By Ndey Sowe
The presidential candidate for the National Unity Party (NUP), Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh, has explained the reason(s) for his party not taking part in what was the maiden edition of presidential debate in the history of The Gambia.
Out of six presidential candidates, only two took part in the public debate ahead of the December 4 Presidential elections, held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center, Bijilo on 20 November, 2021.
Halifa Sallah of the People’s Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and independent candidate Essa Mbye Faal were the two candidates who faced off in the debate.
“Right now, it is difficult for us as a party because we are all the way in URR (Upper River Region), and as a party, we have not toured the country before. This is the first time we are doing it and we do have very important engagements with the local communities,” NUP Presidential candidate said in an interview with the state broadcaster, GRTS, shared with this reporter by the NUP’s PRO.
The aforesaid debate was organized by the Commission on Political Debates (CPD) and moderated by two prominent Gambian journalists, Saikou Jammeh, the former secretary general of Gambia Press Union (GPU) and Fotoumatta Cessay of GRTS.
Speaking further, Jammeh said this was the challenge for them to take part in the debate. The presidential aspirant said his party has consented to taking part in the debate, but due to the discussions he had with his team when they visited his house, they realized that the timing was not favourable.
Mr. Jammeh added that it could have been better for the organizers to take it around the 26 November when most parties would have finished their tour in rural Gambia and returned to urban Gambia.
However, Jammeh extended his apologies to the organizers and the public for not taking part in the presidential debate. Mr. Jammeh also added that he is in the business of trying to canvass votes, adding that the engagements they are having is equally important too. He further said it would have been nice for them to be part of the debate, and he was optimistic that a lot of people were looking forward to his party being part of the debate. Speaking further, the newbie politician said the debate is important because it would avail the opportunity for people to know the differences between the parties in terms of policies and programmes they intended to