The GPDP Leader Hon. Henry Gomez and GMC Leader Lawyer Mai Ahmad Fatty, have inked a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their parties, creating a formal alliance known as ‘The Peoples’ Alliance’; signed by the two Party Leaders on the 17th March 2016. It was the result of series of intense consultations between the two sides. The two leaders, mandated by their national leaderships, seek to synergize their efforts and actions towards the enthronement of credible electoral and electioneering processes in The Gambia.
Both parties have actively pushed for the implementation of the understanding reached among the group of six opposition parties, on securing comprehensive electoral reforms for the conduct of credible elections, as a pre-condition for holding elections in The Gambia. They noted that this was what gave birth to “G – 6” and the main reason why they were excluded from the last parliamentary elections of 2012. They emphasized their loyalty to the principles of G-6 which remains morally binding on all member parties. They anchored their position on the premise that inclusive, credible electoral and electioneering systems are the greatest bastion of democratic pluralism, without which the will of the voters shall be usurped.
According to the leaders, abandoning the principles upon which G-6 was created, would amount to a betrayal of the voters and their conscience. They said they have no reason to change their position on the commitments they made under G-6 in 2012, because the political atmosphere and the conduct of the operators of the system have deteriorated further. There has been no positive change in the reasons that excluded the opposition’s participation from 2012 elections.
They underscored the relevance of G-6 principles adopted by another opposition body known as “Gambia Opposition For Electoral Reform” (GOFER).. They referred to GOFER’s 11th May 2015 set of formulated formal demands unanimously signed by all opposition parties and submitted to the IEC and the Speaker of the National Assembly. The demands contained equitable framework for ensuring the creation of a level political infrastructure for holding credible elections. They reiterated that this document was also rejected by implication in its implementation, by the IEC and the National Assembly. They averred that the electoral system has been further emasculated by the Elections (Amendments)Act 2015. These amendments, according to the two Party Leaders, were drafted and passed without any prior consultations with the opposition or civil society. Consequently, the statute is devastatingly exclusionary, discriminatory and unconstitutional, further weakening opposition parties and imposing draconian conditions on the formation, operation, management and funding of political parties.
The two Party Leaders asserted their resolve to ensure the sovereign rights of Gambians to credible elections and constitutionally compliant governance practices. They stated that the legitimacy of the IEC and its integrity is being put to serious task with the expiry of the tenure of its chairman, an unconstitutional travesty that must be remedied urgently.
This, together with the fatally anomalous electoral and electioneering situation, render the conduct of credible elections an impossible exercise. They call on the IEC, the APRC and all stakeholders to commit themselves to a genuine electoral process, and also urged their colleagues in the opposition to join them in their joint efforts, in enthroning the true aspirations of the voters.
According to them, they will not put their personal political ambition above the interest of the public. The ‘Peoples’ Alliance’ commitment to achieving equitable electoral reforms shall not be extinguished by political convenience. They encourage all stakeholders, including the ruling party, for a constructive national dialogue on the way forward. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work with those who are engaged in efforts to unite the opposition on a consensus principle. They revealed their intention to adopt common policy position and action on matters relating to democratic reforms, issues relating to credible elections, and consultations on a consensus approach.
Both GMC and GPDP are prepared to contest elections. They called on the IEC to assure the processes leading towards the elections be free and fair, from now, and not just during scheduled campaign period.