GAMB0001The Improbable Political Convention

The long-awaited coalition of the willing is upon us. This coming Sunday 8 political parties (NCP, NRP, PDOIS, UDP, GMC, GDPD, PPP, Independent Party) will contest in a convention for the flagbearership of the united opposition coalition against the cruelest and most brutal dictatorship in the African continent. First time in the history of the Gambia and perhaps Africa, different political parties decided to come together to form a coalition to do the unthinkable – select a single candidate to challenge Jammeh. Convention as practiced in the United States and many other parts of the world, in general, happens within a political party not by different political parties contesting against each other.

The idea of a convention even though new has been in the political discourse in the Gambia since the failed alliance of NADD (National Alliance for Democracy and development). Mr. Sallah, a sociologist, activist, and politician, who this time around, out of luck or magic secured a niche in the political discourse with flying colors, introduced this idea. What is different this time though is the fact that Mr. Sallah was able to successfully defend his position by convincing his fellow politicians that the only way to salvage the country is through a unified opposition coalition by experimenting the national convention ideology. After all, politics is an art of convincing and manipulating opponents into submission. Although the $800,000 budgeted for this convention is preposterous and unnecessary, that could have been used during the campaign. It would have been better if PDOIS contributes a significant portion of this amount. I believe PDOIS is the only political party with a strong financial basis to foot the bill. I can only hope that PDOIS will willingly pay the larger portion of the bill even when none of the other parties asked them to do so.

Thus, Mr. Sallah has matriculated with a distinction for pulling this monumental task through. With luck and efforts on their side and if this convention happens to be successful, the Gambian opposition political parties would have achieved a milestone in their mastery of the art of negotiation. And rightfully so, for these politicians to forgo their personal interest for the benefit of the majority, they must be commended without any qualms or reservations and the Gambian people should support them 100 percent. The time for loud mouthing is over, now is the time for action, for selfless sacrifice through contributing our resource to help the foot soldiers on the ground fighting for the final liberation of our country.

However, since a change of government through a democratic process is unknown or new to us, many pundits, surrogates and prophets of doom embraced the idea of a coalition talk with skepticism. Now, with this convention most likely becoming a sure thing. Would those talking heads gracefully bury their heads in the sand to confess their sins for losing hope in the democratic dispensation or would they start another campaign to discredit the process if the winner happens to be a person they do not support? Time will tell!

Nevertheless, the winners of this process no matter who the agreed flagbearer is would be Mr. Sallah UDP and the NRP. Only because Mr. Sallah proposed the idea while NRP and the UDP decided to accept it out of love for the country even though on the face of it, it does not sound feasible. I am an optimist, and I hope whoever emerges as the winner will be graceful about it. And equally, the loser will embrace the process as fair and democratic.

On a personal note, I would prefer all the opposition parties to unite under the leadership of the United Democratic Party (UDP) because it has more political support in the country based on past presidential elections. In other words, I am for a UDP led coalition. Hence, it appeared that UDP has failed to convince other parties to go with that scenario; therefore, accepting anything is better than challenging the incumbent while fragmented. That will lead us to no victory, but an ultimate defeat of large-scale consequences. And may Allah forbid, but if that happens the braggadocios Quran wielding, self-righteous, Mandinka bashing ignoramus will finish us all. So, do the right thing for the sake of the country.

To the politicians and concerned Gambians in the Diaspora, please keep the peace, allow the people on the ground to finish the democratic revolution for its the best alternative we have at our disposal to uproot a totalitarian dictatorship. We have endured for so long and cannot take it anymore. For the best souls of our country are either marooned in Mile Two, exiled in the wilderness or buried six feet deep in unmarked graves all over the country. Whoever allows this barbaric treatment of our people to continue will be an accomplish, and we will never forgive you or may I say I will never forgive you and Allah will judge between us in the hereafter.

Finally, to GDC, please Mama Kandeh reconsider your decision, join the coalition bandwagon, and don’t let history judge you poorly. I know you are doing this out of principles, but sometimes we have to abandon our strong principles for the common interest. And if you so do, posterity will be kind to you for the future of your party will be brighter in the 3rd republic than under APRC.

May Allah guide us towards the common interest!  The struggle continues and victory is near!

By Mustapha Jawara

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