Mar 17, 2016, 10:16 AM
As he replies to Henry Gomez
As the debate ahead of the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local government elections continues, Hamat Bah, leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP), has opined that the ruling APRC and its leadership will have their biggest surprise in the coming polls.
“I can assure you that the APRC and President Jammeh will have their biggest surprise in this coming election. They will be surprised, even though President Jammeh is already campaigning on TV. Who will get the lesson, come 24th November, is just a matter of time, and Gambians will see what will happen,” Bah said.
The NRP leader, who was speaking in an interview with The Point at the weekend, said politicians have a right to say what they want to say.
Bah, who will be contesting the forthcoming presidential election for the third time, described as political jargon to win votes, comments made by President Jammeh that development will be given to those who voted for him.
“People have graduated from that now, and President Jammeh can no longer use those jargons to get votes from people, because we have gone beyond that type of politics. People have become more matured today,” he said.
“Gambians are looking for something more credible and more tangible, and when we go into the campaign field, he will know that those old jargons cannot be used to win the minds of anybody any more.”
Hamat Bah described the just-concluded voter registration exercise as a good effort from the IEC and Gambians at large, while underscoring the need for Gambians to come out and vote in the forthcoming polls.
However, he noted that coming out to vote depends on the choice that people have.
“If people are not happy with the choice, they may not register. If they also don’t trust the system, they may not vote. This also happens when people are not convinced that the elections will be free and fair,” he said, adding that the NRP wants to get that concept out of the people.
“People should understand that no matter what, their vote can make a difference because once cast, it will be counted,” he said.
He said the NRP will be challenging some of the decisions taken during the voter registration exercise at the revising courts, now that the exercise is over.
“We will do it, and we hope it will be a fair trial because this will contribute to our security,” he said.
While underscoring the need for Gambians to be guided by the spirit of national reconciliation, Hamat Bah also expressed the need for a conducive atmosphere in the country’s political field.
He called on the government to show restraint so that the political environment is not polluted with what he called fear or anything that would derail the country’s democracy.
“I want Gambians to understand that there is no system that is better than democracy, but there is no perfect democracy also anywhere in this world; but they differ from one country to another,” he said, while calling on Gambians to nurture the little they have and build on it for a better democracy.
Commenting on the recent calls by Henry Gomez, leader of the opposition GPDP party, for him (Hamat), Halifa Sallah and Ousainou Darboe to give chance to new and emerging opposition leaders ahead of the polls, Hamat Bah said Gomez was expressing his opinion, which he has a right to do.
However, he noted that he has not even started in politics, much more considering relinquishing to anybody.
“If Gomez has his party, let him structure it and go and contest elections. Let him use the GPDP to contest election, because nobody is stopping him from contesting elections. But he has no rights over NRP, how it is run, who leads NRP or what the leader of NRP should do and what they should not do,” he said.
According to him, it is not for Henry Gomez to dictate who leads and who should not lead.
“If he believes that he has the support in the country, and he has the means to uproot President Jammeh, he can go ahead but as far as I’m concerned in the NRP, I am just starting in politics.
Hamat Bah then went on to reiterate his earlier pronouncement that he will contest the coming polls as a candidate.
“I will be a candidate in the coming elections, come what may. With or without alliance with anybody who comes to join me, I am going to contest,” he stated.
He further stated that the sacrifices made by UDP leader Ousainou Darboe cannot be put under the carpet.
“Nobody can put under the carpet, the sacrifices that Ousainou Darboe has made and the contributions he has done in the democratization process of The Gambia, the development of our democracy and his struggle for freedom, justice and fair play in the Gambia,” he said, adding that the same applies to Halifa Sallah of the PDOIS.
“Halifa Sallah has also contributed immensely in the political development of our country, and he has sacrificed a lot and there is also nobody who can put his contributions under the carpet,” he said.
“I think if Gomez wants to really contest election in an alliance, he has to find it another way and not to castigate other leaders who have contributed immensely to this country’s well-being.”
He said as far as he is concerned, he will contest the forthcoming election.
“I am not joining with any political party, unless if you want to come and join with the NRP. That is simple, and I have made it categorically clear,” he declared.