Friday, February 21, 2014

Breathing life into Raleigh

We wrote a piece last January that asked, rhetorically, whether Raleigh was dead.  By Raleigh, we were referring, of course, to the political gathering of Gambian political parties and civic societies in the North Carolinian city of the same name which took place last May.  The reason for the question was there was little movement is establishing the Steering Committee mandated by the Raleigh Process.

We wrote a follow-up piece entitled "Is Raleigh dead? : The sequel" in February asking whether Raleigh, the process, was dead.  The response came a week later announcing that the Steering Committee known as The Committee For The Restoration of Democracy in The Gambia or CORDEG had meet to set in motion the nomination process leading to the election of members of the Executive of the Steering Committee.  The process took a little over a week before the results were certified and announced.  It took another fortnight before the first news conference was conducted with the top three executives taking part.

We have been critical in the past of both the process that culminated into what we like to refer to as the Raleigh Process, and the inclusion of the political parties which, in our view, was not the original intent.  We are restating our position here not to re-open the debate but to serve as a reminder that all of the political leaders who participated in Raleigh declined to be members of CORDEG's Executive Committee which makes sense as well as representing a partial validation of our position.  When everything is said and done, political parties, by their very nature, have a singular mission of having its members elected into power, whereas civic organizations' missions vary from organization to organization depending on the sector of society or an issue or a set of issues they are out to champion.  We will continue to keep this truism within radar range as a reference point.

The mandate of CORDEG, as crafted by the Raleigh Process, was explicit i.e. "the crafting and representation of the Agenda for Democratic Change in The Gambia." To fulfill its mandate, CORDEG need to raise money to facilitate its work, but also must raise enough to finance any subsequent stage of the process going forward, including the financing of opposition political parties in their fight to uproot the dictatorship in The Gambia.

The size of CORDEG (about 25 or 26 members) spanning three continents and numerous time zones will undoubtedly prove to be a huge challenge for the organization, even in the age of Skype and Viber.  The election of the Executive was obviously CORDEG's response to the mammoth task the size of the group poses.  Managing a group as diverse, politically speaking, with different political hue and individual agendas, will be the single biggest challenge the new Executive Committee will face in fulfilling its mandate.

Although the nomination process adopted by CORDEG, and the subsequent elections that led to the installation of the new Executive Committee led by Dr. Abdoulaye Saine had raised questions in some quarters, it is only prudent at this point to lend full and unconditional support to Ablaye and his Team.   In moving forward, may we remind all that success will come only if the process is transparent and inclusive, particularly as it pertains to the entire membership of CORDEG who must feel to be part of the decision making process.

Finally, we draw solace in the fact that if there's someone who can resuscitate and breath life into Raleigh, it will be Dr. Saine.  We therefore wish him and his Team every success.