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Matters Arising

Oct 8, 2008, 5:10 AM

The forthcoming official visit to The Gambia of Ms Sky Gallegos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Intergovernmental Affairs for the Democratic National Convention, promises to be an exciting one. Ms Gallegos's background is rich and stout; she is steeped in American politics, having worked in the last three presidential elections, worked with state and local officials for the last 15 years, some of these being senior positions in government, corporate, non-profit and campaign areas. She was until recently, a partner with Hilltop Public Solutions, a public affair, strategic communications and campaign consulting firm in Washington, DC.

In inviting her over to The Gambia, the US Embassy in Banjul seeks to "highlight the democratic process of elections in the US". We welcome this initiative.

This US presidential election is historic for more reasons than one. It is the first time in American history that a black person and a woman sought to be nominated as presidential candidate. Though the woman presidential hopeful lost, history was nonetheless made. Now, for the first time, a black man is on the verge of becoming the next president of America. And for the first time ever, there is a female vice presidential candidate in the United States.

One of the issues we would like Ms Gallegos to speak on is the gender dimension in the 2008 presidential election. Is it a one-off thing or is it a phenomenon that has come to stay?

We would also like her to speak impact of the Obama phenomenon on the future of American politics. Over four decades ago, a visionary dreamed that "one day the sons of slaves and sons of former slave owners will sit down on the table of brotherhood". Is that dream being fulfilled in a significant way in the likely presidential victory of Mr Barack Obama on November 4?

The Gambian public would like to know what measures the American government has put in place to guard against the shame of the 2000 presidential election? We would also like to know why a winner of the popular vote is denied victory in the American electoral system? Is it that electoral system compatible with democracy, as we know it? These are some of the issues begging for clarification, explanation or analysis.

We also want to use this opportunity of Ms Gallegos's visit to reaffirm our endorsement of Mr Barack Obama. We had earlier affirmed on this page that he would be America's first black president. We believed then, as now, that he is the right person to sort out the mess that America is enmeshed in at the moment. He has the intelligence, the energy, and the charisma to undo the ill will and hostility that ill conceived foreign policies of the past eight years have unleashed on America and Americans. America needs a new direction - a new direction of peace and reconciliation all around the globe. And Mr Obama is the man to take them up that path.

We look forward to meeting Ms Sky Gallegos at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on 14 October.

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Wilson Woodrow