Bakary Bunja Dabo, leader Gambia For All party

The Central Committee, the principal directorate organ of the Gambia For All party, met in extra-ordinary session over the weekend.

In its review of recent developments in the life of the nation, the meeting took off time to reflect on the recently concluded presidential election, and its outcome.

Context: In that regard, the Central Committee recalled that the 04 December election was held against the backdrop of persistent complex challenges that our country faced, amidst the widely shared perception that the five-year-old Adama Barrow-led coalition administration had given ample evidence of its inability, as well as its lack of commitment, to operate real change.

A change away from the governance system that operated through executive lawlessness, administrative malfeasance and a culture of impunity. It had been a primitive regime, and a culture of doing business, which over a period of 22 years brutalised our people, paying scant regard to their civil or even human rights.

This disastrous stewardship left behind a balance sheet that read: [1] a state brought down to its knees, encumbered with dysfunctional institutions and lacking the capacity to respond to the legitimate welfare and development aspirations of our people, [2] an economy in ruins, [3] a society dangerously polarised and [4] a demoralised population.

As a result, the period that led up to the election was dominated by pervasive social tensions and political agitation, with numerous forces emerging on the national scene to advocate change.

Issue: For its part, Gambia For All maintained its long-standing call for transformative change through comprehensive constitutional and institutional reforms, modernisation of our governance norms and processes and economic revival.

Seeing such change as holding out the key to putting in place the necessary parameters for consolidating our democracy and making it more vibrant, for reconciling the nation through appropriate transitional justice processes and for bold initiatives to revamp the economy, put our people back to work and create conditions for recovery and a sustainable answer to the complex social and environmental crises that today overwhelm our country. We believe, and do understand, that by booting out the wretched dictatorship in 2016, our people sent out a clear and unmistakable message emphasizing the imperative need for such change.

Against that backdrop, Gambia For All approached the December 04 election advocating an agenda of change and sought out like-minded parties and other political forces with a proposal for forming a common front considered essential for taking on the Barrow-led juggernaut within the context of our first-past-the-post electoral system.

Eventually, when hopes of mounting a broad front were scuppered by the impasse over the choice of standard bearer, our party, still pursuing the ideal of unity of forces committed to change, settled for the next best formula which consisted of endorsing the candidacy of Mr ANM Ousainou Darboe, candidate selected by the United Democratic Party. The United Democratic Party is a long-established party whose wide following in the country, as well as its capacity to mobilise the critical numbers needed for effectiveness, could not be disputed.

The Polls: The election has since come and gone with the official results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission, creating a new reality on the ground, which the Central Committee acknowledged.

It congratulated the Gambian people on this one further step on the road to consolidating our democracy and wished President Adama Barrow well as he stands poised to take on his new lease of stewardship.

Meanwhile, some candidates who had contested the same election, including Mr ANM Ousainou Darboe, have for their part raised concerns over the integrity of the process and warned that they might dispute the polls, a threat which the United Democratic Party for its part has since carried out by filing an action at the Supreme Court by seeking that the court rules on the validity or otherwise of the election.

On this particular point, the meeting recalled that our party’s position has been that it was only right that, where they found ground for doing so, aggrieved parties sought redress by all lawful means.

Flowing from our decision to endorse their candidate for the election, Gambia For All campaigned together, and worked closely, with the United Democratic Party. From that vantage point, we are better placed than most to understand the concerns being aired by that party in the matter; we now wish them good luck in their search for justice.