By Omar Bah
Reacting to the IEC’s postponement of the voter registration at a massive political rally in Jimara, the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress leader has warned the electoral body that any error in 2021 election could compromise the country’s stability.
The IEC last Monday announced in a terse statement that the voter registration exercise slated for January 14th has been postponed until further notice, citing unspecified logistical challenges. The move angered and worried many political players in the opposition and ordinary Gambians.
But speaking on Sunday while addressing a large gathering at a meeting in Kokeh village in Jimara, Mamma Kandeh warned: “I want to tell the IEC that the peace, security and stability of The Gambia is in their hands. Whatever happens before and after the 2021 presidential election, they will be held responsible.”
“What happened in 2016 should never happen in this country again. They should be warned that we will not be intimidated. They are supposed to be referees. If they attempt to suppress anyone in favor of another, we will react in the strongest possible term. We are putting our lives on the line to salvage this country from the ongoing dirty politics,” he warned.
Kandeh said Gambians unfairly blamed Jammeh for rejecting the 2016 election results.
“We should blame the IEC for being negligent. They nearly put this country up in flames,” he said.
Kandeh has also denied President Adama Barrow’s claims that he had extended invitation to him to join him as a fellow native of Jimara district.
The two men, now leaders of different political parties, have a long history of political rivalry since 2007 when Kandeh defeated Barrow in the constituency’s National Assembly election.
Addressing a meeting in Sotuma during his meet the people tour, Barrow said he feels personally embarrassed as the leader of the country and native of Jimara, that a few of his main opposition members are natives of Jimara in Alagie Sowe, the NAM and Mamma Kandeh, the leader of the GDC.
But in response, Kandeh argued: “Barrow came here and said he had extended invitation to me to join him as a fellow native of Jimara district. He is hearing me right now I challenge him to tell the Gambians where and when he invited me. That is not true. It has never happened.”
“If Barrow wants to regionalize his government, he should start with his own people of Mankamang Kunda. There is a man in his own compound who is still riding a bicycle. I’m not the only son of Jimara. I will only work with him if he cleans his rubbish government first. I don’t want to work with a government that is dirty and untruthful. I am not somebody he can carry along,” he said.
Kandeh admitted that some people came to him claiming that Barrow sent them but he has since asked them to tell Barrow to call him personally but he (Barrow) never did. “If Barrow needs me, he should call me. I understand that some people in Jimara are planning to mobilise some elders to convince me to work with Barrow because we are all sons of Jimara and should not be opponents. I am waiting for them. I just want to advise the GDC to stay away from that delegation,” he said.
He assured the people of Jimara that if he ever joins Barrow or any other political party, he will declare it himself but “no one will declare it for me. I want you to be wary of NPP supporters going round telling people it is bad to be in the opposition. When they tell you that, ask them what were they doing in the opposition for the past years.”
“Barrow should be very careful of those who are following him, giving him the impression that he has support because 80% of them are just following their pockets. They don’t like him,” he said.
The former Jimara NAM also downplayed claims that the GDC is dying, arguing that those claiming the party is dead are just expressing their wish but God will never do that.
Hamat Bah alleged tribalism
Kandeh has also issued a strong warning to all Fulas, saying they should ignore Tourism Minister Hamat Bah’s tribal rhetoric and see The Gambia first.
“Hamat’s claim that he has packed his party because Fulas have now found a Fula president in Barrow is dangerous and deceptive. No one should fall for it because Hamat is lying; he has not packed his party, instead the party is dead. He is fooling the Fulas. There is no tribe that can lead this country alone,” he said.