Momodou Musa Touray

(JollofNews) – The Coalition alliance, barely two months after ousting Jammeh, is unravelling faster than a cheap T-shirt. All due to disagreement with the method of fielding candidates for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The UDP, GMC, NRP parties have made a clean break from the Coalition to adopt a so-called tactical alliance for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Darboe, the head of this breakaway group, is against the idea of fielding independent candidates for each of the 53 constituencies, branding it as “illogical and ineffective”.

Halifa Sallah and the rest of the Coalition members consisting of PPP, PDOIS, GPDP argued for independent candidates in line with the Coalition Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in November 2016.

According to the MOU the political parties agreed “to put all differences aside to put a transitional government in place that would initiate constitutional, electoral, institutional, administrative and managerial reforms to create a democratic system which enables each party to seek the mandate of the people in a free, fair and genuine election after a THREE YEAR TRANSITION”.

This was the manifesto that the Coalition sold to the Gambian people during the presidential elections. And it is clearly stated in black and white that during this THREE YEAR TRANSITION period the members of the Coalition are meant to put all party loyalty aside and work together for the common good. A period of healing and rebuilding a broken nation still reeling from the pangs of a brutal 22-year dictatorship.

Wasn’t that the cry of our people? Wasn’t that what our people called for and demanded? So why embark on a tactical alliance when you already have a coalition? The answer is crystal clear. This wrangling has nothing to do with the method of fielding candidates but rather a grudge match between Halifa and Darboe.

Ousainou Darboe

There’s no love lost between these two formidable political heavyweights. The antipathy between the two had put paid to any meaningful opposition coalition in the past until last year when Darboe was temporarily remove from the political scene by Jammeh.

Darboe’s Freudian slip during his press conference gave us an insight into the bitter acrimony between him and Halifa. “In 2006, they disregarded my advice which caused us political havoc. My friend here (referring to Hamat Bah) lost his seat which he hasn’t regained ever since,” said Darboe. There was the genie out of the bottle for all to see. It’s rather unfortunate that they haven’t settle their differences.

This coalition though is different from the one in 2006. The 2016 Coalition was a rainbow alliance of Gambians of all shades and stripes in uprooting the Jammeh dictatorship. We should remind Darboe and his political acolytes that the option of using an independent candidate is rational, feasible and a winning model given our predicament. It was political alliance rather than tactical alliance that brought down the dictatorship.

Halifa Sallah

And that the social contract the coalition signed with the Gambian people should be respected. There are bigger issues, such as rebuilding the country, strengthening of our weak institutions, nursing and nurturing our nascent democracy, probing the abuses and excesses of the Jammeh administration, justice and compensation for victims, that need dealing with pronto.

So stop this petty fight and bickering. We are yet to make it to dry land. We have a fragile peace which is still being underwritten by our sister countries from the Ecowas sub-region. And that the APRC is gleefully banging at the door asking to be let in to spoil the party. Do you want our people to suffer buyer’s remorse?

The term tactical alliance as a political strategy is redundant because there’s already one in place in the form of the Coalition. It’s a strategy mainly used in parliamentary democracy, according to Webster dictionary, “to prevent the strongest candidate from winning by supporting the next strongest, without regard to one’s true political allegiance.”

It’s staggering that a Coalition that has the support and backing of a large chunk of the populace will want to inflict self-harm on itself by splintering. As we speak they have the momentum and the upper hand and will most likely win a majority of the 53 constituencies if they stay together as one bloc. Anything short of this will be an own goal.

We should call the proponents of the so-called tactical alliance for what they truly are: a bunch of greedy, self-seeking, thin-skinned egomaniacs. Why reinvent the wheel? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We will not allow them to hijack the change EVERYONE fought so hard for. No one individual, group, party or tribe will claim it for itself.

It beggars belief that after all the toil, tears and blood to end dictatorship in The Gambia, another is rearing its ugly head in the form of intolerance. Haranguing and shutting down opponents who don’t share your views are undemocratic. Debate is healthy for our emerging democracy and the currency of politics should be ideas not threats.

The behaviour of some supporters of the UDP, GMC, NRP alliance at a press conference last Sunday was disgraceful to say the least. Scolding and berating journalists for asking unfavourable questions were wrong and should be condemned by all. And the manhandling of Foroyaa journalist, Kebba Jeffang Jnr was repugnant and unacceptable. We thought that kind of incident was history.
Get your acts together and show leadership.

We know the Coalition is a short term marriage of convenience, so make the most of it while it lasts. In politics as in other facets of life we all make compromises to get things done. Build bridges and not walls. Don’t scupper this historic opportunity to make a difference and create a Gambia that future generations will be proud of. In other words plant a tree now for the next generation to enjoy the shade.

By Momodou Musa Touray
Twitter: @mmtouray