Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dr. Isatou Touray's unforced error could prove troublesome

Isatou Touray, Independent candidate 
Dr. Touray's acceptance speech as the Independent candidate for the December presidential elections may have won over some "no elections" die-hards along with a number of frustrated diasporians who have longed for a unified opposition alliance that, they hope, would end 22-years of Yaya Jammeh's dictatorship but it also caused consternation among the politically diverse group of opposition supporters abroad.

By mentioning a handful of Gambians residing abroad, namely in the United States and Europe, by name, the newest candidate for president inadvertently stirred up a dust storm of unsubstantiated allegations.

Claims of supporters nefariously positioning themselves, and behind-the-scene skulduggery abound, feeding the social media frenzy as if such maneuvers are unusual in political campaigns. They may not be under normal circumstances but Gambians are not living in normal times.

Those external endorsers of Dr. Touray who were thanked in her speech became immediately the focus of attention at the expense of the message of unity among the opposition and her program of action should she be elected in December.

The mere mention of half a dozen names has exposed the raw nerve endings of supporters and opponents of the Independent candidate who have been emotionally exhausted, individually and collectively, as a result of many years of failure in their search for a unifying candidate.  And as soon as they thought they had found a promising candidate, their hopes were dampened - not dashed, in our view - by what some saw as favoritism coming from Dr. Touray who is being billed as the missing bridge connecting all the opposition parties.

There is certainly nothing wrong with extending gratitude to supporters who went the extra mile that distinguishes them from the rank and file but be certain that it can result in bruised ego and in hostility that any campaign can least afford, especially when your opponent is an incumbent named Yaya Jammeh.

In fact, according to sources, the same evening Jammeh watched the video of the ceremonies, he started falsely labeling known supporters of Dr. Touray as traitors who tried to topple his regime in 2014, and wondered why Gambians should entrust the future of the country in their hands.  Rough waters are ahead.

Plucking folks from the diaspora lineup and giving them special mention was, in our view, an unforced error that should have been avoided. As a result, it is proving to be troublesome, at least in the online Gambian community, because it is distracting from discussing issues outlined in Dr. Isatou Touray's Manifsto.

Perhaps expressing appreciation for their efforts could have been handled outside the formal Acceptance Speech to avoid the unnecessary rancor it had generated within the ranks of the opposition in the diaspora.  If the website version is an admission of error in judgement, we will chalk it as that and move on.

The Gambia Democratic Congress is not without its media problems.  We will be taking a look at what they are and how to avoid the avoidable in subsequent posts.