May 17, 2016, 12:06 PM
of The Gambia’s opposition parties, the independent presidential aspirant and
civil society activists Friday convened at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, where they
signed a coalition pact to finally elect a standard bearer for the entire
opposition in the country.
However, one of the opposition parties, the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) headed by Mamma Kandeh, refused to sign the pact, based on certain criteria or method of conducting the election.
A press release issued after the signing of the pact reads: “We the signatories of this memorandum comprising the representatives of member parties of the Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform (GOFER), the aspiring independent candidate from the civil society and the invited participants from the civil society, putting our differences aside, in pursuance of the supreme national interest, do hereby agree; to hold a National Convention comprising 10 delegates from each region selected by each signatory party and presidential aspirant from civil society, who are accorded the key mandate to elect one of the aspiring presidential candidates to be the flag bearer of the coalition for 1December 2016 Presidential Election; to this end, we further agree to set up Technical Committees that are charged with the mandate to work out the modalities required to hold the National Convention.”
Speaking at the meeting, Yusupha Jaiteh, deputy party leader for GDC said the process should be opened whereby people are allowed to come and vote in the form of a primary, and select who would be the flag bearer for all the political parties ahead of the presidential election.
“I prefer we leave it open rather than selecting ten people,” he said, adding that when they went for the meeting they were not given anything to sign and looking at the document all parties had been represented, but he did not see the GDC being represented.
“I read the document, but we were not happy,” he added.
Halifa Sallah, flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independent and Socialism (PDOIS), in his remarks on the outcome of the meeting, said the resolution was moved and seconded and unanimous consent was sought and nobody said no to the agreement.
“Irrespective of whether you are a party or independent aspirant you will be able to select 10 delegates from each region who will constitute a national convention that would select the flag bearer,” he said.
Ma Jako Samura of the National Convention Party (NCP), in his comments, said: “If this goes to the press and it happens to change it would bring some kind of contradictions in the whole process.”
It was also decided that all the political parties and the independent aspirant would go for a national convention to select a flag bearer on 31 October.