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OJ Jallow breaks silence, says opposition leaders owe Gambians an apology

Dec 8, 2011, 1:25 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Leader of the opposition Peoples Progressive Party, Omar Jallow, alias OJ, has called on his fellow colleagues in the opposition camp to apologize to all Gambians, for what he said was their “failure” and “betrayal of trust” in the 24th November presidential polls.

“We should be courageous and honest enough to apologize to the Gambian people because we have failed them. I personally take this opportunity on my behalf, on behalf of the PPP party and on behalf of all opposition parties, to apologize to all Gambians for our failure and betrayal of trust,” OJ said in an interview with this paper.

Jallow, whose presence was hardly felt throughout the period leading to the presidential election, said leaders of the opposition owed Gambians both within and outside the country who had for the past 17 years looked on them for leadership and guidance, an apology.

According to him, most Gambians relied on the opposition “for the salvation of The Gambia from the clutches of dictatorship, but unfortunately after all the experiences we had in 1996, 2001, and 2006, the opposition leaders failed to put their house in order and live up to expectations.”

He told this reporter that just like in 2005, when there were all indications that the majority of Gambians supported the NADD alliance, but its leaders could not continue the coalition, leaders of the opposition once again faced a humiliating defeat in the 2011 polls, due to the lack of unity.

“So me for me, I thought that these experiences and failures should have guided us to come out in 2011 with a more United Front with commitment, maturity and responsibility, and to bury all our personal differences and see Gambia as a bigger picture, which is far more important than all of us put together with our parties,” he said.

OJ told this reporter that he had personally tried, when the UDP wrote to all the opposition parties inviting them to a meeting to start the process in forming an alliance.

“After consultations with my colleagues within my party and other Gambians within and outside The Gambia, we all agreed that with time constraints because it was only three months before the elections, which I said was one of the deficiencies and the mistakes we made because all of us are in The Gambia for the past four years nine months, and we refused to initiate any activity that will bring us together,” he explained.

He added: “Then three months before the election not only was time against us, but we have resource constraints. So I said because of the fact that the UDP as an opposition party has had more support and votes in 1996, 2001 and 2006, it is now for me to propose that we accept the proposal of the UDP-led alliance.”

He stated that among the conditions he attached to his letter was that if a UDP-led candidate won, he/she will only serve for one term and then withdraw and he/she will not support any candidates for the future elections or any party.

“Secondly, the government of the alliance will be inclusive of all members of the parties that are parties to the alliance. All of them will participate in the government, and we will set up a technical committee that will draft the alliance agreements. Unfortunately, I supported this proposal, but some of the members of the other parties like Halifa Sallah of PDOIS and Hamat Bah of NRP didn’t support it,” he further explained.

OJ added that because there was no consensus at the end of the day, he decided that his party will only campaign for the united candidate, without which, his party will not take part “because already from our experience, it will be a waste of resources, time and a waste of energy.”

Now, he went on, “it is unfortunate that I am exonerated because I thought, by this time, the APRC Government should have been history, if we were united.”

In OJ’s view, the APRC is today legitimized because of the inability of the opposition to put its house in order, and to put The Gambia first before anything else.

“So I am using this opportunity to call on the leadership of the opposition parties in the country, once more, to go back to the drawing board and come together and form a strong platform for the parliamentary election because, if we are united, there are all possibilities that we will win at least 20 seats,” he stated.

With 20 opposition seats in parliament, he added, it will stop the impunity, the amendment of laws and the passing and making of draconian laws in our parliament.

“This will be a good beginning for the transformation of The Gambia into a genuine democratic system,” he concluded.