The political scene in the Gambia is currently in full swing with the unveiling of various presidential candidates in recent months and weeks for the forthcoming December presidential election. First, it was Mama Kandeh who launched a political party called Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) back in April to join the long list of existing political parties in the Gambia. Mr Kandeh 51, was an APRC National Assembly Member for Jimara constituency, but was expelled from the party in 2013.
There comes the history maker Dr Isatou Touray, who became the first female presidential candidate in the history of the Gambia. Dr Touray’s candidature is one of the most important development in the political scene of the country since 1994. Just as President Obama described Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention in July, I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Dr Isatou Touray to serve as president of the Gambia.
She has dedicated her entire life serving the nation, even attracting the wrath of Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh at some point in her duty. However, she has not blink nor has she back down, but continued to carry on serving humanity.
Meanwhile, even though Jammeh’s political party, the APRC and that of the UDP are of the same age, however, something fundamental has changed in the UDP on Thursday 1st Sept, 2016. For the first time in its 21 years of existence, the UDP have unveiled a new party leader this Thursday by the name Mr Adama Barrow.
Mr Barrow’s leadership came amidst the 3 years illegal imprisonment of the former leader of the UDP Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. However, the change in UDP leadership was inevitable as Mr Darboe has passed the legal age limit of 65 allowed by the constitution of the Gambia for anyone to contest the presidential election. This contentious clause in the constitution was part of the reason why Solo Sandeng and Co took to the streets to protest for electoral reforms which resulted in his arrest and torture to death by Jammeh’s security personnel.
As for Mr Adama Barrow the new UDP leader, he is 51 and a businessman, he hails from Mankamang Kunda, in the Jimara constituency of URR. He was the Deputy Treasurer of the UDP until his appointment as the party leader. Mr Barrow once contested a parliamentary election against the then APRC candidate, Mr Mama Kandeh of GDC and Mr Kandeh was the victor then.
Meanwhile, all these new political developments are welcome because the more voices we have in the political field the better for our democracy. However, with Gambia at a cross road, the question majority of the electorates will ask is, are we ready to change the status quo with all these opposition parties in play? And frankly, the answer is NO!
With electoral reform not achieved, the only possible way to defeat Dictator Yahya Jammeh at the polls is a unify opposition candidate. The oppositions have to come together and put all personal and party agendas aside and select one candidate for all of them to rally behind and stand against Jammeh in December. Without this, the election will only serve to legitimise Jammeh’s dictatorship, but he will not be defeated come December.
Fortunately, it’s not a rocket science for anyone to know that the more opposition parties you have contesting election in a simple majority electoral system, the better for the incumbent as he/she only needs to have one vote more than the closest candidate to win the election. And with Jammeh in power for 22 years, coupled with all the financial, media and human resources available to him, including the 1.5 million marble tokens secretly donated to Jammeh by Taiwan in 2002, Yahya Jammeh is the only winner without a united front against him.
As for the opposition coalition, if there is going to be one, my nominee will certainly be Dr Isatou Touray, for she is the most qualified among the rest. And we have had men ruling us for more than 5 decades without much progress, it will be wise to change to a female leader and not just any female leader but the most qualified among the lot.