By Makam Sowe
As a supporter of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), I would like to make a disclaimer that this article does not in any way represent the position of the GDC, but mine and mine only.
First of all, I would to take this opportunity and congratulate Mr. Adama Barrow for being chosen as The United Democratic Party (UDP) flag bearer and Dr. Isatou Touray for launching her independent candidacy for the Presidency. I reiterate my call on the state to release Lawyer Ousainou ANM Darboe and his colleagues from custody. Lawyer Darboe is an outstanding citizen who has contributed immensely to the well- being of our country and more importantly, he has not committed any crime to warrant him spending a single second in that jailhouse. He should therefore be released to go home to his family and friends.
The reason for this article is to dissect the political situation and how best we can bring about the much needed alliance that can finally free our country from the clutches of tyranny. It is without a doubt, the entrance of Hon. Mamma Kandeh of the GDC and Dr. Isatou Touray that has revitalized our hope that once again, we are capable of ending the dictatorship through the ballot box.
I believe that elections are the best and surest way of ending Jammeh’s 22 years of misrule. There is no other option that is viable at this moment in Jammeh’s Presidency. After 22 years, he has succeeded in eliminating all potential threats of army mutiny to bring his government down. There is no single institution, civil society or political party that is going out on the streets to force him out, absent of a stolen or rigged elections. Senegal or any other country out there is not going to force him out because we don’t want to go elections with him. Remember, Gambia is a sovereign country and our borders are protected by international law. Again, Senegal is also not going to allow an insurgency to be waged from their territory against the Gambia however terrible the government in place in Gambia happens to be.
I have chosen the election route because I am convinced we can do it if we come together. With regards to Dr. Isatou Touray, I believe she is very qualified and experienced enough to run our country well, but that alone or being the darling of the Diaspora pundits is not enough to guarantee victory. Political parties are built on the grass roots and they do or die depending on their support on the home turf. I like her very much myself, and if the political parties back home choose her to lead them in a coalition, I will be happy to give her my support as well.
But before we gamble on her electability or otherwise, my advice to her and her supporters is for her to conduct a national tour like the UDP, GDC and all the other political parties have been doing. It is in that case, we can be able to gauge her support on the ground and know what base she has been able to create. What I always say is for any political party or individual to succeed in politics, you need a tangible support base first (Both UDP and GDC have that) and then expand beyond your base to be able to win a general election. Since we don’t have opinion polls in The Gambia, our best option is for her to go and meet the people and see the enthusiasm she brings to the table. Then we can have an idea what her support level looks like among the voters. After that is done, the discussion starts in earnest and we see among the candidates we have who is capable of building a winning coalition and free our country once and for all. In the absence of that, I remain skeptical as to her ability to win or bring about a coalition that she can lead to victory. Just being a woman or being highly educated and experienced does not guarantee you the keys to the state house. Those who understand Senegalese politics well know who Issata Tall Sall of the PS is. Nobody can be more charismatic or popular than her and she has a lot of experience but these never translate to anything meaningful in the polls.
In the meantime, I urge the UDP, GDC, PDOIS, NRP and Dr. Isatou Touray to continue the dialogue among themselves. And I am confident we will reach a common ground. My understanding is that Dr. Touray has in fact been doing just that and she met Hon. Kandeh few days ago and I have no doubt they had a good discussion. May God help the Gambia and may God protect the Gambian people in their quest to regain the dignity that they have lost in the last 22 years. Thank you.