Political contest is a contest for state power.
There are five types of political contests which could make state power to change hands.
Civilians could take up arms and form a liberation or rebel army to overthrow a government. This would require Millions of dollars to buy arms and ammunition, military attire and food ration to fight a protracted war. A recent experience of an armed intervention to take over by civilians with military training is 30th December 2014.Is this the way forward that is supported by the vast majority of Gambians? If your answer is in the negative then you should consider the next option.
Secondly, mutiny could occur within the ranks of the security forces which could result in a coup d’état. Do the vast majority of people prefer to fold their hands and pray for the day when a coup maker would bring about change for them? If your answer is in the negative then consider the next option?
Thirdly, assassins could utilise means to kill state authorities and thus bring about a change of leadership. Would you be willing to be a suicide bomber or sharp shooter who would strive to bring about change by clandestinely laying in wait to assassinate authorities and leave the subsequent developments to chance? If your answer is in the negative consider the next option?
Fourthly, the people in a country may take over the streets in their hundreds of thousands making it unwise to use force to disperse them as they demand for a change of Government. Security forces often join them and allow governments to fall. Is it evident that the vast majority of Gambians regardless of party affiliation, gender, ethno-linguistic origin or religion are in support of and fully ready to effect such a method of change? If your answer is in the negative then consider the next option.
Finally, a change of state power could take place through electoral contest between political parties. If this is your option one must consider the odds and challenges and how to address them.
The key challenge is that many Gambians admit that the ground is not level for free and fair electoral contest.
How is this to be addressed? Many people in the country are in support of a coalition to increase the strength of the opposition to win elections.
How this coalition is to be formed becomes the next challenge.
Electoral strength is determined by the mass support given to a party or person in elections.
In South Africa, ANC is supported by the largest number of South Africans because of its history as a liberation movement. Hence anybody selected to stand under it as a Presidential Candidate was likely to win. Could the same thing be said for the Gambian opposition? PDOIS’ answer is in the negative. One has no evidence to show that if anyone stands for any given opposition party he or she would win because of the party.
The evidence indicates that the largest opposition party which contested the last Presidential elections in 2011 had 17 percent of the votes while the candidate of the ruling party had 72 percent. This gap needs to be bridged before the 2016 Presidential elections.
PDOIS is of the view that in order for that gap to be filled the country must identify a presidential candidate who would be embraced by people who voted for or against the ruling party in 2011 and those who did not vote at all.
To make that doubly sure PDOIS proposes for each party to select its Presidential Candidate as soon as practicable. The candidates, including independent aspirants should begin their campaign and engage in debates right away so that the voters would begin to make up their minds on the quality of leadership they intend to give.
Each party should then indicate how it wants the flag bearer to be selected. This should also be debated in the public space.
PDOIS’ POSITION ON COALITION BUILDING
PDOIS has already selected its Presidential candidate. If all the other candidates are known by now people would be debating on their merits and shortcomings to shape public opinion.
The PDOIS Presidential candidate has also proposed that since each presidential candidate is to be nominated by 5000 people the nominators should be transformed into an electoral list to enable them to vote at a primary to select one Presidential candidate for the opposition.
No party is yet to indicate how a flag-bearer is to be selected for discussion to commence to reach a consensus. It is urgent for all parties to be urged to do so if they are indeed interested in a coalition. PDOIS has already forwarded its proposal to GOFER, the group established by the opposition, which is also copied to all member parties requesting for the convening of a meeting when all parties send their own proposals. We are yet to receive any other proposal from any other party.
OFFER OF A PRESIDENCY WITH A PDOIS MINORITY IN CABINET AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The PDOIS presidential candidate has offered to be a head of state who would appoint only 7 Ministers in a cabinet of 21 Ministers, that is, one third of the members of cabinet and one quarter plus 1seats in the National Assembly. Hence any partner that considers itself to have more support of voters in past elections could request for more Ministerial posts and more seats in the National Assembly and be in the Majority in both chambers.
Lastly, the PDOIS candidate has offered to serve only one term and not take sides in the subsequent presidential and National Assembly electoral contest.
ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR THE DISCHARGE AND RELEASE OF UP LEADERS AND MEMBERS
The greatest impasse to opposition unity is the arrest, detention and trial of the UDP leadership and members. There could be no credible electoral process unless they are freed. All hands should be on deck to ensure that they are freed.
THE PEOPLE ARE THE DECISION MAKERS.
THEY NEED TO KNOW THE OPTIONS BEFORE THEM IN ORDER TO DECIDE IN 2016. THEY SHOULD KNOW THEIR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES NOW!!