Monday, October 17, 2016

Fears of retribution as excuse for continued APRC support are without basis

As the coalition talks intensify among opposition parties for a unified leadership to contest the scheduled December presidential elections against the Gambian dictator, increasing chatter clutters the online media advancing all sorts of theories attributed to primarily supporters of the newly-formed Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) relating to what it would take for them to join and remain in an opposition coalition.

According to several sources, key members of the GDC have been quoted expressing concern in the event of a UDP-led opposition coalition victory over Jammeh and his ruling APRC.  They fear retribution in the event of a UDP-led win in December - a fear that has its origins in the anti-UDP propaganda machine of a dictatorship that has tried to exploit the delicate tribal balance to his advantage.  As part of his intricate plan to cling on to power, Jammeh unfairly and incorrectly labeled UDP a Mandinka party and proceeded to accuse its members, a good number of whom are non-Mamdinkas, of being tribalists who are driven more by the desire to exact revenge should the UDP ever gain political power.

The fear of retribution or settling of scores in the event of a UDP victory is without basis and runs contrary to the national character.  That said, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission or something along those lines must be established in addition to Judicial Commission to look into the crimes committed by Yaya Jammeh and members of his regime spanning the 22 years of the dictatorship unless Jammeh can reach a negotiated safe passage as part of a negotiated settlement package.

The general sense today is there must be justice for the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of victims of the regime to obtain closure for those who have been killed, maimed, tortured and those who have disappeared and still unaccounted for.  Families must have closure.

Because most, if not all, of GDC support base is presumed to be composed of disgruntled members of the APRC, reportedly disenchanted with Jammeh's style of leadership, they find solace in the Mamma Kandeh-led GDC who logged a 20-year stint in the National Assembly under the APRC banner before his expulsion from the party.  It appears, at least, some elements within the former APRC members in the GDC, are trying to associate a UDP-led opposition successor government to the inevitability of the settling of scores demanded by the accumulation of grudges during Jammeh's dictatorship despite the lack of evidence.

As we have stated in  previous blogs on the issue of tribalism and despite Jammeh accusing the UDP of being a tribal party, The Gambia is still one of the few countries where tribal affiliation plays little or no significant role, either in the daily lives of Gambians or their politics.  Of course, there are few odd balls - the crazy uncle syndrome - everywhere, and The Gambia is  no exception.   Jammeh is the exception.  He has adopted tribal politics and has used it, with minimal degree of success, to divide Gambians for the purposes of retaining power.

It is obvious that there are members of the APRC who are utilizing the tribal card in a futile attempt to divide an emboldened opposition both at home and abroad. Leaders of the GDC must be mindful of this fact and to guard against being used to advance a failed ARPC regime that is on its final death throes.

Our advise to Mamma Kandeh, Yusupha Jaiteh and the rest of the executive of the GDC is to hop on board the opposition train while it is still on the station.   Only a unified opposition can defeat Jammeh.