Michael Scales

(JollofNews) – To try to understand the dynamics of what some are calling “the peaceful transfer of power” in Gambia in the aftermath of the presidential and National Assembly elections is at the outset, very complicated.

Some online commentators suggest it was by luck, fate or design but probably contained not one of these interventions but all three. To begin with, this was anything but “peaceful” seeing as 40,000 Gambians were displaced by the tangible threat posed by ECOWAS forces to Mr Jammeh’s intransigent resistance to force, at least for a few weeks anyway.

But I think we must go back to the explanation of how the coalition came about mooted by some commentators online. They suggest that as Ousainou Darboe, leader of the  United Democratic Party (UDP) was in prison and in any case barred by his age to stand for president, it was by the goodwill achieved between his successor, Adama Barrow, and other opposition leaders to offer consent to the formation of such a coalition.

That Mr Barrow should lead that coalition. This coalition that had been so difficult to achieve for so many years, finally ousted the incumbent aided by the good showing of Mammah Kandeh and his Gambia Democratic Party (GDC). Was this by luck, fate or design ?
Since then it is interesting to note that the age limit to stand for President or Vice President has been scrapped.This suggested as being a contentious matter to install President Barrow’s pick for Vice President, Mrs Tambajang who is 67. But for some reason this has not yet happened?

We were then informed that President Barrow was to tour the country on his “meet the people tour” only a few days before the National Assembly elections. Was this by luck, fate or design?

We then were treated to a well reported spat between Mr Darboe and Omar Jallow (OJ) of the PPP. OJ accused Mr Darboe of causing the rift in the coalition government and inability of governing parties to put up a united front in the election. The UDP went on to swept the floor in the election gaining 31 members. The APRC 5 , the NRP 5, the GDC 5,  PDOIS 4, and  the PPP 2. One sitting independent candidate was re-elected.

The UDP did not field candidates against Halifa Sallah and Sidia Jatta of the PDOIS, which helped them to be elected. Was this by luck, fate or design?

The former majority party, the APRC held only their seats in the Fonis. The PPP gained the two seats in Banjul. The president nominated five National Assembly Members. It is reported that Mammah Kandeh of the GDC has reject the election results because the president used his  meet the people to influence the outcome of the election in favour of the UDP. The UDP fielded more candidates by a wide margin that all the other parties. Was this by luck, fate or design?

So who are the winners and the losers? And when is a coalition not a coalition? Was this an election conducted on a level playing field or are there other factors at play?  Has this coalition been a marriage of convenience and if so who has it favoured?

So many questions you may think. The answers come down to the electorate. I must enquire who benefitted most by recent events. There is no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was difficult to oust in all previous elections. I think the Gambian people serve the leader and show incredible loyalty to a figurehead even if that figurehead does terrible things to those who do not adore or agree with him. The educated call this tyranny/dictatorship.

I certainly do not think that tribalism is the overriding motivating factor. Those who say this are out of touch with reality.
I have also been disturbed by the unmitigated assault on the independent writing and reporting of Freedom Newspaper and its editor Pa Nderry M’bai.  I also noted other unpleasant comments regarding Fatu Camara not only by commentators but by other online newspapers and journalists. The personal attacks on opposition leaders is also deeply worrying and unhealthy.

There is no doubt in my mind that President Barrow has been a God send for the UDP. Perhaps, this is fate. One could suggest that Mr Darboe is a very lucky man. That fate has finally delivered his dreams and design has crafted a new dynamic for Gambians and the UDP. We await to see the benefits for the Gambian people.  For at the end of their long struggles for freedom, it is the improvement of their daily lives that matter most.

I believe in a free transparent and independent press. It cannot be silenced or muzzled and must be allowed to be the keeper of true accountability of government and free speech for the people even when disagreeable. All should be open to fair and balanced criticism.
In a true democracy, the citizen has the final vote. And if they are not happy with their president party or representative, they can remove/replace them. Term limits and elections should re-assure and ensure this process.

My anxiety in my last observation has not yet diminished. The worst case scenario would be to replace a one party government with another one party government. It becomes at least as important post-Jammeh to have a vibrant searching free press. I am at least encouraged by President Barrows latest victory statement posted on JollofNews this morning. We now need to see words transformed into good deeds. May the loan of US$ 25 million taken on behalf of the Gambian people be never wasted on the enlargement of government.  God Bless the Gambia.