We can be proud of the convention. It was held in a spirit of decorum and professionalism. Respect was the cornerstone of the deliberations and even though I was not following it live, the live pictures sent out were a testimony that we can, in the auspices of professionalism in line with our customs, make rational decisions.
The results analysis, showed that the delegates were in fact not interested in tactics or behind the scene last minutes maneuverings. They voted decisively to avoid a stalemate that could sow more bad blood among the aspirants. They didn’t vote along party lines which gives insight that the cross-section of the Gambian society is really interested in change and found in Adama Barrow and the UDP infrastructure with the tacit support of the combined opposition, the means to effect that change. They came from different regions of the country and are from different ethno-linguistic groups making up the Gambian family. They could have disintegrated into partisan and tribal misgivings and throw the whole convention into shambles. But no. Formal educated, informal educated, housewife, farmers etc. from all walks of Gambia life, joined forces in decorum and respect to forge a vote that is decisive and overwhelming that no room for doubts was allowed.
The convention is a brainchild of those who saw a need for a professional selection and more importantly the involvement of the people in the selection process. They didn’t want a backroom diplomacy or deal making. They didn’t want the powerful to dictate the terms. Each of the parties small or big got equal voting powers. They were free to choose their delegates and they were free to vote for any one of their liking. Therefore the result is a milestone in Gambian politics. It is a monumental achievement on the part of the individual parties, their heads and the civil society headed by GOFER.
I was in the camp that pleaded for a room for Dr. Touray to be part of the selection. She was welcomed into the selection and given equal delegates like the established parties. She had the same chance of putting her program before the delegates and she had equal chance of winning the votes. However she decided to withdraw. The reasons will certainly follow. I think her withdrawal was a disappointment to many who wanted a female on the selection list for the opposition flagbearer. They are disappointed. Her timing is poor and it clouds her judgement going forward. It will be difficult for her to sell the point that she came onboard to unite the opposition under one banner. Her absence buried this narrative.
I fully welcome Adama Barrow’s selection as the opposition’s flagbearer.
From the perspective of raw politics, UDP was destined to garner the sympathy of the opposition even if they are not core voters of the party. The party has shouldered the most atrocities against opposition in the country and continues to wield immense attraction from the populace who has signaled “enough is enough” of this rampant impunity. The selection of Adama Barrow is also symbolic. The origin of the flagbearer is an embodiment of our interrelatedness. I suspect the delegates also note this aspect and were aware that the country must reconcile and begin a new era of justice and healing. Mr. Barrow is the ideal person for that task ahead.