Jun 24, 2014, 11:19 AM
Halifa Sallah secretary-general of PDOIS on Saturday briefed the press on “Agenda 2016” which has been launched in The Gambia by the opposition political party. Agenda 2016 “a provisional manifesto” of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, PDOIS, was formally launched at a mass meeting held in Wuli Barrow-kunda village in the Upper River Region, on Sunday 11 May 2014. PDOIS issued a summary of the contents of Agenda 2016, as follows:
A Third Republic Ushering in the Sovereignty of the People
PDOIS Agenda 2016 Publication Launch was graced by thousands of residents of Wuli Barrow Kunda , URR, and its environs on Sunday , 11TH May 2014 – see photos.
Strategic Objective of PDOIS Agenda 2016
The strategic objective of PDOIS AGENDA 2016 is to build a Third Republic ushering in the era of the sovereignty of the people commencing in 2016. PDOIS is of the view that the highest political expression of the right to self determination and Independence is the founding of a sovereign Republic on the basis of the consent of the people, which legitimises their equality in citizenship and sovereignty.
Hence, before 2016, PDOIS has the aim to conduct sensitisation sessions nationwide to ensure that all Gambians are cognisant of the fact that citizenship under a Republic guarantees the sovereignty of the person.
The first goal is to put a definitive end to voter apathy by ensuring that upon completion of the exercise each Gambian would recognise that the voter’s cardis an attestation of one’s sovereignty and equality in citizenship with all other Gambians, without which one is deprived of the power and voice to say how the country is governed.One is thus transformed into an alien in one’s own country.
All Gambians should then feel a self-motivated urge to possess and preserve one’s citizenship card as a manifestation of one’s national Identity, and a voter’ card as a symbol of one’s sovereignty.
The second goal is to put a definitive end to sectarian politics which relieson the perpetuation of prejudices or loyalties based on faith, gender, caste and ethno–linguistic origins and ensure that it is engrained in the consciousness of every Gambian that a Sovereign Republic is a community of sovereign citizens who enjoy equal rights and freedoms and are entitled to equal benefit from public services irrespective of place of birth, ethno-linguistic origin, religion, physical features, philosophy, gender and other demographic characteristics, in whom the sovereignty of the country resides, from whom the authority to manage the affairs of the community must be drawn and for whose liberty and prosperity.
A Case for Electoral Reform
PDOIS recognises that since 1965 the Gambia had never had a democratic transfer of power from one party or person to another. In the same vein the coup d’etat and the politics of transition has given rise to a peculiar political situation in the Gambia characterised by the inadequate development of Republican and democratic instruments, institutions , values and culture which are requisite to the building of a genuine multi party system.
This reality begs for appropriate strategies and tactics to bring about democratic change which would usher in the ideal sovereign Republic could put in place a genuine multi party system.
PDOIS AGENDA 2016 proposes two practical tactics to address the political situation.
The first arose out of the initiative of the joint opposition prior to the 2012 National Assembly Elections. To combat the abuse of incumbency through the use of state resources and personnel for party political objectives 7 opposition parties petitioned the IEC to convene a stakeholders’ meeting for all to give commitment to uphold the election laws under the watchful eyes of the press and electronic media. The failure of the IEC to meet this minimum achievable step as a start for effecting electoral reform led to the non participation of 6 opposition parties in the National Assembly Elections. The end result was reduced confidence in the electoral system.
In short, out of 48 constituencies with 796,929 registered voters, only 304,000 voters in 23 constituencies were supposed to have taken part. However, only 154,950 voters finally voted in the 23 constituencies. The APRC which contested in 23 constituencies had 80,249 of the popular vote. The Independent Candidates had 60,085 votes out of 18 constituencies. NRP had 14, 606 votes.
The Group of Six continued call for electoral reform was further legitimised by the results. Hence, when Jesse Jackson visited The Gambia after the execution and asked the opposition what role he could play, after the release of some prisoners, seven opposition parties and some Independent members of the National Assembly gave him a mediating role for electoral reform. The Group of Six was transformed into Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform comprising all the seven opposition parties and some Independent MPs.
In the council elections, 45 seats out of 114 were contested. The Independent Candidates won 10 of the seats. NRP won no seat. In the Mayoral Elections in Banjul, out of 21,178 registered voters only 9,733 voted and the Independent candidate won.
In the KMC Mayoral Election, out of 187,757 voters only 36,755 voters participated. The APRC had 25,773 votes. It is, therefore, clear that the 2016 electoral cycle opens with a clean slate. Its outcome will depend on how the hearts and minds of the people are to be shaped in these coming two years.
The First Tactic
The first tactic is to work for electoral reform so that the second round of voting is restored and upper age limits barring candidatureare eradicated to enable interested parties to test their popularity and leave the electorate to decide the fate of political leaders.
The Second Tactic
The results of the Mayoral election inBanjul confirms that even if there is no electoral reform change would come if the people are resolved to support one candidate . Hence PDOIS proposes if no reform takes place up to the middle of 2015 opposition parties could meet to decide on how to select one candidate to contest the Presidential elections in 2016.
Electoral reform or not the political parties must be strong on the ground. Hence PDOIS plan is to work and consolidate its forces on the ground pending electoral reform or electoral Alliance. This is why Agenda 2016 proceeds explain how PDOIS intends to address the challenges facing the country.
PDOIS has the objective ofbuilding a self reliant economy aimed at eradicating poverty and ensuring prosperity
Public sector investment
In 2014 the estimated expenditure is 10.2 billion dalasi. If all this come from taxes poverty will increase. Hence PDOIS calls for the accumulation of sovereign Nation wealth through mining minerals like Illmenite, Rutile and Zircon which have been found in the coastal strip of Bato Kunku, Sanyang and Kartong as well as explore the oil resources of the country.
It will collect dividends from public enterprises which as far back as 1998 had a turnover of 804 Million dalasi and paid 68 Million dalasi into government covers. In 1999 the turnover increased to 940 Million and 82 Million dalasi paid into government coffers.
The Private sector will be the engine of mobilising capital and foreign direct investment for productive private sector investment to complement the aim of promoting poverty eradication and general welfare through corporate responsibility. In recent years, approximately, 1.6 billion dollars, amounting to more than 64000 Million dalasi, is exchanged annually in the foreign exchange market in the Gambia while exports in 2012 earned the country only 92.6 Million dollars or 3680 Million Dalasi. The investment of the private sector in the productive base of the economy falls far short of the volume of money that is currently in circulation.PDOIS will ensure that private sector capital is linked to private sector investment
The cooperative sector will be the engine of accumulation of Cooperative finances for grassroots development. In 2007 alone rice import to the Gambia amounted to 557 million dalasi, tomato paste, 121 Million dalasi; onions, 18 million dalasi; flour, 130 Million dalasi; vegetable oil, 457 Million dalasi, fruits and vegetables, 57 Million dalasi; Milk and Milk products, 149 million dalasi. If agriculture is linked to processing by cottage or light scale industries financed by cooperative financial institutions a sum of over 1489 Million dalasi would have been put in the hands of Gambian producers in one year.
The Social Security and housing Finance Corporation invested over 400 Million dalasi to purchase and refurbish Ocean Bay Hotel. Such sums of money should have been deposited in a Bank serving as shareholder since only a sum of 200 Million dalasi is required to establish a bank.
Establishment of cooperative marketing units in villages to which goods could be given in kind for sale and from which goods could be bought to enable producers to benefit from the economics of scale.
The cooperative banking system would be linked to a cooperative marketing system and the family farms organised as cooperatives for family members so that they could be given farming inputs to produce on a large scale and be given fair income due jointly determined prices for their produce.
The informal sector will be the means for promoting a multiplier effect of development down to all sectors which are not reached by the formal sector.
All land will be properly delineated land into agricultural, industrial, residential, commercial, recreational, conservational and infrastructural use and all property rights determined to put a definitive end to demolitions.
We cannot just grow what we eat and eat what we grow and attained a self reliant and sustainable economy. We must process what we grow, rear, fish, mine and so on. PDOIS aims to register all the appropriate technology in the country aimed at determining our processing potential and challenges for the primary phase of industrialisation. It will facilitate joint public / private; public / cooperative and other continental linkages to facilitate the secondary phase aimed at light scale industries and the tertiary phase of industrialisationaimed at large scale industries and machine building.
The North bank and the South Bank would have first class roads linked by a bridge somewhere in URR.
River transport would be enhanced by the construction of wharfs in all major towns along the river to ensure that all heavy loads are transported by river transport to reduce the rate of dilapidation of major highways and give new life to the economic activity of many towns.
The bridge being contemplated across the Gambia River will be extended to a ports’ projectto serve Southern Senegal, Eastern Gambia, Mali and beyond . This would facilitate road and rail links in the sub-region.
PDOIS conceive the citizenry as the embodiment of the sovereignty of the Republic and collectively the architects of our destiny. It aims to eradicate all vestiges of monarchical or self-perpetuating rule and ensure that authority to lead at village, district, regional and national levels are determined by the will of the people.
Constitutional and Legal Reform
A commission of Gambian jurists would be constituted to conduct a review of the Constitution and laws and propose reform of all provisions which are unreasonable and unjustifiable in a democratic society after consultation with the wider public.
Institutional Reform of the executive, legislature, judiciary, the Public service, the office of the ombudsman and the Independent Electoral Commission would be undertaken.
Combat monarchical and self perpetuating rule by advocating for a one term mandate after the transfer of power from the current administration followed by a constitutional amendment, to introduce a two four-year term limit, as is the case in Nigeria and USA; Introduce Gender parity for the filling of two thirds of Cabinet posts in National Assembly; Ensure security of tenure of parliamentarians by subjecting them to removal only through the exercise of the right to recall by the electorate; Introduce proportional representation for two thirds of the seats in Parliament, so that one third of the membership will always be balanced by gender; Eliminate the post of nominated members and its replacement by introducing a policy of proportional representation.
Establish Special Judicial Service Commission to appoint judges on the basis of merit and subject to removal only for misconduct and infirmity confirmed by judicial inquiry; Establish a jury system for district tribunals with presidents appointed by the Judicial Service Commission; Establish Special Public Service Commission to appoint members of the IEC with Party leaders having the right to raise objections and be heard by the commission which would sit publicly to preside over the hearing of the objections.
Effect decentralisation and devolution of power by replacing governors with regional permanent secretaries to handle central government matters in the regions; Establish elected councils to administer villages, districts and regions.
PDOIS aims to build a society centred on the protection of the liberty, dignity and self worth of the citizen by upholding fundamental rights and freedoms and ensuring that all state institutions, agencies and natural persons are committed to such an endeavour. In this regard; Establish a National Human Rights Commission to monitor and ensure protection against violations of Human Rights; Ensure that all conventions on fundamental rights and freedoms that are ratified by parliament shall automatically be domesticated by promulgating the relevant provision in the constitution; Eradicate of all laws and policy directives which hinder freedom of expression, and the dissemination of divergent views and dissenting opinions by the state and non state media.
Enact a Freedom of Information Act to remove secrecy from public administration and make the administrators accountable to the public they serve and responsive to enquiries of the media which are supposed to keep the people informed.
A National Council of Media Practitioners will be established as a self regulatory body for media practitioners, which will have no judicial powers but will exercise persuasive influence aimed at promoting professionalism and integrity in the performance of duty and resolving disputes to decongest the courts. We are committed to the enactment of laws, establishment of institutions and law enforcement practices which would enlarge and protect rights and freedoms.
National Police Service Commission would exercise direction and control over the police force and appoint all senior officers of the force on the basis of merit. The Inspector General of Police shall be appointed with the approval of the head of state, but once in office, cannot be removed without judicial inquiry into allegations of misconduct o infirmity and subject to approval by the National Assembly.
Undertake reform the Criminal Code to decriminalise all provisions that are not reasonable or justifiable in a Republic or Democratic society, humanise law enforcement agencies and practices and rationalise penalties to be equivalent to crime committed; Undertake reform of prisons and prison administration. Introduce community service as alternative to imprisonment as measures to eradicate retributive justice.
Since no sovereign citizen would choose to occupy a government post of a killer of killers the death penalty would be abolished and life imprisonment maintained as the severest punishment for a crime.
A National Prisons Service Commission will exercise direction and control over prison administration and appoint senior prison officers. A Director General of Prisons shall be appointed with the approval of the head of state, but could only be removed by a judicial inquiry into allegations of infirmity of misconduct.
Imams of major mosques and priests of major churches, trade union leaders and leaders of registered civic groups or associations would be honorary human rights commissioners and social auditors who could visit jails, prisons and other places of detention to check conditions and make representation for compliance with the laws or propose improvement or reforms in the administration of public institutions such as prisons.
Courts shall be required to take judicial notice of any detention beyond the 72 hours established by the constitution, for a person to be held without bail or court appearance and count it as duress. Human rights defenders will receive maximum media coverage and protection to ensure that all violations are reported, exposed and violators named and shamed.
A sovereign person has a right to change a government, but has no right to kill and incite hatred to change a government.Hence the crimes of Treason and Sedition are not permissible in a sovereign Republic. Those who kill or destroy property could be charged for their conduct.
PDOIS aims to build a community of sovereign citizens whose sense of belonging to a community of Gambian nationals would be putabove other affinities; an informed citizenry who will have the right and audacityto ask of the community what is required to have education, skills, good health, employment, housing, proper sanitation, protection at old ageor in case of disability and adequate recreation in order tolive in liberty, dignity and prosperity and who will recognise their duty to give to the community what it requires to provide the needs of all and ensure that each enjoysindividual and social justice.
It will involve, in governance, the people organised into civil associations to serve as social auditors who will scrutinise, criticize and restrain the tendency for misrepresentation, bad governance, mismanagement and impunity, on one hand, and on the other hand, serve as the ears, eyes and mouths of the people who will speak truth to authority in defence of legitimate individual and public interest.
The Agenda has addressed the challenges of self determined education, the provision of appropriate healthfacilities , housing and other social amenities such as recreational facilities
It calls for special measures to be put in place to address past discrimination and injustices perpetrated on the basis of gender, disability, age, social origin and prevent their resuscitation.
PDOIS is to promote and preserve all cultural heritages that enhance human dignity, self worth, liberty and prosperity and thus fuse all the identities and values originating from diverse cultural backgrounds into the identity and values of the sovereign community of sovereign Gambian citizens under the Republic.
It will combat all vestiges of prejudices emanating from ethno- linguistic origins, monarchical and caste systems, religious allegiances, gender orientation and all other practices which undermine the integrity of the sovereign person in particular, and diverse groups in general, and manage diversity in such a way that unity is enhanced by promoting republican and democratic values and their institutionalization to promote the equality of all Gambiansin citizenship, and all other communities resident in the Gambia in rights to ensure mutual respect, tolerance and appreciation of diversity.
It plans to establish a house of culture in each village, district, region and urban centre for artistic and other cultural expressions, in order to promote appreciation of each others’ origins and ensure respect for the upholding of republican and democratic values and ways of life of sovereign people.
It advocates for the management ofair, land and sea in such a way that liberty and prosperity will be enhanced without putting into jeopardy the liberty, dignity and prosperity of future generations through improper management.
It will combat environmental threats caused by poor urban and regional, district and village planning, thus leading to floods and demolition of buildings, engendering poverty and hardship.
Integrate environmental impact assessment before any action is taken that could affect the environment at village, district, regional and national levels.
Regional Integration, African Unity and International Cooperation
PDOIS aims to give concrete expression to the aspiration to transform the world into a universal home for human kind, where each nation, big or small, will cooperate, and sub-regions and continents could establish Communities of states, and even federations, that will co -exist with similar entities, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, equality and mutual interest, and provide to each sovereign person the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and ecological rights.
Enter into a cooperation agreement with our neighbour Senegal, to establish a joint commission of jurists to review constitutional and legal instruments regarding governance with a view to harmonising, standardizing and adopting them to promote regionalintegration and African Unity on a democratic foundation that will serve as a pillar to uphold the fundamental rights of our peoples.
This template of a Republican Constitution will be presented to African countries and international community to promote the creation of a monarchy free century, and thus earn Africa honour and respect for promoting such an epoch-making agenda. Take concrete measures to harmonise economic, civil, political, social, cultural and ecological policies and plans with Senegal to serve as a blueprint for regional integration.