leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has been elected flag-bearer of the
coalition of the seven opposition political parties, for the 1st December 2016
presidential election of The Gambia.
He was elected at an opposition convention held at a hotel in Kololi yesterday and attended by 490 delegates, most of them old men and women and largely not academically literate.
Each of the seven parties in the convention – National Reconciliation Party, National Convention Party, People’s Progressive Party, Gambia Moral Congress, People’s Democratic Party for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress, and United Democratic Party – brought in 70 delegates.
The party delegates were from the regions, 10 delegates from each of the seven administrative regions of The Gambia.
In an election to determine the candidate for the coalition, Mr Barrow was elected by an overwhelming 308 of the 490 delegates. He was followed by Hamat Bah of NRP at second position with 72 votes.
The chief proponent of the convention, Halifa Sallah of PDOIS got 65 votes, and Dr Lamin Bolong Bojang of NCP, 40 votes.
Shortly before the election, Mr Barrow pleaded with the delegates to vote for him as the coalition presidential candidate as a show of solidarity with Ousainou Darboe and in sympathy for the death in state custody of UDP’s stalwarts, Solo Sandeng and Solo Krummah.
Hamat Bah presented himself as the candidate that can unite a divided Gambia, for he would unite all and together work for the economic development of the country.
The leader of the revived NCP, Lamin Bolong Bojang, said he is into politics to fulfill his dream and to set the country on the right course. He told the delegates to vote for him for their benefit in this world and in the hereafter.
The 63-year-old Halifa Sallah of PDOIS said when elected president, he would make sure his heart beats in unison with every Gambian, and would make sure that the inhuman, degrading punishment of people stops.
The convention agreement is that the coalition president would serve a transition period of three years, and take the country to election to elect a new president.
However, Mr Sallah said he would serve for only two years, and in the process would lay a solid foundation that any president coming after him can use to develop the country.
After hearing from the four contenders, the delegates decided that Adama Barrow is the man who should do the job for them.
Hamat Bah had his turn in 2011, when he was elected as the presidential candidate for the United Front comprising four opposition parties – PDOIS, NRP, GPDP, and NADD.
Out of a total of 212 delegates, he emerged winner of the convention after he polled 118 votes (56.19%). In the presidential election that followed, the United Front under Mr Bah got just 11 per cent of the votes cast.
Meanwhile, Dr Isatou Touray, the independent presidential aspirant, decided not to attend the convention yesterday. Neither herself nor her party delegates were present. The central committee of the convention said they did not hear from her officially as to her non-attendance.
Observers said her non-attendance was a confirmation of the rumours that she has decided to quit the opposition coalition to run solo, following in the footstep of the Gambia Democratic Congress.
Meanwhile, following heavy criticism on social media for quitting a process that opposition sympathisers see as the way out to unseat the incumbent, Dr Touray has issued a statement on Facebook saying she “acknowledges the deep concern that Gambians have raised about her absence”.
In the statement, she said she equally deeply regrets her absence in “this all-important meeting”. She is billed to give a press conference today, Monday, to explain herself on the issues and the way forward.
In any case, all the opposition party leaders at the coalition convention have given their support to the coalition flag-bearer, Adama Barrow, and they promised to continue working together to defeat President Yahya Jammeh, come 1st December 2016.