By Pa Modou Jack
Though Dr. Touray and her surrogates, grouped both in her campaign and other supporting political parties and organizations, signed the Draft Agreement on Friday 14th October, they were quick to come out back calling for a review, just three days later, on the 17th October 2016.
Dr. Touray and her chaps are of the view that what was now needed was ¨a more explicit and strategic framework agreement covering the convention and identification of an opposition flag bearer, the election campaign and the composition of the unity government to usher into the third republic. ¨ To make it easier to understand what they are saying, it is perhaps better itemize their demand list compress in this short statement:
- More explicit and strategic framework agreement covering the Convention for identifying a flag bearer.
- Framework of Agreement covering the election campaign.
- Framework of Agreement covering the composition of the unity government.
In the 17th October statement Dr. Isatou Touray is said to welcome the initiative and that she is ´highly committed to the process for the building up of the opposition coalition for the purpose of ending 22 years of tyranny and restoring democracy to the Gambia on December 1,¨ but the choice of words calling for more ¨explicit¨ and ¨strategic ¨ suggests the coming into play of forces too farfetched from the noble endeavours we all thought we were busy with.
In the same statement Dr. Touray and her supporters went on to allege that: ¨The signed draft agreement which contains a number of committees are at best too broad, pre-mature and incoherent and at worse inadequate to address the fundamental issues that must be highlighted and agreed upon. Hence my campaign has proposed a modified version that is more comprehensive and relevant to our circumstances.¨
Errors in both grammar and syntax of the sentence in the above quoted paragraph make it difficult to be sure of what exactly the text is referring to, but still leave us wondering how committees can be ¨too broad, pre-mature or incoherent;¨ or how they can be ¨ inadequate to address the fundamental issues that must be highlighted and agreed upon.¨
The so called modified agreement that is being proposed by Dr. Touray and chaps is called ‘Framework Agreement for the Coalition of Opposition Parties in the Gambia for the 2016 Presidential Election and Composition of Government of National Unity.’ This
It is introduced as, ¨Framework Agreement is expected to address the current and the ongoing situations that will arise as we seek change in our country. The various sections of this Framework Agreement are hereby proposed such that if consensus is achieved, it can be fully developed for signature. Fundamental questions and issues are raised to guide the development of the Framework Agreement.¨
But what if that consensus fails to be achieved in the run up to the December 1st election or in the situation immediately following the election? Dr. Touray calling her proposed draft a framework of agreement is rather unfortunate since it brings with it an air, if not a sense, of the unfinished business or un-concluded deal in these circumstances when we have so little done and so much more to do.
A framework agreement is an agreement between two parties that recognizes that the parties have not come to a final agreement on all matters relevant to the relationship between them, but have come to agreement on enough matters to move forward with the relationship, with further details to be agreed to in the future. It is some what tentative and far from definitive.
A framework agreement is not an interim agreement. It’s more detailed than a declaration of principles but is less than a full-fledged agreement. Its purpose is to establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable the parties to then flesh out and complete a comprehensive agreement. What Gambia needs today is an agreement between all the democratic and anti-tyrannical forces to come together to put up a single candidate of convenience for contesting the December 1st presidential election, setting up an interim government that will lead us to referendum for a Third Republic and freer and fairer elections for a new government.
Because Gambians, both politicians and followers, came out too late to face this task we cannot expect the best of agreements possible out of such a situation. All we can try is to make the best out of a worse possible situation. There is not much time to discuss what has not been exhaustively discussed for over twenty years. Let us resort to the approach of minimalism, we bite what we can chew at any one time but we make sure, that in the end, we chew off the balls of the autocracy come December.
In her draft Framework Agreement Dr. Touray writes:
¨Sections 1 and 2 relate the convention and the campaign foe the election, while Sections 3 and 4 relate to the transitional government of national unity. For each section, key issues and tasks have been identified for discussion and development upon agreement.¨
Methodology for Opposition Convention to Elect a Flag Bearer
Composition of Delegates: Identification, number and types of delegates.
Mode of Election Process:
Yes, like I mentioned earlier, because all we Gambians, not only the politicians and their parties, but all concerned citizens, failed to rise up to this challenge in time, we cannot expect the best of quality agreements all of a sudden and cannot reasonably insist upon such as preconditions.
The October 14th agreement that is to be signed hopefully on the 30th October is currently with very little credibility, marketability or should we say, warranty? The guarantee that one can speak of concerning such an agreement is the assurance that stakeholders will remain loyal to the results of the October 30th flag-bearer selection process despite its chaotic prospects. Would it not have been more prudent to make all contending candidates pay towards the candidature-fee and that the strength of voting power for each party to be determined by how much is contributed by each participating party or coalition member rather than a notion of mechanical-democracy or artificial parity of delegation? Would it not then have been better then to push the selection of the flag bearer until after financial contributions have been made by the contending parties and voting rights determined pro rata from these contributions? In other words, choose the flag bearer after payments are made and not before. I is my opinion that such a formula would have effectively taken care of many of Dr. Touray’s concerns and queries as it will those of many others. Particularly those stricken with the fear that there are others out there that are only after the free-ride ticket to State House.
Listen to all the whimpering Dr Touray has for us all! She sounds real nervous and worried at each prospective turn of events. She wonders:
To determine where the election will be held and how. Are all delegates to travel to a particular location or will election be held in respective venues? Who will oversee or conduct the elections? Will candidates be required to deliver speeches/manifestos to delegates or not? Is the election by a simple or absolute majority? If there is a second round of voting, when shall this be?
Announcement of Results:
How will the results be announced and by who? How will we address contestation or rejection of results by other stakeholders?
Declaration of Opposition Flag Bearer: When, where and how will the winner of the election be declared as the flag bearer of the opposition coalition? What will be the role and position of all other leaders of the opposition? How will the nomination of the flag bearer be done?
Election Campaign Strategy
Campaign Structure and Outline:
With the announcement of the flag bearer, how will the campaign be conducted? What are the roles and responsibilities of parties and leaders of the coalition in the campaign? Will there be a central coordination committee for the campaign and what is the composition? What other committees will be set up? Where will be the headquarters of the coalition?
How will the campaign be funded? What contribution will each party make? How will the Diaspora contribution be managed? How will the resources of the campaign be managed? Who is the chief accounting officer of campaign resources? What reporting mechanisms will be created?
What are the key messages and talking points of the campaign? Who will deliver the messages? How will speakers at rallies be identified? What media channels and products be utilised? Who will be the spokesperson for the national campaign?
Campaign Ethics and Standards:
What code of conduct will guide the campaign in its messages, rallies, leaders and supporters?
Composition of Unity Government
Transitional Arrangements for the Unity Government:
What is the duration of the transitional government?
Number of Cabinet Positions:
How many ministerial positions will be created? What are they?
Position of Vice President:
Where will the vice president come? How do we indentify the view president?
Distribution of Ministerial Positions:
How will the rest of the Cabinet positions be distributed? What is the process? What is the qualification?
Distribution of key government agencies:
How do we fill positions for key state institutions: public enterprises, statutory institutions and security apparatus?
Roadmap of the Unity Government
Annual Work plan of Government:
Identification of tasks and targets per quarter.
List of Constitutional amendments:
How do we conduct constitutional review? What is the basis for the review and changes? Will there be a referendum and how?
List of legal reviews:
What pieces of legislature should be reviewed? To be repealed, reformed and created?
Identification and review of institutional arrangements:
A review of state institutions including security apparatuses in terms of their mandate, location and composition.
Setting up of Commissions of Enquiry: What commissions of enquiry need to be set up, when and how? What will there mandates be?
Truth and Justice Commission
- Commission on the Review and Release of Political Prisoners
This proposal could be developed in stages. Fundamentally it is important that Section 1 (Methodology for Opposition Convention to Elect a Flag Bearer) and Section 2 (Election Campaign Strategy) are developed now for the purpose of the convention. The rest of the sections could be developed from thereon before the elections so that they are finalised. We felt it is necessary to lay down these regulations and guidelines so as to strengthen the coalition by generating more confidence and trust and maintaining the momentum that is building. With such guidelines, it also prevents distractions along the way.
National Assembly Elections 2017
Given the fact that the National Assembly Elections will take place within the first three months of 2017, there is a need to discuss the nature and role of the coalition in that election. These discussions should begin in earnest. The modalities for the participation of the coalition should be identified and put in place. This is significant simply because there cannot be any constitutional and legal changes without a parliamentary structure in place.
But before saying bye to the good doctor let me let her know the 14th October agreement signed has no owner or custodian. She has as much right to ask the questions as to propose answers to them. Because Hon. Halifa Sallah and his PDOIS took the initiative does not give them any right of answering any questions or giving any clarifications. Many of the answers are yet to be provided and would need to be ironed out as we all push forward towards ultimate victory. But not all the questions need to be touched on right now. Some we cannot on now because they are better left with the Gambian voters to decide on at a later more appropriate date. Furthermore, there are some questions that are better debated behind closed doors, better leaving opponents in ignorance than in the know. There are even some issues that are better left till after December 1st since they serve more to divide than unite us.
In my opinion a question like who will declare the winning Flag Bearer should be a secondary inner matter to be decided over by the coalition parties themselves: When, where and how will the winner of the election be declared as the flag bearer of the opposition coalition? What will be the role and position of all other leaders of the opposition? How will the nomination of the flag bearer be done? These are all just matters can be left to the hands of the parties,
Election Campaign Strategy, is not seem to go public with as all our opponents would be keen listening. So also is also all matters of campaign strategies, tactics and disciplines.
Resource Mobilisation is an inner party affair matter and not for the public grab and is better left so. So are matters of funding and resource management, both Diaspora and locally generated will be managed prudently as well as guardedly? What contribution will each party make? What is the Honourable Doctor’s suggestion? Who is the chief accounting officer of campaign resources? Who is Dr Touray suggesting? What reporting mechanisms will be created? What does the Honourable Doctor suggest? Campaign Messages:
What are the key messages and talking points of the campaign? These are not matters for public consumption.
Composition of Unity Government, Transitional Arrangements for the Unity Government: these are definitely matters for inner-coalition talks and not for outside speculation.
What is the duration of the transitional government? Does the doctor have any reason to have a transitional government stay longer than two years, beyond, drawing up a draft constitution, holding a referendum over it and holding fresh elections. Many things like judicial reviews, national reconciliation , official enquiries are the work of the Third Republican government not to be usurped by the Transitional government.
Hence the need for a minimalist approach. For the first most governance affairs policy measures cannot be exhausted within a single five-year term even if there is sufficient intra-party unity around that policy. Because of this many of the following queries and questions raise by Dr Touray have to be properly channelled: