Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Adama Barrow: The new leader of the 7- party coalition

Hon. Adama Barrow, Flag bearer of Coalition of opposition parties
Hon. Adama Barrow, the leader of the United Democratic Party, has been selected at a 7- party Convention held over the weekend at the Kairaba Beach Hotel to be the official flag bearer of the opposition in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 1st December.

A total of 490 delegates from all the seven administrative regions of the country representing all of the registered opposition parties and allocated 70 delegates each.

The Independent candidate who is without party affiliation did not attend and neither did her 70 delegates.  The party that would have made it the 8th to take part in the selection process opted not to take part. Circumstances leading to the non-participation of these two entities remain unclear.

The 51-year old real estate businessman hails from Jimara Constituency in the easternmost part (URR) of the Gambia.  Although Mr. Barrow has been in politics since 1997, he still suffers from a deficit of national name recognition which is one of his primary task of introducing himself with barely a month to go to elections, as leader of the Coalition of the seven opposition parties.

The challenges Mr Barrow face extend beyond overcoming name recognition to include convincing those voters who have abandoned the ruling APRC party that he is worthy of their support while holding on to the supporters of the other opposition parties whose leaders failed to secure the top job.

The meteoric rise of a relatively unknown politician to lead a coalition of political parties, three of which are headed by some of Gambia's seasoned and experienced politicians with public policy chops, has its obvious drawbacks.  However these drawbacks (lack of public policy experience etc.) can be compensated by taking advantage of the presence of the best and most experienced politician and public policy expertise the Coalition membership has on offer.

For Mr. Barrow to be successful, both as the flag bearer of the Coalition of Opposition Parties and, hopefully, as President of a Jammeh-less Gambia, he must have the ability to build a big tent that can comfortably accommodate all the members of the Coalition.

It should not only stop at that.  The others who are currently out of the tent must be actively courted with the view to bringing them into the fold in spite of current utterances on social media and elsewhere.  We need both Mama Kandeh and Isatou Touray.  I am, therefore, appealing to all of you to create a rancor-free environment as a necessary condition to make it possible to bring them into the fold.  I hope we will continue to exercise restraint in our comments and refrain from insults while we engage them in discussions.