The 2016 Gambia Opposition parties
Banjul, the Gambia
Dear Party Leaders
RE: Coalition is the only viable strategy for change
After 22 years of unbridled dictatorship and economic hardships, The Gambian people once more cry for collective leadership to rescue our country from its misery. For the past fifteen years, Gambians have called for unity among the opposition as the only viable strategy that can bring an end to Jammeh’s misrule.
Since the 2001 General elections, the attempt at a coalition of all parties has been elusive. The consequence has been continued impunity, which has resulted in the killing of the student protesters, the murder of Deyda Hydara and death and disappearances of an undetermined number of Gambians. The 2006 General elections saw the formation of the NADD alliance, followed by excitement among Gambians both at home and abroad. The euphoria was soon followed by disappointed due to our inability to maintain the strategic alliance that many believe to be the only peaceful means to bring change to our country. The 2011 General election presented us with another opportunity, but in spite of the lessons learned from previous elections, only a partial coalition of parties was achieved, which resulted in a landslide defeat by the brutal incumbent regime. As a result the killings, disappearances, illegal detentions, the obliteration of institutions, and a virtual destruction of the economy in the Gambia continue unabated. The December 2015 declaration of Gambia as an Islamic state and the continued impunity is sowing the seeds for the final destruction of our country as we know it.
With only two months until the presidential elections, the opposition forces are besieged with unprecedented challenges; party leaders are dragging their feet to come to the negotiating table to do the only sensible and responsible thing form a coalition. We have seen the Jammeh regime systematically put up obstacles in the form of election amendments, that gives the ruling APRC the sole advantage to be reelected. The killing of Solo Sandeng and the jailing of the entire UDP executive is the last salvo in his calculated determination to hold onto power at all cost.
Though we are aware of the complexity and difficulty of building of coalitions among political parties, the situation in our country warrants a need for collective sacrifice to give Gambians the opportunity to vote for change.
Forming a coalition will not guarantee victory with a corrupt and discredited IEC and a playing field that favors the incumbent; however a united front is the only viable option to challenge Jammeh and the many electoral irregularities. This will give us the opportunity to galvanize all our financial resources, logistics and the message for change that we firmly believe will resonate with the Gambian people.
It will be fatal mistake for any party or leader to believe that Gambians are so disenchanted with Jammeh’s 22 years of tyranny, that a fractured opposition could defeat him. We categorically emphasize that the only viable way of putting up a credible fight is to have ONE UNITED FRONT CANDIDATE come December 1st; anything else will be a total travesty and waste of time and resources. We continue to hope and appeal to all of you to expedite the talks and come up with an alliance of all opposition parties, and together so we can fight collectively for the sake of our country.
In conclusion, we would like to take this opportunity to forward a reasonable proposal for your consideration, and hopefully it will help expedite the process to find common ground:
TABLE A THREE DAY COALITION TALK TO NOMINATE ONE UNITED FRONT CANDIDATE:
Extend invitations to all opposition parties to send three members of their executive to represent them at the talks. The First meeting should focus on hearing from each party to highlight their position to the plan for a strategic alliance of all opposition parties to effect change in the 2016 General elections. The main goal is to allow all the parties to commit to the talks which would ultimately bring them together to challenge the incumbent under a united front.
All parties that subscribe to a coalition must commit financial and human resources to the process- All parties must agree to contribute D500.000 to be put in a coalition fund and commit their whole party apparatus to the coalition.
The second day will move to discuss the framework to the nature of the alliance, whether to pursue a party led or an independent led coalition. This discussion will be followed by the group coming up with a consensus, but if it fails the group should apply the simple majority rule to determine the framework of the alliance.
The third and final day will allow the group to develop the instruments of a memorandum of understanding, to be followed by the selection of the candidate to lead the united front. Relying to the agreed upon MOU, the group will be able to pursue the final selection of the Flag bearer. After the selection of the Flagbearer and the signing of the MOU, the group can immediately launch a series of rallies to introduce the united front, the MOU and the selected Flagbearer.