Saturday, March 2, 2024

Barrow and Darboe Owe Gambians Peace and Development

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By Christian Conteh

President Adama Barrow and opposition strongman Ousainou Darboe both owe Gambians peace and development.

Yes, you heard me right! both the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) leader and the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) leader must work hand in gloves if The Gambia must develop. After all, Barrow always says they are father and son.

President Adama Barrow comfortably won re-election on 4th December snatching about 53% of the votes cast in the process.

Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party, won about 28% of the votes cast, followed by third-place Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress with about 12%.

The crumbs on the table were left for Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), Abdoulie Jammeh of the National Unity Party (NUP), and Essa Faal (independent) each taking home 5% of the national vote.

Public opinion and surveys conducted before the 4th December polls reflected clearly in the election outcome, this means to a large extent the results were not a surprise to many citizens.

Although opposition parties led by the UDP initially rejected the election results many later realised the denial and rejection may just be an exercise in futility.

The UDP led the way, seeking the Supreme Courts intervention in declaring the Barrow victory null and void due to elections irregularities, a claim which the party strongly believed was true.

Ultimately after looking into the merits of the matter the case was thrown out of court for UDPs failure to follow due process. Barrow’s victory was maintained and a cost of D100,000 was awarded to the President-elect.

International election observers from ECOWAS, AU and Commonwealth, including local observers, all described the election process as free, fair, credible and transparent.

Barrows win greatly diminishes the relevance of his predecessor Yahya Jammeh in the country’s political landscape.

This win brings with it many questions and demands including the need for a new liberal and democratic constitution, the implementation of the report by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and the repealing of repressive laws many of colonial origin used by Jammeh during his 22-year hegemony.

President Barrow has promised a new constitution before the end of his recently renewed five years and has made several statements expressing commitment to the implementation of the recommendations of the TRRC Report

The Barrow Victory, What does it Mean?

One of President Barrow’s most controversial decisions before the December 4th election was his initial alliance with the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC)

Many victims of the Jammeh brutality considered this a betrayal of trust. Coincidentally or luckily Jammeh himself denounced the alliance and called for his APRC members to support Mama Kandeh and his Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC).

Upon the president’s victory, it could now be seen that there is no love lost between him (Barrow) and Jammeh. Many who feared Jammeh would return to the Gambia are now at ease.

The president has committed to a new democratic constitution which would clearly state a presidential term limit, the implementation of the TRRC report and uphold the tenets of democratic good governance

What’s Next On The Political Stage?

Barrow is expected to continue his development strides, paying more attention to infrastructural development and building democratic institutions.

UDP Leader Ousainu Darboe is in his 70s and is expected to take a deserved rest. But without a pronounced successor, many believe the party will struggle to present anyone who matches his popularity in 2026.

Abdoulie Jammeh and Essa Faal are both in their 50s, but their abysmal performance in the recently concluded polls question their long-term political prospects.

Mama Kandeh also in his late 50s is sure to have another go at the presidency.

Veteran politician Halifa Sallah is in his late 60s and has officially announced that he has retired from running for public office. He seems to have found a young man in the person of Alhaji Mamadi Kurang who may succeed him, but not without a fight.

Overall, as things stand, Barrow may not have a serious political contender in the near future. Non-the-less things are bound to drastically change in the next five years. All we can do is wait and see.

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