Divergent views help readers to grow. It is unfortunate that many young people today would want to engage in polemics but have not encountered serious battle of views to enable them to defend their positions. Hence, they resort to dismissive tendencies which often result in covering unpleasant facts with angry invectives. We are glad that the first critique has tempered his reaction with respect. We thank him for his civil attitude.
Now let us proceed to the second critique. It reads:
HALIFA SALLAH’S PETULANT SCREEDS OVER COALITION
I understand from social media reports that Halifa Sallah of PDOIS made some unfounded statements in his press conference yesterday, about UDP’s tactical alliance proposal of 2017. Let it be made clear; the tactical alliance broke no agreement whatsoever. It was merely a proposal that arose as a result of the lack of prior agreement relating to the National Assembly Elections, and it was made within the context of the coalition. However, it never took effect due to lack of agreement among the stakeholders. As a matter of fact, the GMC, NCP, GPDP and NRP who all supported the proposal, contested against UDP in some of the constituencies.
The proposal never stopped the upper age limit from been amended and this was part of the coalition plan. How it could have possibly stopped any other coalition planned constitutional amendment when no bill relating to the coalition agenda was ever rejected by the National Assembly is beyond comprehension. If the tactical alliance proposal with a majority support can be considered a problem, God knows what can be said of the opposing proposal that did not even had majority support among the coalition stakeholders.
Furthermore, the so-called section 65 amendment proposal is a Halifa Sallah after-thought. There is no specific mention of it in the MOU. Of course, this amendment would be necessary if efficacy is to be given to the coalition’s promise to hold elections after 3yrs, but the bottom line is that nobody including Halifa Sallah brought any such amendment proposal in the National Assembly in the form of a bill. So instead of being petulant about it, why don’t he just bring forward a bill in the National Assembly?? Surely the tactical alliance proposal did not take away any of his rights as a legislator.
The UDP was both instrumental and the heavyweight lifter in this coalition business. PDOIS did not say anything in the negotiations that they haven’t said in the previous coalition negotiations, the fundamentals of which were largely disagreed to by the UDP.
This time around in 2016, instead of striking for a compromised solution as was hitherto the strategy, the UDP basically accepted everything Halifa Sallah put on the table just to have a coalition, which was considered the safest option to defeating Jammeh. If they hadn’t done that, there would have been no coalition.
No one gets along with Halifa Sallah without completely kowtowing to his views. ‘Compromise’ is not in his vocabulary. PDOIS people need to acknowledge that and move on. There is a difference between what one desires and what one agreed with others. The former binds no one. We know the history.
By Suntu S. Daffeh United Kingdom
RESPONSE BY PDOIS SECRETARY GENERAL
The key issues mentioned by Mr Daffeh are threefold.
First and foremost, he alleged that the statement made on the causes and consequences of the tactical alliance are at variance with the reality. According to him, the tactical alliance was not in breach of any agreement and that in fact it never materialised.
Secondly, he argued that amending the Constitution regarding the age limit was simply an act of implementing what was in the Coalition agreement.
Thirdly, he argued that making reference to the amendment of section 65 of the Constitution to include elections after three years was an afterthought but not a matter embodied in the Coalition agreement.
We hoped we have summed up Mr Daffeh’s argument with accuracy.
First and foremost, we would like to inform Mr Daffeh that more information is available that he may not have been privileged to access. According to the Constitution, National Assembly elections are to be held four months after the date of election to the office of the President. The impasse and President Barrow’s late coming from Senegal made Gambians to focus more on the functioning of his government after his arrival than National Assembly elections. Up to March the Coalition camp was mostly in favour of having coalition tickets for National Assembly members. This embodied the holding of a primary to elect one among the aspirants to be the coalition candidate.
Eventually tours were initiated to inform people about this development. It is during these tours that the fundamental differences in approaches to the National Assembly elections became apparent. This gave rise to a series of meetings among the Coalition partners to decide whether to have primaries to elect Coalition candidates for the National Assembly, which initially had the upper hand, or to leave certain seats for certain political parties.
In the final discussion, parties were asked to draw the list of constituencies where they would put up candidates. The lists presented confirmed that it would be impossible for the Coalition members to implement the tactical alliance of having only one party contesting a seat against candidates outside the Coalition. The negotiation caused a lot of delay without attaining any success. Hence finally parties put up candidates wherever they wanted.
Interestingly enough some parties decided to claim to be part of a tactical alliance and would put the photograph of President Barrow close to the photograph of their candidates and attached the ash colour to their own colour and then claimed to be the candidate of President Barrow. What is the point at issue?
The point at issue is simple. Two approaches to the National Assembly were evident. One approach is to pool all the Coalition National Assembly aspirants just as we pooled all the presidential aspirants and elect one of them to be the candidate for a given seat. The other is to propose for parties to stand and voluntarily leave the strongest in a particular constituency to contest.
The first approach is designed to have a coalition candidate on an independent ticket and the second approach is to have a party candidate under a party ticket. Under the first approach, the coalition agenda will become supreme while under the second approach the party agenda will become supreme. It is therefore obvious that by crucifying the Coalition’s first approach before the altar of the second approach, the Coalition agenda collapsed like a house of cards. This is the point that was made during the press conference.
It is observed that if party was put aside and the Coalition agenda put to the fore, the Coalition National Assembly members, the Coalition campaign team and the Coalition secretariat would have been so powerful that President Barrow would have had to safeguard the Coalition mandate. This is the point that was made self-evident at the press conference.
On the other hand by focusing on party agenda, a number of political parties gave the impression that they had the blessing of President Barrow and justified that by providing more funds to candidates and having him participate in their campaign, thus enticing many candidates who may originally not have been members of their parties but had the popularity to win a seat.
The end result is the separation of the Coalition partners, death of the Coalition secretariat and no Coalition oversight to check the overwhelming power of an executive president. When people reap what they sow, they should admit the truth and what was said at the press conference was the truth and nothing but the truth. That is why the Coalition members are calling each other to go back to the drawing board at a time when none has the clout to influence President Barrow to adhere to the Coalition agenda. This is the incontrovertible truth that could only be swallowed by people who admit truth when it is as naked as the golden sun.
Let us now move to the second contention raised by Mr Daffeh.