Friday, July 15, 2016

Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) : The new kid on the block

GDC Leadership 
A great deal has already been said about Gambia's newest political party, the Gambia Democratic Congress and its leader, Mama Kandeh, since busting into the scene with such force and so little notice that it has left many wondering what has hit them.

The reactions range from wonderment at the organizational skills on display by virtue of the huge crowds GDC attracted, to the audible skepticism dominated by questions about who is really behind Mama Kandeh and the GDC.  There's merit to the concerns which must be addressed by the party leadership and debated intelligently and maturely with facts and not insinuations that are without basis in fact.

The crowd sizes were huge by any measure throughout the tour, including Sibanorr (at the heart of the Fonis) and made up of mixture of supporters, prospective supporters and the ever reliable curiosity seekers.  GDC would, of course, like you to believe that most, if not all, of those in the crowd were supporters because the notion advances its political agenda that makes good propaganda sense.  The large crowds will also give Jammeh sleepless nights as he watches his support slips through his nibble fingers.

Whatever the reason GDC ascribes to the large crowds, the scenes were impressive enough to jolt the APRC and other opposition party supporters into action by taking to the Standard newspaper, the online airwaves and Facebook to denounce Mama Kandeh and GDC - some of the denunciations were without basis.  That Jammeh is the sponsor of GDC is still unsubstantiated and neither is the accusation that it is tribal.  Because Jammeh heads the APRC does not necessarily make it a Jola party or the UDP a Mandinka party because Ousainou Darboe is a Mandinka.

The closest the critics have come to making a valid point is in questioning the timing of the launching of the party that has come in the midst of a debate as to whether the opposition should go to elections without electoral reforms among other contentious issues being addressed.  In the ECOWAS Communique following the June 4th 2016 Dakar Summit, the fact that the Authority encouraged the regime of Yaya Jammeh and the National Assembly "to initiate the requisite reforms for the conduct of inclusive, free and credible elections" and "called for the...government and the opposition to engage in a frank dialogue..,and encouraged the IEC to prepare a Road Map for approval by all the stakeholders of the electoral process."  Former President Obasanjo of Nigeria was certainly not in Banjul for leisure.  Electoral reform is serious business and thus must be taken seriously.

It is our view that these and related issues are better handled at the Inter-Party Committee (IPC) level or alternatively at an Intra-Opposition Party Committee level where the GDC will have a seat at the table as a co-equal partner to thrash out matters of common interest.  We hope the opposition parties who attended yesterday's IPC meeting at the IEC made a case for the inclusion of the GDC as a member of the IPC which, we learned, ended acrimoniously suggesting the rocky road ahead of any elections.  We encourage gestures of inclusivity and not acrimony as a sign of political maturity that will go towards the consolidation of a fragmented opposition.  Extending a welcoming arm beats throwing rocks at the new kid on the block, every time.