By Emmanuel Daniel Joof (Paps)
Must the Coalition Contest the National Assembly Election as “The Coalition” or Should They Contest as Individual Parties? Why Are Gambians Emotional on This Issue?
The Coalition government lead by President Adama Barrow is an amalgam of 6 different political parties (UDP, PPP, NCP, PDOIS, GMC, GPDP) and an Independent candidate Dr Isatou Touray that came together under one umbrella following a signed Memorandum of Understanding contest the December 1st 2016 Presidential elections under one Presidential flag bearer which (except for Mama Kandeh’s GDC) defeated the incumbent dictator Yahya Jammeh at the polls. The emotive debate now trending the social media is whether the Coalition should contest the upcoming National Assembly Elections in April as one Coalition Party or as individual parties?
Gambians who hitherto would desist from expressing their political views under dictator Jammeh for fear of being arrested, tortured and even killed are today articulating their views and ideas openly, irrespective of the fact that they are conversant or knowledgeable with the topic at hand and unfortunately some are even using abusive and offensive language in the name of their new-found freedom to put their points across. That said, perhaps they can be forgiven for not being accustomed to expressing themselves freely and openly for the last 22 years and I guess this is the beauty of our new-found democracy.
The simple answer to the question is that there is nothing stopping the individual parties from contesting the National Assembly Elections. In fact, the MOU that was signed by the parties did not stipulate that the parties forming the Coalition government should contest the National Assembly Election as a Coalition.
Let us all remember that The Coalition’s Primary Purpose was to have one Presidential Flag Bearer. The upcoming National Assembly Elections is therefore free game for the individual parties and even independent candidates to contest. Although some of us may wish that the Coalition contest the National Assembly Elections as one party, it is perhaps prudent to have the individual parties and independent candidates contest these Parliamentary seats independent of the Coalition as a party. The positive side of having parties contesting the National Assembly Elections is that we may end up having quality parliamentarians which we so desperately need for them to scrutinize Bills (draft laws) submitted to Parliament and to also act as a check to the executive i.e. the Coalition Cabinet and not be a rubber stamp and sycophantic Parliamentarians as was the case under Yahya Jammeh Babili Jackass and his APRC National Assembly Members.
What Gambians should perhaps urgently request the Coalition Government (cabinet) is for them to get their act together and speak with one voice, regularly engage and inform the public to clear the air on important governance issues, follow proper procedures and exercise due process and diligence in their dealings, and most importantly roll out their agenda for governing the country in a transparent and accountable manner.
Lastly, I am curious to know the strength and popularity of the individual parties and the independent candidates and this can only be known when they subject themselves directly to the people to be elected at the various constituencies.
Let us all make sure that we do not return APRC parliamentarians who supported a murderous regime that stole our resources and subjugate Gambians for 22 years and nearly stole our December 1st 2016 Presidential Elections but for the help of ECOWAS our victory has been maintained.