Sunday, September 19

Gambia – “Right to Know” Calls for an Urgent Grand Coalition to Preserve Democracy

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A Gambian Civil Society organization has called the “expanded field” of presidential aspirants in the opposition to unite and end incumbent Adama Barrow’s desperate determination to do whatever he deems necessary to cling to office, no matter the consequences.

The “Right to Know,” also called R2K Gambia, a civil society organization formed by Gambian human rights activists from diverse backgrounds in the EU, West and Southern Africa, UK, and the US, made this call in the wake of the recent announcement on September 4, 2021, by the interim leader of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), Fabakary Tombong Jatta, of a political merger between Yahya Jammeh’s party and president Adama Barrow’s National Peoples’ Party (NPP) for the 2021 Presidential election.

In a statement issued this Monday, “Right to Know” describes the new Yahya Jammeh-Adama Barrow alliance as “The culmination of the ultimate political and moral betrayal of the Gambian people. It is a sign of weakness and the actions of a desperate head of state which remains determined to do whatever he deems necessary to cling to office, no matter the consequences“.

Setting the stage of the critical picture every Gambian needs not to miss as regards the December 4th presidential election, “R2K Gambia ” indicates that “On the ballot on December 4 is the choice between the restoration and merger of a corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent regime that Gambians rejected on the one hand; and, on the other, the forces of democracy, pluralism, and progress that the opposition parties represent. The stakes could not be higher for The Gambia in the near term and generations unborn.”

According to the Gambian Civil Society platform, The Gambia has reached that moment when “Successful nations are led at critical moments by citizens who can summon the courage to look beyond partisanship and understand that leadership means setting aside personal ambition to advance the common good when the national interest must take precedence over each party’s interest and each party leader’s ambition.”

In what looks to be a stern warning, the “Right to Know” warns political parties, the Gambian people, and opposition aspiring presidential candidates that “The realization that the country’s peaceful future, political stability, and economic recovery are under threat.”

The organization cautions strongly that although an expanded field of candidates vying for the nation’s highest office is commendable, “A fractured opposition plays into a Jammeh-Barrow strategy, elevating their chances for re-election and ushering in a full circle and a return to autocracy, tyranny, kleptocracy, and impunity (as uncovered by the Janneh Commission and the TRRC). Gambians rejected these unacceptable traits in December 2016, only to see a total reversal under an APRC-NPP alliance five years later“.

Therefore, according to this Gambian Civil Society platform, the logical and moral response “must surely be a united opposition to ensure that this axis of evil is defeated.”

The “Right to Know” calls for a broad coalition to prevent impunity and defeat the prospect of Yahya Jammeh and Adama Barrow implementing their gloomy agenda on Gambians.

The Right to Know Statement reads, “We call on all the opposition parties to form a grand coalition to oppose the Jammeh-Barrow candidacy. The best path to victory on December 4 is for all the parties to rally support behind a credible coalition candidate under one umbrella. A shared victory will unite the country, reduce the polarization in our politics and the possibility of a contested election result. But, more importantly, it will also prevent the culture of impunity now being entrenched by a Jammeh-Barrow alliance and instead, promote transparency, accountability, justice, and good governance“.

According to the “Right to Know,” by failing to unify and have multiple candidates corral vigorously behind one presidential candidate, we risk handing victory to President Barrow, and by extension, to Yahya Jammeh under the current first-past-the post-elections rule; something that the CRC 2020 draft constitution would have addressed.

Reminding the opposition of one obvious calculated failure by President Adama Barrow with high stakes at play, the “Right to Know” recalls that “Sadly, the very proponents and possible benefactors of this cynical political merger succeeded in destroying the possibility of a ’50 plus one’ threshold as proposed in the draft constitution. As a result, our elections are now relegated to the 1997 Constitution, which has been so severely tampered with and abused that it is no longer fit for purpose“.

The Right to know has also announced that in conjunction with this declaration, it has established a working group to engage the political parties to convene an exploratory meeting to discuss the conditions under which they could form a coalition. If the parties agree to proceed, the organization’s objective is to complete the selection process by October 15, 2021.

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