By Lamin Gano
An interesting point being currently debated on Gambian political issues is which group of voters are the majority in the country. This blog is my reflection on this important topic.
In all of our four previous elections (I can’t remember the rest as I was a minor), there were broadly two voting groups in The Gambia: those who voted for Jammeh and those who voted for the opposition. And as we all know in the previous presidential elections, 72% voted for Jammeh and 28% for the combined opposition.
My analysis is that for this year’s presidential elections, there will be three voting groups in The Gambia. The first group is the traditionally hardcore opposition group (28%) who has never voted for Jammeh and will never vote for him; the second group is the hard core APRC loyalist who would vote for Jammeh at all cost come rain, shine, tsunamis or tornadoes; and the new third group is the cross-carpeting or break-away former supporters of the APRC who are so disillusioned and fed-up with Jammeh that they are determined not to vote for him this year.
My assessment is that not more than 30% (out of the 72% of the APRC support base) will vote for Jammeh this year which means that there is at least 42% of former APRC votes out there for the grabs. In this regard, the majority voting group in this year’s elections is neither the hardcore APRC (30%) nor the traditional opposition block (28%) but the run-aways APRC former stalwarts (42%). And no one should underestimate the influence and significance of this group who are also the pillars of our security and civil services who are the engine of the country.
In a recent interview, Mama Kandeh said that he is not a threat to the traditional opposition parties as he is not targeting their votes but instead he is going after the APRC voters. In my opinion, while it is possible that the 42% of APRC cross-carpeters may all affiliate themselves with just one opposition party such as the GDC, there is also a possibility that they could spread their loyalties and votes across the various parties. This is the main reason why I am still advocating for a coalition to ensure that this possibility does not arise which could give Jammeh a narrow victory base on the simple majority clause in our perverted electoral laws.
Another reason why it is also important to form an opposition alliance is that there is still a rare possibility that Jammeh may smell the rat here and quickly re-introduce the second round of voting by restoring the clause that a candidate will need more than 50% of the votes to win. Forming a coalition will serve as a preemptive strike against this possibility.
In conclusion, I fervently hope and pray that common sense and justice will prevail in the courts next week for the release of the entire UDP leadership and supporters. I also pray that our opposition leaders will see the wisdom and rationale of political unity so that Gambia will achieve a peaceful political transition this year. Long live the Republic of The Gambia, long live the peace, security and peaceful co-existence among our people!!!