is the difference between a caucus and a primary?

A: In presidential campaigns, a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support and select delegates for nominating conventions. A primary is a statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates.


Caucuses were once the most common way of choosing presidential nominees. Today, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa are the only states to rely solely on the caucus, according to the Federal Election Commission. The territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands use the caucus also. All other states and Puerto Rico use primary elections or a combination of the voting formats.

Caucus meetings are arranged by either the state or political party to take place at a certain place and time. Caucuses are unique in that they allow participants to openly show support for candidates. Voting is often done by raising hands or breaking into groups according to the candidate participants support. The results of the caucus are used to determine the delegates present at county, state and national nominating conventions of each political party. Most often, only registered voters can participate in a caucus, and they are limited to the caucus of the party with which they are affiliated.

Primaries are a direct, statewide process of selecting candidates and delegates. Similar to the general election process, primary voters cast secret ballots for the candidates of their choosing. The results are used to determine the configuration of delegates at the national convention of each party. Primaries come in two basic forms: In an open primary, all registered voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of their political affiliation. Registered Democrats may vote for a Republican candidate, and Republican voters may cast ballots for a Democrat, for instance. And registered Independents can participate in either party’s primary. But in a closed primary, voters may vote only for candidates of the party with which they are registered.’

– D’Angelo Gore

Caucus vs. Primary


  1. Maxs…

    I don’t know whether you are writing as a political commentator or just as a usual contributor on these pages, but in either case, you have probably just committed an elementary mistake.: using your experience of the American system to pass judgement on PDOIS….

    Primaries are just mechanisms to.select candidates and how each is held will depend on those who wish to utilise it..The American format is not the ONE and ONLY “devine” format…

    The.most prudent thing would have been to wait until you have more details about what PDOIS intends to do, before you pass judgement..

    Just an observation…

  2. Lafia Touray la Manju

    Max, You need to understand that Bax does not have conventional education but PDOIs indoctrination. So just make your point and clarifications for the benefit of the readership. Bax is simply an insulate one. People are reading and understanding you well.


  3. Max and Lafia, pdois has put their plan in the public domain.

    What is yours or your party’s plan on unification or candidate selection? I think it is fair and just to offer alternatives when you think someone else’s is wrong.

    Bring yours forward as they did. And if you are not interested in unity or working with others, just go on on your own.

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      Gambia, I support UDP and Lawyer Ousainu Darboe. The truth of the matter is that UDP is the only party that actually called a meeting of all the opposition parties and presented a proposal to them. That is on record. It happened in 2011 and well reported by the media including the proposal they presented.

      You cannot force any party to adopt PDOIS strategy. UDP has it’s way of going about this coalition business and that needs to be respected.


      • Lafia,

        I might have missed that UDP proposal. Could you kindly remind me and refer me to the media link please.

        I want to know it.

        Looking forward to your response.

  4. I know Bax is a strong supporter of Pdois but he need to be open minded and learn beyond what Pdois has offered . We should look for what is feasible , sensible and practical . Politics is about persuading your opponents to change position. Dictators believe in only their own ideas and they want every one to believe in them .

  5. Thank you very much Lafia….I don’t think Maxs will agree with you on.your assessment of Bax….But who knows..? In this murky “world of a struggle”, anything is possible..

  6. Gambia, for your information I am independent Gambian who do not have any party affiliation . I made the above suggestion to Pdois because I think it is most feasible , sensible and practical to chose their candidate . This suggestion was made because they have indicated that they are going to have a primary to select their candidate . UDP and other parties haven’t indicate any primary process yet . I hope UDP leadership will answer your question .
    My desire as a Gambian is to see strong coalition or alliance for next election . I want all these parties to come together as one or unity to put up effective challenger to the dictator.

  7. Maxs, you have not answered my concern. There is no middle lane here in dis fight.

    What options are you suggesting for the basis of that unity u are asking for. PDOIS says internal primary to select their candidate and intra party primary of parties and interested individuals to be represented by their proportionate votes in the last elections to chose a single opposition candidate. What is more fairer than that.

    U claim to be independent and does not support any party. Yet you are always against the options of 1 party and stay mute about the silence of the others. I think what would have been ideal for you and your types to do is to prevail on the others to also come out with their plan so that Gambians can weigh and choose the best feasible and practical option. That would as well enable Gambians to hold parties and their leaders to account if they deviate from the rules.

    Sitting on the fence and blaming others for not bringing desired results in our collective responsibility is somehow not the best course of action right now.

    In your previous posts you said they should have mobilised ple to take to the streets but you have not mentioned if you would be taking part in those protests. In countries where there were protests, it was done by citizens like you who were dissatisfied with the system and took it upon themselves. They didn’t wait for calls by politicians.

    You claim to be in the USA. Why don’t you take part in the protests that are done when the president comes there. 98% of those calling for protests back home are busy running after their pay checks while blaming those who have everything to lose for not doing what they fail to do in the west.

    The question for every Gambian today should be “What am I doing to bring change and what am I doing or not doing that is keeping the man still there”

    This is our job, all of us, no outsider would do it for us. We either get up and do it or leave it and it would never be done.

  8. Gambia said ” u claim to be independent and does not support any party . Yet you are always against the options of 1 party and stay mute about the silence of the others “.
    First of all , it is my constitutional rights be independent in my thinking and political affaliation . This doesn’t mean I can not support , criticize or make suggestions to any political party . Secondly your claimed that I am always against the options of 1 party and stay mute about the silence of the others is completely false . I would criticize any party or leader if I see the need . In above article , I did make suggestion of what I think is feasible , sensible and practical for Pdois that doesn’t mean that Pdois will consider my opinion . This is what a responsible citizen would do . I want all the opposition parties to come together as was advocated by Cordeg so that they can sit down and talk about strategist to put effective coalition. Cordeg has been on the record to initiate that proposal and I think when that is done , opposition leaders can strategize ways about best format to achieve united front presidential candidate . I think those talks are ongoing unless you want to tell me that there is no talk at all . UDP , nrp and PPP has not put out their plans for this coming election . UDP has put out their proposal in 2011. Every political party has their own policies and it is Pdois policy to have internal primary and intra party primary . If others parties put out their plans , we will discuss that , criticize and make suggestion .

    Gambia ” sitting on the fence and blaming others for not bringing desired result in our collective responsiblity is somehow not the best course of action right now”

    Absolutely that is true but if you are fair minded you would recognize that I have not blame any one here . I am simply making a constructive criticism and a suggestions. Those who are sitting on the fence are ones who never participate in any meaningful activity to bring change in our country . I think I am not one of those people . You were able to respond to my article because i am contributing , and that is the smallest thing I am doing among other things
    Gambia” in your previous posts you said they should have mobilized people to take to the street but you have not mentioned if you would be taking part in those protest ”
    I am consistently on the record calling for massive demonstration and I would participate if I am in The Gambia or any where .

    Gambia ” you claim to be in the USA , why don’t you take part in the protest that are done when the president comes there . 98 percent of those calling for protest back home are busy running after their pay checks while blaming those who have everything to lose for not doing what they fail to do in the west ”

    Again , here you are making false assumption , accusation and allegation because you don’t know nothing about those 98 percent . These are decent Gambians who are doing everything possible to see to that there are regime change in The Gambia. 98 percent of these people are hardworking Gambians who are sacrificing for their families and Gambians . They engaged in all kind of activities to ensure that we have better gambia . Whether I took part in those protest or not , since you already made assumption that 98 percent of us are busy running after our paycheck , is irrelevant to answer your question. If you are open minded , I would have answer your question .

    Gambia said the question for every Gambian today should be , ” what am I doing to bring change and what am I doing or not doing that is keeping the man still there ”

    Gambia , now you are talking sense and I think that question is very important and it is the same question I always ask myself everyday . I think it is the same question you should be asking yourself before asking me all the questions you listed above . Does that make sense ?
    I have been playing my part since 1994 when the dictator came to The Gambia with lies , deception and hatred .

  9. @Maxs…”UDP has put out their proposal in 2011.. If others parties put out their plans , we will discuss that , criticize and make suggestion….”

    I know 2011 is a.long time but I can’t remember seeing this proposal or reading comments about it…

    Could you please refresh our minds, and if possible, with a link to this proposal document…

    Could you also remind us what your general view was on this UDP Proposal…It will be hard for you to remember the specific points you made about this UDP Proposal. (if you did make any) but you should remember your general position on it…

    Looking forward to hearing from you again..

  10. And whilst we are on.the subject of proposals, how about these from PDOIS…:

    Excerpts from PDOIS Manifest 2016…:

    “Civil Transformation…:

    “PDOIS aims to build a society centred on the protection of the liberty, dignity and self worth of the citizen by upholding fundamental rights and freedoms and ensuring that all state institutions, agencies and natural persons are committed to such an endeavour. In this regard; ”

    “(1)…Establish a National Human Rights Commission to monitor and ensure protection against violations of Human Rights; ”

    “(2)…Ensure that all conventions on fundamental rights and freedoms that are ratified by parliament shall automatically be domesticated by promulgating the relevant provision in the constitution; ”

    “(3)…Eradicate all laws and policy directives which hinder freedom of expression, and the dissemination of divergent views and dissenting opinions by the state and non state media.”

    “(4)…Enact a Freedom of Information Act to remove secrecy from public administration and make the administrators accountable to the public they serve and responsive to enquiries of the media which are supposed to keep the people informed.”

    “(5)…A National Council of Media Practitioners will be established as a self regulatory body for media practitioners, which will have no judicial powers but will exercise persuasive influence aimed at promoting professionalism and integrity in the performance of duty and resolving disputes to decongest the courts. ”

    “(6)…We are committed to the enactment of laws, establishment of institutions and law enforcement practices which would enlarge and protect rights and freedoms.”

    “(7)…National Police Service Commission would exercise direction and control over the police force and appoint all senior officers of the force on the basis of merit. ”

    “The Inspector General of Police shall be appointed with the approval of the head of state, but once in office, cannot be removed without judicial inquiry into allegations of misconduct or infirmity and subject to approval by the National Assembly.”

    “(8)…Undertake reform the Criminal Code to decriminalise all provisions that are not reasonable or justifiable in a Republic or Democratic society,… humanise law enforcement agencies and practices and rationalise penalties to be equivalent to crime committed; ”

    “(9)…Undertake reform of prisons and prison administration…. Introduce community service as alternative to imprisonment as measures to eradicate retributive justice.”

    “Since no sovereign citizen would choose to occupy a government post of a killer of killers…”

    “(10)…the death penalty would be abolished and life imprisonment maintained as the severest punishment for a crime.”

    “(11)…A National Prisons Service Commission will exercise direction and control over prison administration and appoint senior prison officers. ”

    “A Director General of Prisons shall be appointed with the approval of the head of state, but could only be removed by a judicial inquiry into allegations of infirmity of misconduct.”

    “Imams of major mosques and priests of major churches, trade union leaders and leaders of registered civic groups or associations would be honorary human rights commissioners and social auditors who could visit jails, prisons and other places of detention to check conditions and make representation for compliance with the laws or propose improvement or reforms in the administration of public institutions such as prisons.”

    “Courts shall be required to take judicial notice of any detention beyond the 72 hours established by the constitution, for a person to be held without bail or court appearance and count it as duress. ”

    “Human rights defenders will receive maximum media coverage and protection to ensure that all violations are reported, exposed and violators named and shamed.”

    “A sovereign person has a right to change a government, but has no right to kill and incite hatred to change a government…..”

    “Hence the crimes of Treason and Sedition are not permissible in a sovereign Republic. Those who kill or destroy property could be charged for their conduct…”

    NB…Numbers.separation dots and some paragraphs are my own additions…

  11. What more do we desire for a better Gambia than this??????

  12. Bax , I made reference to UDP Press conference on coalition talks – 17 th October 2011. In the press conference , lawyer Darboe highlighted how he and UDP reached out to various opposition leaders to come together to form a united front and also to discussion the modality of selecting a flag bearer . Mr Darboe indicated they did not agree on a common candidate at the time. Mr Darboe highlighted that UDP position was one of a party led and when parties are coming together to form an alliance . He indicated that it is the party with the majority that takes up leadership and lead the other parties in the alliance and contest the election . Lawyer Darboe noted that the UDP has accommodated in their proposal , the 5 years transition and all the attendant conditions that PDOIS articulated in their Agenda 2011.

    The above was just summary of press conference but later the talks failed and Pdois was not part of alliance .

    • Max,

      Which other parties were you or Lawyer Darboe referring to? UDP and who?

      I was at the signing ceremony of the united front at the Atlantic Hotel in 2011. This had NRP, PDOIS and GPDP as signatories.

      I recall Mai Fatty and OJ only returned from the west during the campaign. Mai announced his allegiance to UDP while still outside the country.

      Some of the conditions of the United front of 2011 was a primary of all interested persons to be voted by delegates who were going to be selected based on the party’s votes in the previous election. E.g. if you had 70% of the opposition votes, you would bring 70 delegates. 10%, 10 delegates. Independent like Lawyer Assan Martin with 0 delegate. Those delegates were going to vote to select a flag bearer who would not be aligned to any party and would serve only 5 years.

      This would have meant that Darboe would have brought in the highest no of delegates as his votes in all previous elections were higher than all others. What prevented him from taking part other than his desire for winner takes all and he be bound by no obligations to other parties who supported him as.

      At the signing, it was reiterated that due to the removal of the 2nd round of voting in the Gambia, our situation was exceptional and an outright majority party lead was out of the equation. As in all the other countries where there is a bigger party lead, it comes after the first round of votes and the runner up is supported by other opposition parties to remove the incumbent. This wasnt the case in The Gambia.

      What more do you want us to explain Max and Lafia.

  13. Bax , sorry I didn’t indicate the source where I got this press conference. I got it from Banta in cyberspace with the above heading . Please you can go and read the whole press conference if you like .

    UDP Press Conference on Coalition Talks-17/10/2011 – Bantaba in …
    http://www.gambia.dk › forums › topic

  14. OK Maxs…I know about the UDP press conference and what was said…I was of.the view that you meant they presented a document for public consideration, like PDOIS did…I think I have had several exchanges with others, including Lafia, on the matter…

    I hold the view that any party offering an alliance proposal must do so in a serious manner, detailing what they are offering in a document that can be presented to partners and put before the public for consideration..

    A press conference should be used as an opportunity to present the document to the nation and answer queries from the public..

    I do not wish to reignite debate on the subject, but it is no good to claim that all PDOIS demand have been accommodated without being specific….PDOIS has been very specific in what they want to be part of and as far as I can see, these have not been accommodated by the UDP..

    For example….

    (1)…PDOIS proposed a NON PARTY led alliance (this has not been accommodated)

    (2)…PDOIS proposed a primary or convention to select flag bearer (this has not been accommodated )

    (3)…PDOIS mapped out a detailed reform programme for the transition government, especially in the area of governance… The UDP merely pledged to carry out reforms but the scope and speed of these reforms is not clear.. (so we can say that this has not been accomodated)

    Even the claim being made about the accommodation of the (PDOIS) one 5 year term of the transition government is not quite correct because:

    (i)…The idea of a 5 year transition was a common one, agreed by all in 2006…So the UDP, rather than accommodating a PDOIS demand, is simply re-committing itself to what it signed up to ealier…unless someone wants us to believe that this too, was a PDOIS idea which the others just ignored…

    (2)…The nature of transition government that PDOIS proposed is completely different from what the UDP proposed…Even though the UDP agreed that Lawyer Darboe would serve only one term, they questioned the rationale of neutrality in the elections to usher in the 3rd Republic…

    Remember, PDOIS proposal barred the transition leader from supporting or alligning him/herself with any party or candidate during the elections for a successor..(this too ha

    Maxs, you have done very well to briefly summarise what you understood from the UDP press conference but you have not shared your views on it…

    Since you are never short of views on PDOIS, what is your view on the UDP position as you summarised above, if you don’t mind me asking.?

  15. Bax , thanks for asking . I apologize for not sharing my views on this press conference . My view at the time was party led alliance as advocated by UDP and I also supported the time frame indicated by Pdois as well as the idea of convention , and detailed reform programmes in term of good governance. I think convention would have been good signal for unification of political parties and it would have send a clear message to the dictator and Gambians. I also think that it was good idea for lawyer Darboe to serve only one five year term and during this period , significant reforms should be done . Building of national democratic institutions and as well as civic education which is huge part of Pdois programes should be done . I think it was a mistake they didn’t agree about the leadership of alliance . I believe that party with majority should lead and also should be accommodating other parties programes or policies . I think that was the most feasible , practical and sensible method to effectively challenge Jammeh. I still think that option can be used or creation of new political party with new leadership who has total support of current political leaders of all opposition parties for 2016 election .

  16. I commend Maxs for his little research into the meaning of primaries, but I think he should ask PDOIS how they intend to carry out their type of primary election. As Bax said there is no single format of doing primaries. It is just a method of selecting a flagbearer and how that is done is what is important. Convention to hold election to select a flagbearer is another form of primary. Let us not make simple matters very difficult. Before PDOIS, GPDP and NRP held a convention and selected a Flagbearer,many including OJ Jallow said they have never seen it done. Even though they now know its possible they would still insist that they have never seen it done.Maxs and all the doubters should wait until PDOIS comes up with its Criteria and method of selecting their Flagbearer. Mark you PDOIS is not oppose to Caucuses of any type as long as it is the voters that will decide the Flagbearer. How many times have they told us that. Whatever method that would help to show who the people want is applicable to PDOIS, so long as the government will be a transitional one and would accept to carry out all these demands mentioned by Bax in his above writeups.

  17. Lafia Touray la Manju

    The problem with Bax is that he still thinks Udp is bound by Nadd’s even though udp is no longer part of Nadd.

    Reading Darboe’s statement on in discussion with Sidia in 2011, it is clear udp only accommodated the 5yr transition and all its attendant conditions as a result of pdois adopting Halifa’s agenda 2011 as a party policy and which contains all these conditions. They did this to promote compromise as coalition cannot be based entirely on one party’s policy or proposal. It is pdois which refused to accept anything udp was saying or proposing. That is why there was no coalition in 2011.

    Nothing that happened or said in 2006 is a relevant consideration for udp in 2011. They only went by what was contained in Halifa’s agenda 2011 which was endorsed by pdois in a congress held at the Atlantic hotel in 2010.