Friday, October 7, 2016

Failure to unite is not an option

Gambia's Opposition Leaders 
Failure to unite under a single leadership, this time around, to contest the scheduled December presidential elections is not an option for the leaders of the opposition because a  majority of Gambian voters and non-voters demand it.

With the ghosts of 2006 and 2011 still hovering above their heads, the opposition leaders cannot afford another disastrous outcome at a time when the stakes are higher than ever before.

The mishandling of the economy continues unabated under Jammeh, especially since the last presidential elections leaving a trail of dismal growth rates, the lowest average rates in decades). Unemployment remains high, and youth unemployment is at an all time high despite the massive exodus of the young towards Europe.  The human rights environment is increasingly getting more hostile for the general population as well as the political class.

As testimony to this  truism,  Solo Sandeng, youth leader and executive member of the UDP lost his life while under the custody of the National Intelligence Agency. As we speak, Ousainou Darboe, the titular leader of the UDP, together with the entire party executive committee members, together with dozens of other officials and supporters are presently serving three-year prison terms for simply exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest against what they saw as unfair laws.

22-years of one of Africa's most horrid dictatorship has taken its toll, not only on the rights of Gambians and the economy, but also on the international reputation of a once respected country, internationally, transforming the country into a pariah status.

We are not being hyperbolic when we say that The Gambia is on a slide down a slippery slope that threatens not only the security of the country but the region's security as well.   And as long as Jammeh stays in power, threats will become existential in nature.  Jammeh must, therefore, be peacefully removed  through the ballot which cannot be accomplished by any single political party.

All of the opposition parties must coalesce around a single standard bearer if there is s slither of a chance that he is defeated.  Our position has been no elections unless there is comprehensive electoral reform.  Realistically, this is not possible unless the elections are postponed for at least six months which is the precise length of time between amending the electoral laws and the elections as per ECOWAS protocol.  It is for this reason that we are supporting the efforts of the opposition parties at trying to forge an electoral alliance against Jammeh.

For the individual opposition parties leaders, they must step up to the plate, put their individual political interest aside in favor of the national interest by selecting the best candidate among themselves to lead them to the December presidential elections.  We will be addressing the much neglected but extremely important parliamentary elections which should form part of the negotiations at the appropriate time.