By Abdoulie John
Gambian opposition leader has expressed his resolve to take part in 2016 elections, and ruled out a possible election boycott by his party.
“As far as we are concerned, the issue of boycotting is not on our table,” Hamat Bah of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) assured.
Hamat Bah’s statement comes in the midst of a tussle over opposition’s demands for electoral reforms, and pro-democracy groups and some political parties are intensifying boycott call as authorities continue to turn a deaf ear to repeated calls for reform from politicians and human rights activists. A recent government reform has drastically increased deposits for candidates and fees for the registration of political parties.
“We strongly believe that by boycotting elections, we are strengthening the incumbent. The only way to get rid of this regime is to challenge President Jammeh in elections,” he said while government is yet to come up with any reform agenda.
Despite the fact that NRP on August 6 won a parliamentary seat in Lower Saloum by-election, Hamat Bah agreed that demands spearheaded by the country’s opposition are still relevant. “This will help to strengthen our position and the issue of governance in the country.”
However, Mai Ahmad Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) is overwhelmingly in favour of an election boycott. “Without comprehensive electoral reforms, it will constitute a conspiracy to entrench tyranny by going for elections. We are for elections, but not on the back of the voters. If we have to unite, it must be on achieving reforms before elections,” he said in a statement widely circulated via social media.
Fatty said Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh cannot circumvent a united opposition demand for reforms. “Any opposition campaign should be on preparing the nation for a showdown on reforms. That is why our policy remains
empowering the opposition’s ability to enforce its demands, not canvassing for votes at this stage.”
The spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Joseph Colley hang up the phone when asked why the country’s electoral body is still reluctant to comply with opposition’s demands.
Gambia is ruled with an iron fist by President Yahya Jammeh who seized in a 1994 military coup. In 2011, just after casting his vote, Jammeh told reporters that he is ready to rule for “one billion years”.
Fatty ” Any opposition campaign should be on preparing the nation for a showdown on reforms . This is why our policy remains empowering the opposition’s ability to enforce its demands , not canvassing for votes at this stages ”
This is the position I fully support and every geniune opposition party should take the same route to ensure that there is reforms. Without any meaningful reforms , those who are going to participate in the next election are simply conceding and handing victory to Jammeh , thereby legitimatizing military dictatorship and entrenchment of the regime in power .
Mr Ahmed Bah should always try to understand that democracy is not about voting alone , it is about check and balance , rule of law , freedom of speech and association . But it seem to me , he doesn’t care about the outcome of his party actions , constitutionality of current election act 2015 , electoral reforms and level playing field. It is indeed unintelligent and naive to participate in an election for the sake of it when there is no electoral reform or level playing field . They may as well give their deposit to charity .
. “Any opposition campaign should be on preparing the nation for a showdown on reforms…..”
Comment…As far as we know, none of the opposition parties whose leaders are on the ground is preparing the nation for a showdown on reform…
Has Mr Fatty indicated, in his statement, how he and his party wish to prepare the nation and get the cooperation of the other parties, for this showdown..?
“That is why our policy remains
empowering the opposition’s ability to enforce its demands, not canvassing for votes at this stage.”
Comment….”empowering the opposition to enforce its demands.?” Good policy but the questions that beg to be asked are.. “how” and “what form”….What sort of showdown is Mr Fatty talking about here.?
How is the GMC empowering the opposition to enforce its demands, on a regime that has so far shown nothing but indifference..?
How will the GMC encourage the majority parties on the ground, who are all preparing for 2016, to abandon their plans and prepare for a showdown..?
Policies will just remain wishes if they cannot be practicalised and those who talk policies without showing how they will be achieved, will be guilty of EMPTY TALK…
The Gambia’s problem is not whether elections can remove Yaya Jammeh from power or.not…..That. fact is as.plain as day light…
Even Yaya Jammeh and his APRC are in no doubt that they can be defeated at the polls…That is why they are doing all they can to stifle elections and restrict challenge to their rule…
What is missing from this “fight” is a strong ALL PARTY candidate, who can appeal to all voters (men and women; young and old) and who should be supported by a massive and effective campaign…
The nation is tired of Yaya Jammeh but no one has yet managed politically, to effectively tap into this “tiredness” and transform it into a winning formular… The ingredients are there for the formular to be worked out…
Election boycott is NOT the answer for a regime that is not willing to undertake genuine reforms, unless it is the first step in a series of steps to force reform…
Bax I partly agree with you. The polls can have effect against Jammeh only if these two points are met. 1- Removing the simple majority vote takes it all, 2- Having a single opposition candidate.
And better still allowing diaspora Gambians the right vote will nail Jammeh in the mud for good.
One day when I have a little time I will try to explain to you why an alliance will be nearly impossible. UDP is pissed off at PDOIS; they think PDOIS’ refusal to allow Darboe lead NADD spoiled a perfect alliance that had the potential to remove Jammeh in 2006.
PDOIS is pissed at UDP because as a pay back UDP went against Halifa in palimentary elections that year and he lost his seat. It is personal now. You killed my dog; I will kill your cat.
Do not put too much hope in an alliance. Our leaders are not serious. Unless Moses comes we are doomed.
Paul Mendy “it is personal now . You killed my dog, I will kill your cat “hahahatie, you really made laugh. Lol. I didn’t know tha. Anyway two options should be thought of
1. Party led Alliance in which party with majority should lead
2. Creation of new party with new leadership who has total and full support of all the current opposition leaders. The new leader shouldn’t be current leader of any party but someone who has national respect, charisma, integrity, international respect and experience, strong and visionary. Selection should be based on concession rather than a primary as advocated by Pdois. There has to be reforms and level playing field before any election to take place. I believe option 2 will be better option but if we don’t have that, the second option will be good idea with full support of current opposition leaders.
Maxs, I agree with point 2 but have doubt if PDOIS will accept it.
I know for a fact that there is a pact between Halifa and Amath from the last 2011 elections. Halifa accepted to join Amath in 2011 in return for Amath to support Halifa in 2016. It seems to me Amath will betray Halifa in 2016. Amath can flip flop at the blink of an eye LoL! If such is the case then PDOIS is better of seeking the blessing of the UDP and PPP to form a unity government after victory.
However choosing a new independent candidate supported by all parties is a very remote possibility knowing for a fact that Halifa and Amath will not agree to that.
Remember these opposition leaders have been waiting for their turn and will never under ANY circumstances leave that chance to a new commer even if it means letting Jammeh rule for another 5 Years. Sad but factual, I know them very well.
Finally I truely think that Halifa being an honest gentlman can enter into a pact with Darboe and OJ knowing he will VEVER betray them. You can take that to the bank. To me this is the best and most feasible scenario for 2016.
However having said the above, it is imperative that electoral reform on the simple majority must be fought agaisnt by ALL means necessary, this is the single most DANGEROUS stumbling block to victory.
Sorry typo : I meant to say ” I believe option 2 will be better option but if we don’t have that , the first option will be good idea with the full support of current opposition leaders “.
Bax said ” what is missing from this fight is a strong all party candidate who can appeal to all voters ( men and women , young and old ) and who should be supported by a massive and effective campaign ”
I absolutely agree with you and I think this has been a problem for long time . Looking at the current leadership in each party, we do not have inspirational and motivational leader who inspire and galvanize the population to effectively challenge the dictator . Fighting dictatorship is not like challenging democratic leader and I think this is the mistake opposition leaders are making . A leadership in such situation must be ready to pay ultimate price for the people and the dictator must be aware of this at times. Lawyer Darboe with his legal mind , is not inspirational and strong enough to lead the population to effectively challenge the dictator despite having large opposition supporters. Jammeh recognize this weakness in him long time ago . I think it was just recently he picked up the steam and courage to stand up to fight. He could have been Mandela of the Gambia if he had taken that route since 1996. Jammeh is someone who is bold , unpredictable ,decisive and arrogant.
@Maxs…”Looking at the current leadership in each party, we do not have inspirational and motivational leader who inspire and galvanize the population to effectively challenge the dictator.. . ”
Comment….In that case, I must say I am surprised at your rejection of PDOIS’ idea of holding primaries to select a flag bearer…
PDOIS’ proposal opens the contest to individuals from outside of the political circle or class to contest, either in a Primary or a Convention…So a candidate as you describe above.could emerge…
The UDP favours a closed alliance with no possibility of a candidate from outside the UDP, leading the alliance…
I think the PDOIS proposal.is far superior to the UDP party line…
The only thing Hamat is ever consistent on is this policy against boycott. Not only do I agree with him, I respect him for that principled stand.
Hamat Bah’s position on this matter cannot be call principle, to be fair it could only be call double stand, how can one be forexample with qur ana recitting group and at the same time being with other group who are doing bear drinking party?
First of all , Hamat Bah will never be a president, But God forbid he was become one, what would he do with it? The only vision this guy has is, to contest every election, Don’t we see Enough already?
I particulary enjoy Deyda’s speculation on our party leaders but I doubt his assertion that he knows all of them very well. I don’t know about others but I know for sure that Halifa had not made any pact with Hamat or any party leader for that matter. That speculation is incorrect.