The leader of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) believes “there are no losers or winners in an election. There are representatives and those waiting to be representatives if the people decide to select them.”
Halifa Sallah of PDOIS, who spoke to this reporter, said nobody ever thought by now Gambians would be having election with another President in office other than the one who ruled the country for 22 years.
Halifa Sallah’s party, one of the oldest parties in the Gambia, clinched 7 seats in the 2018 local government elections. The party lost in Serekunda Central, a constituency Mr. Sallah represents in parliament.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) won 62 seats of 120 wards, the Gambia Democratic Congress secured 23 seats, the dethroned Alliance for Patriotic, Re-orientation and Construction got 18, National Reconciliation Party won 5 while Gambia Moral Congress and People’s Progressive Party each secured a seat. Three independent candidates won while National Convention Party and Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress failed to win a seat.
But Hon. Sallah thinks what is important in an election is that fundamental lesson has been learnt that power belongs to the people and that leadership must be accountable to the people. “When people own power, you do not judge them when they decide to entrust it to whoever they desire,” Halifa said, refusing to speculate whether the newly elected councillors will make a difference. The effectiveness of the councils, he said, depends on the citizenry who should be able to select the best that would be able to serve them. “A transparent administration is what we expect,” Hon. Sallah added.
The election of local representatives has raised Gambian voters’ expectations that it will not be business as usual at the grassroots level.
The leader of the UDP emphasised the importance of municipal and local government institutions. “It’s important that these institutions (Municipal and Local Governments Council) are put in place,” Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said. “The electoral circle is now completed,” he said, justifying the reason for fielding in candidates in all the wards of Kanifing Municipal Council. The reason lies in the municipality being the largest and richest in the country.
“We needed to put people in the municipality who will judiciously manage the resources for the benefit of the community,” Mr. Darboe said.
The UDP leader decried the situation that prevailed during the APRC administration. During the period, KMC failed to ensure good service delivery. “Even refuse was improperly collected by the municipality.”
The PPP Interim Chairman also stressed the importance of the election of councilors who are in direct contact with their communities. “The Councils are the institutions that manage the resources and revenues of the community. It is very important for people to see council election as very important component of national development,” Omar Amadou Jallow said.
Mr. Jallow said the Gambia is a country that is building a foundation on democratic, sustainable culture. “I would like to appeal to all party leaders to see the elections as a process geared towards uniting the Gambia, but not dividing the country.”