I have been following and analyzing the views and positions of the various parties and their surrogates as well as the generality of Gambians about the state of affairs in the country and how best to address the deplorable situation in the Gambia. The more I analyze these views in order to understand your positions, I constantly get to the point that indeed there is something missing in your positions and views. I have come to realize that for most times, the arguments are premised on the assumption that the country is in a normal situation, politically. Yet this is wrong, and I know the parties also know that we are not in a normal situation even though they have not been able to respond to that fact accordingly, so far. What most people do not realize is that the very reason we are speaking about a coalition even before the election starts is because by law and practice, the environment is fundamentally flawed against the opposition, change and progress. That is only the critical missing link in the opposition arguments. They continue to skip this point, knowingly or unknowingly hence your inability to bring about unity within your camp for the past decade and more. Yet I strongly believe the opposition have the capacity to unite but you are not fully utilizing that potential.
We must remember that the opposition are weak and highly disadvantaged today mainly because of the undemocratic electoral laws and the unconstitutional practices of the incumbent to give itself undue advantage. It is precisely because of this situation that the opposition and indeed all Gambians felt that inevitably there needs to be a coalition even before we get to the election if there is going to be change. Failure to form a coalition behind a single candidate, but going ahead to field multiple candidates then the opposition are defeated even before the election starts. This fact must not be lost on anyone seriously concerned about the state of affairs in the Gambia. Secondly, I wish to beg these parties and their surrogates not to ever downplay the value of history. We are in this unfortunate situation at the national level as well as within the opposition simply because there was history to the how and why we decided and acted this way or that way over the years. Hence when we arrive at this moment we cannot but refer to history to make us understand why we are in this present moment and then use that history to guide us to the future.
So yes, we must refer to the various attempts and efforts by the opposition to bring about a coalition in order to bring about democratic change in the Gambia. While we applaud their efforts and initiatives, yet the history is incontestable that regardless of the reasons, the opposition have been unable to do so. If we wish the opposition could try once more. But what we have to bear in mind is that every time the opposition fails (and most likely it will again) and so long as the Gambia continues in this state of affairs we are also correspondingly pushing the country towards a conflagration. Again the facts are very clear in our history. In 1996, 1997 and 2014 we had armed citizens attack the country because of their desire to remove the government which they claim is undemocratic and oppressive. Just few weeks ago the head office of the APRC was firebombed. We have had many Gambians at home and abroad publicly declare their intention to use armed violence to remove the regime. We have also seen the increasing shrinking of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country as the regime clamps down on the opposition and dissent. The numbers of Gambians facing arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, enforced disappearances and killings continues to increase. More than anyone else, it is Foroyaa that continues to do the good job in exposing these violations and atrocities better to the world in its periodic ‘Detention Without Trial and Disappearance Without Trace’. We have a president who has used violent language against almost all sections of our country including declaring the Gambia an Islamic State contrary to our constitution and so many uncountable undemocratic actions. If these incidents and trends do not raise the alarm for any Gambian, then something is fundamentally wrong with Gambians.
Therefore any Gambian who is indeed sober must be aware that this country is heading towards a violent disintegration if this regime continues on the path that it has been for the past 22 years. The question therefore you and I need to raise is that should we allow that to happen or should we use all possible means to avert violent conflict in our dear motherland? For me, we should use all possible means even if that means more compromise, more sacrifice, or total abandonment of our positions or complete withdrawal just to give chance to national salvation.
Since the electoral laws where changed more than 10 years ago thereby creating the necessity for a coalition before elections, the opposition parties somehow have been unable to create one. NADD was an immense opportunity that was lost just like that. Each and every political party could give its version of the story and this debate can go unendingly yet it serves us no progress. We can continue to try coalescing and still no results produced. In light of this fact, I am of the view that the parties must be humble and honest to themselves to accept their inability to coalesce, not because they do not love the country but because they just have deep and uncompromising differences in opinion about methodology. In view of that, is it not therefore reasonable that if some credible citizen in the caliber of Isatou Touray emerges that all the parties say Alhamdulillah, Thank Jesus, wonderful, here is a way out for us to save our country.
Since the fine lady wants to spend only 5 years in power, then the parties must be excited that soon they will come back to the playing field and fight it out among themselves in an environment that will be so clean because they will be the very ones to clean up that environment themselves as members of Isatou’s transitional or unity government. Now if we refuse to do that, I think we will see multiple candidates in this election which can only return Jammeh to power. If that happens, then anything that happens to and in the Gambia from January 2017, we should put the responsibility squarely at the feet of the opposition. The hard truth has to be told.
Our opposition must realize that they are not involved in a competition in a casino or in the Olympics. Rather they are engaged with the soul and future of their people hence all allegiance must be to the deepest aspirations of the people first and foremost, and not to the interests of their parties and leaders. The average Gambian wants to see a coalition in place to free the country. Forming a coalition behind Dr. Isatou Touray as the single opposition flag bearer is not going to disempower or kill any party in anyway. Rather it offers immense opportunity to the parties to rejuvenate and breath fresh air as we remove the country from the clutches of tyranny and usher in a democratic third republic. What better environment could the opposition ask for?
I would therefore implore all the opposition parties, their leaders and supporters and surrogates to step back for a moment and look at the particular situation of the country in order to understand the pitfalls that could happen if we make yet again another slightest mistake. I am definitely saddened that our parties and leaders and their surrogates continue to be deeply and exclusively partisan in the face of the fact that the house is on fire. Putting forward logical or mathematical arguments will not get us to the desired conclusion and solution. We need to go beyond the maths and logic and bring in a lot of compassion and wisdom to help ourselves. And the wisdom is while Isatou will hold the flag but it is the parties that will lead from behind her to carry the nation to the promised land. Thus in essence, an Isatou Touray victory is the victory of GDC, GMC, GPDP, NDAM, NCP, NRP, PDOIS, PPP and UDP.
I wish all the opposition parties will give these ideas of mine the due attention it deserves. Sorry for so long a letter but for the sake of the Gambia I think it is necessary we are absolutely clear regardless of the length of the message. Thank you
Yours in the Service of the Gambia