Sunday, October 30, 2016

Gambia's Major Opposition Parties In Convention to Elect Alliance Flagbearer

Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yayah A. J. Jammeh
The major political parties in the small West African state of The Gambia have taken the unprecedented step of holding a convention today at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul, to determine a single alliance candidate who will  face Gambia's long term leader his Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa in Presidential Elections slated for December 1st 2016. The Gambia President is renowned for his anti-western stance, his claim to have the cure for HIV AIDS, Asthma and a host of other ailments and his strong opposition to homosexuality.
Hamat Bah

President Yahya Jammeh has ruled the small country of about a million people since July 22nd 1994 when as a young military officer he overthrew the country's long post independent leader Sir Dauda Kairaba Jawara in a bloodless coup. Sir Dauda had been the sole leader of the country since independence from British colonial rule and had presided over a long period of political stability. Gambia is a small country of very friendly people and a major tourist destination in West Africa. It's main sources of revenue are tourism and groundnut production. Remittances from Gambians living abroad also contribute significantly to the country's revenue. Gambia has a large population in America and Europe, many of whom left the country for political and economic reasons.
Halifa Sallah

As a young leader in 1994, the Gambian leader started with one of the most progressive agendas in the West African region. He rebuilt the country's international airport, established the first national university, built hospitals in the rural areas, built junior and secondary schools in many rural areas of the country, and built such monuments as the Arch 22 leading to the capital Banjul. He also made significant improvements to the country's road network. After a brief period of military rule, Jammeh restored the country to multiparty democracy, formed his own political party and has comprehensively won every election ever since.
Adama Barrow

Yahya Jammeh has however been criticized for his strong arm tactics, especially against the country's fractious opposition. Recently the leader of the country's largest opposition party Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, was jailed for about three years, together with some members of the opposition for holding public demonstrations in the capital. Journalists have also complained of political persecution, starting with the assassination of a prominent veteran journalist. Many journalists have faced arrests and detention in The Gambia and many have fled the country, some becomimg political activists in exile.

The Gambia leader, under pressure from the International community, especially the west, for his record on human rights, withdrew a few years ago from the Commonwealth of Nations, labeling the organization a symbol of colonial repression. Just this week, Yahya Jammeh joined the slow trickle of African leaders who have withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which they complain is focused only on the prosecution of African political leaders. 
Dr. Lamin Bojang

Roughly a year or two ago, Jammeh survived an attempt by a group of Gambians living overseas to overthrow his government while he was out of the country. The attempt was quickly quashed by security forces loyal to him. Since then he has further tightened his grip on all the security apparatus in the country.

Yahya has faced strong opposition to his rule from within the country since he came to power, but the opposition has been divided, with political parties based largely on regional and ethnic lines. Jammeh has handily won every single election. However for this year's election slated for December 1st, about five of the main political parties have formed an alliance to have a single candidate, with 419 delegates voting to elect one standard flagbearer for the united opposition. The winning candidate will be the first to get the support of 245 of the voting delegates. There could be several rounds of voting until a candidate gets the 245 number. 

It will remains to be seen whether the alliance members will stick with the agreement once a consensus candidate is chosen, as many such plans have failed in the past to yield dividend.  In the past, people have shown more devotion to their political parties, more which are ethnic based, rather than to a united opposition. Two minor opposition parties decided not to join the alliance. However, all the members of the historic opposition are represented. The four candidates include Hamat Bah of the NRP, Halifa Sallah of PDOIS, Adama Barrow of UDP and Dr. Lamin Bojang of the NCP. The only female candidate Dr. Isatou Touray did not participate in today's alliance vote.

The results will be published as soon as the voting ends.

No comments: