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The Spotlight: Scramble for the Gambia 2016; Part IV

By Yero Jallow

“As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill,” – Helen Keller, America’s Blind Educator.

We are not far from December 1st 2016. That is the day Gambians will go to the polls to vote a leader to represent them for five years as stipulated in the constitution. So if no other change of power in the Gambia now against December 2nd 2016, Gambians are likely to see a leader legitimized in the much talked about Presidential elections. Whether or not there will be voter apathy, rigging, intimidation by Jammeh’s machinery, and the long list of possible ways that will result in favor of Jammeh, someone will emerge legitimized by the elections.


So far, the following leaders are chosen by their own party supporters to be likely contestants for the presidency; Yaya Jammeh of the APRC, Adama Barrow of the UDP, Halifa Sallah of PDOIS, Hamat Bah of NRP,  Mama Kandeh of the GDC, and Isatou Touray of the Independent. Out of well deserved courtesy, let us mention Lamin Waa Juwara of NDAM, Mai Fatty of the GMC, Bolong Bojang of the NCP, Henry Gomez of the GPDP, and Pabi Joof of the Independent. With the exception of Lamin Waa Juwara who recently declared his support for Isatou Touray, it is not clear if any of the latter group on courtesy, will in fact field candidatures in the 2016 Presidential elections.


What is known so far is that Halifa Sallah and the PDOIS party initiated a call for all the opposition to meet for a possible merger. Updates were that some party leaders were absent in the first meeting. The second scheduled meeting suffered setback because the EU visited the Gambia and needed to engage the political leaders. It is not clear when the next meeting will be. There is an opportunity for a single leader to emerge. It is only possible when the key players all agree to meet sincerely, and here is how Sidi Sanneh interestingly put it on his usual Face book engagements on 9/22/2016, “When I asked someone close to the inter-opposition party negotiations to rate the chances of a successful outcome on a scale of 1 to 10, the person gave it a 3 but was quick to add that by the end of the second or third round of meetings, the rating will go to a 7. The conversation confirms our fears that progress promises to be slow and if we continue to degrade opposition leaders and to cut them down at the knees while talks are in progress, we can kiss a unified opposition good bye. Maybe that's the outcome some of us are really hoping for.”


With the elections, it is possible to check and end Jammeh’s ill-conceived motives, tyranny and greed for power. I know of only two political ways to do this and I hate to bring the third. One, it is an open secret that the Gambia is sitting on a ticking time-bomb on the verge of explosion, as there is no guarantee that a repeat of December 30-styled struggle will not surface through internal or external forces, as an inevitable way of solving the political equation. Two, the opposition parties can agree on a single candidate and take opportunity of Jammeh’s criminality and unpopularity. Let us focus on the latter, as that is at least what is before the nation, with less than 70 days to face its D-day.


We have talked about the fool’s theory. It means doing the same thing over repeatedly and expecting a different result. That will not happen. This year’s elections will not be won by the opposition if there is any slight division. As repeat of history, it is possible to have different factions corner themselves in guerrilla-style political aggression, spewing division, tribal sentiments, glamorizing in fantasy shows, and thinking that is where the election’s palace key is. Come on, we all know better!  Again, if we sit on our conscience, even if the election fever already hit the oblongata; we damn know the calculus of the elections will not be right that way. The past miscarriages should have offered a fresh page, some lessons to learn, and give a sense of direction. Unfortunately, it is either much wasn’t absorbed, or others are benefitting from the political show. Of late, even Jammeh’s disciples are saving their warrior reservoirs, because there are others doing their dirty job of ripping and tearing. Such ripping and tearing is just a repeat of the past, nothing new really.



TBC; please read subsequent series on Gainako and Maafanta.




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