Every election cycle the opposition is confronted with the same challenge: how do they give an effective challenge to the incumbent in the absence of an alliance? Unfortunately, they have never been able to put their differences aside and come up with the alliance strategy that people have demanded, which resulted in losing the last three elections and the continuation of dictatorship in the Gambia. In the process, the opposition parties relationship have suffered in the trust department, and their most vocal supporters in the Diaspora have given up in the electoral process as a vehicle to bring an end to tyranny in the Gambia. As a consistent advocate for the utilization of the electoral route to effect change, in my last write up I have raised the possibility of whether the biggest party-UDP has what it takes to go it alone. In that same vein, knowing the situation we are in 2016: the age disqualification of the UDP most electable leader, should we not look at the presidential candidate from PDOIS for the answer to take on the APRC party to effect change?
The APRC party under Jammeh is at its weakest, and it is also no secret that Gambians have given up on them. The issue lies in what the alternative are going to offer. Are the opposition parties going to pursue the same losing strategy of going it alone, which evidently will lead to voter apathy and the reelection of the APRC; or for once forge an alliance that will be seen as a credible force that can defeat the incumbent. It is also important to realize that the removal of Jammeh and the APRC regime is indeed a big step in our quest to bring democracy, but the mere replacing of Jammeh does not guarantee that for once the Gambia will build the needed foundation for democracy and rule of law. We as a people can replace tyranny, and in the process also build the much needed institutions of democracy, so that we do not have to fight it again in the future. There is absolutely no doubt that Halifa’s candidacy can give us the alliance for an all opposition party in a transitional frame work, and guarantee us the chance to make the amendments necessary during a transitional unity Government, which will result to the building blocks of a genuine democracy. Having work in the effort to bring an alliance of all the parties in the last several years, I am well aware of the difficulty of bringing all the opposition parties behind PDOIS’s leader Halifa as the alliance leader.
PDOIS is one of the oldest parties, and has never been able to garner more than five percent of the vote, which goes to the heart of the issue of electability. In addition, there is a perception that PDOIS has not been very supportive or flexible in regards to, for instance, opened to supporting the UDP’s party leader, who in the past has demonstrated the most electable among the opposition parties. Clearly, the aforementioned history makes it difficult to convince the most needed party-UDP to overlook what happen in the past, and take the lead in supporting PDOIS and Halifa’s candidacy as a short term strategy to effect change. However, a solid agreement should be looked at by all the opposition parties, especially the UDP. For instance, central to this agreement could be the following: a one year transitional Govt. that will only focus on constitutional changes, like term limits and programs and changes that will sanitized the twenty one year nightmare that Gambia and Gambians have endured; calling for a multi-party elections that the transitional leader will not participate; and the creation of an independent judiciary and independent election commission that would forever give Gambians the power to effect change and the protection of citizen’s rights.. If there is one party and leader that would keep his word to any agreement sign onto would be Halifa Sallah.
It would be very easy to dismiss the above plan, or even come up with other plans that could be equally effective in defeating Jammeh. But, it is also a fact that if the UDP and PPP were to back the candidacy of Halifa Sallah, this will give it a credible alliance that can bring people to the polls, and most importantly the surest way of creation of the building blocks of a genuine democracy. In conclusion, it is going to take an alliance of the main opposition parties, and the reliance of a party that would keep its word to any agreement, for the Gambia to have a genuine chance to effect change and the building blocks of the institutions of democracy. For the majority of us, maybe it will have to take holding our noses to do it. If I may borrow a quotation from Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina and former presidential candidate for the Republican party: “asking me to support either Trump or Ted Cruz come down to taking poison or getting shot, either way you end up dead”. Now, that same Linsey understands the dynamics of the race and has finally decided reluctantly that he does not care for Cruz, but is prepared to do whatever it takes to support him in order to save the Republican Party. We as a people should do whatever it takes to save our homeland.