Challenging Dr Touray On Her Proposal For Opposition Convention

dr-isatou-touraySetting Dr Touray Straight on her ‘ Proposals for Opposition Convention Submitted to GOFER’’

 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:

  1. More explicit and strategic framework agreement covering the Convention for identifying a flag bearer.
  2.  Framework of Agreement covering the election campaign.
  3.  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?

Resource Mobilisation:

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?

Campaign Messages:

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

  1. 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:





  1. Yes it seems Dr Isatou Touray is having a (presumed) holistic unified mentality approach view already, with the convention rejoinder presentation; true, the stakeholders & representatives in the various partisan leaderships & delegates are themselves to consult together & conform on ad hoc bases & agree amongst themselves along to shape the way forward gradually…

    Her rejoinder nonetheless could serve good ingredient amongst others for the coalition memorandum of understanding framework, etc; Gambians believe our opposition leaderships must agree to & accept whosoever is declared the winner of the convention on October 30;


    Long live the Gambia…

  2. Pa Modou Jack’s RE: to Dr. Touray’s rejionder is ,my view, a distraction from the real issues at hand.
    Firstly, Dr. Touray has used the opportunity available to add her inputs and voice her concerns without resorting to delaying tactics or holding the Gofer hostage. She signed up to the ACCORD and her rejionder is not a criticism of the GOFER process. She is merely taking the issue of selecting the flagbearer seriously and giving a PROPOSAL.
    Secondly, being proactive doesn’t mean rushing to conclusion. On the contrary, it would be foul play if you keep quiet while the process is being workout, only to opt out when the outcome of vote at the convention does not favour you.

    Finally, who ever come out winner tomorrow , must be welcomed wholeheartedly. The distractions and tactics plays in the opposition camp must be become history. Any of the leaders contesting are legible to lead us. This enterprise will be much more effective and richer if the outcome is accepted and we collectively match to redemption. A woman from our own flesh is equally equipped to lead us. Those voting at tomorrow’s convention have a choice and they must take their responsibility seriously.

  3. In my opinion, irrespetive of how Dr. Touray channels her queries and questions , with regards to her ‘proposals for an opposition convention’. What ordinary Gambians can rely on today at this point in time of their national predicament is the self-integrity of its opposition politicians, and aspirants.
    Time factor may be an important issue that the elections are just a few weeks ahead but not as important as the required leadership qualities that are expected of them, or expected to be inculcated in them by now. Self-integrity is not a subject to be lectured or indoctrinated us. It is to be discovered within the contents of our Gambian hearts especially within those of it’s public personnel.
    Thanks Mr. Jack. The article is definitely an intelligent one.

  4. Unbiased Prince GB

    Fellow Gambians,

    My Political party and I have learnt with utter frustration that on 25 October 2016, the Government of the Gambia under Yaya Jammeh’s misrule have once again, undemocratically and unconstitutionally announced our Nation’s withdrawal from the ICC’s ‘Rome Statute’ of largely base on establishing the International Criminal Court’s duties.

    We found the decision to withdraw The Gambia from the ICC by the incompetent APRC leadership, ungratifying and totally intolerable hence it is with what should not be our Nationalistic habitual. The decision was badly construed by the same inept APRC administration. And it is indeed repulsive in terms of deterrence for the political injustice that Yaya Jammeh and his evil men are held bend on seeking with all their illicit capability and banditry proficiency.

    The gruesome nature on tolerance by Yaya Jammeh withdrawing the country from the ICC and its menacing reality of not admonishing difference, is a travesty situation that must not stand to define the Gambian culture, norms and not for a supposed independent country like ours which does not only ushers but mainly floats or kinking on its ‘Sovereign Republican Status’ for over 51 years of independence and political sovereignty from British colonialism.

    The Gambia by now should not have same Yaya Jammeh’s leadership that continues to grumble, protest but moans utterly while on the wittedly of complains over the noxious nature of Neo-colonialism and the deleterious disgraces of Western colonisation (of passed and forgotten matters) while busily on the contrarily of held bend in dancing to their charm.

    The statement of withdrawing our Nation from the ICC by Yaya Jammeh through his gangster regime, have clearly underscored the grave importance of our country playing its important part Globally at the ICC. The statement has but since went on to show Yaya Jammeh’s lack of moderational simplicity and his often neglecting of how our international relations with the outside world must work while within the demanding circumstance and ways of what global institutional operation means.

    On the most complex setting nature of our Nation needing a tolerable and a most compactable leader for The Gambia, Yaya Jammeh would always seek to defied with little or no conscience leading his decision. That is his nature I suppose and has been with utter understanding of all Gambians in the duration of having Yaya Jammeh adamantly deciding to lead the country with little or no academic intelligence of argued many times.

    Clumsy in details but facts would always keep maintaining its audacity of competent stubbiness hence Yaya Jammeh is just your typical puppet of the Western-world while playing cocky on the later of his backyard and on vulnerable Gambians. Not long ago, Yaya Jammeh and his Government accuses the ICC and western nations of being bias on the developing countries. But why did he play a blind eye on his own hypocrisy which cannot hail worse than when him, the same Yaya Jammeh signed a bilateral immunity agreement with the Government of the United States in 2002 guaranteeing to not take US citizens before his kangaroo courts?

    What does double standards means to the APRC administration when the same regime under Yaya Jammeh’s misrule was in fact engaged in the same practice of their leadership been castigating the Wester-world in today’s generation for?

    By Ndey Jobarteh

    Edited by The Unbiased Prince

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