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The Next Agenda

Nov 12, 2008, 3:50 AM

The 2011 presidential race is apparently on a roll. Ever since Omar Jallow (OJ) called for another political coalition to replace the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) the political scene is wide awake yet again. Henry Gomez of The Gambia People Democratic Party (GPDP) has joined issues with OJ, dismissing a political coalition as a non-starter.His argument is that the country is faced with more pressing problems that demand concerted action rather than forming an alliance. The recent get-together of President Yahya Jammeh with leaders of the opposition has been hailed as a symbolic show of solidarity and political tolerance in the country. One thing that is clear from ongoing debate is that the country is not a one party state, that when the time is ripe all the political parties (whether or not they form an alliance) will have to compete for political power.

But what we are against is power for power's sake. As the politicians prepare for the 2011 race, we would like to see politics that is devoid of character assassination and muckraking. Besides, we want to see politics that is issue-oriented because we shall cringe at the politics of personality cult. It is now time our politicians came up with fresh ideas on how they are going to move the country forward when they come to power.

The underlying issues for the forthcoming presidential race are agriculture, education and energy. Without a sound and coherent agriculture policy that will ensure our food self-sufficiency, we shall continue to depend on food imports to the detriment of our sovereignty. Likewise if we have to depend on expatriates to implement our policies at all levels. This spells the importance of good education. If our people are well trained, then they will be able to work more efficiently for the overall good of the country. But even if we meet both conditions, we also need energy to drive the economy. At the moment, we cannot boast of food self-sufficiency, or a competitive educational system or a good energy policy.

We therefore challenge all the political parties that are interested in next presidential election to come up with blueprints on how they are going to make the agricultural, educational and energy sectors more vibrant. This will require discipline and diligence. Mere rhetoric will not get the job done. The Gambian people will have to be convinced that their votes will translate into a better life for everyone.

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

Milan Kundera