First of all Pa, thank you for hosting the Dr. Isatou Touray’s team on your popular Leral show. Well, if you think I am praising you…..On a more serious note Pa, let me begin by invoking the qualifications for a presidential candidate. Senegal is ten times the population size of the Gambia. Senegal had the first Francophone University in West Africa and many francophone nationals in West Africa got their degrees from Dakar University now Sheikh Anta Diop University. The constitution of Senegal says in order for one to be qualified for presidential candidate, one must only be able to read, write and speak French. No other academic qualification is required. Why? Because they don’t want to disenfranchise people especially those that got their education in the Arabic language or other languages. More so the office of the president is a political office. It is not an academic office. If a politician wins, he or she can surround self with technocrats to govern. It is a worldwide fact that the office of the president is EXCLUSIVELY a political office period. Therefore the debate for qualification should be laid to rest period.
Now for twenty years, the opposition political parties on the ground could not come together and file one candidate against Jammeh, that’s a fact. But the GDC and Mama Kandeh were not responsible for the old opposition’s failure to file one candidate. So one cannot hold Mama Kandeh responsible for those failures.
Mama Kandeh was expelled from the APRC in 2013 and from that date on he was laying the groundwork for creating his own political party. In order to be registered a bona-fide party, one must produce 5000 registered voters cards with their signatures from each region and Mama Kandeh exceeded that requirement meaning he did a lot of groundwork for voters to trust and endorse him. One can say that it is the grass root voters that are supporting Mama Kandeh without doubt. Since Mama started his campaign trail Gambians came out in numbers to attend his rallies and meetings throughout the Gambia. Whether these attendees will vote for him or not is a different debate. The fact is he is pulling a lot of crowd. Where this crowd comes from is also a different debate.
Now for my sister Isatou Touray, to be influenced by certain people specially women to present herself as an independent candidate and thereafter they will impose on political parties to surrender to her is very difficult pepper to digest. Isatou should have done what Mama Kandeh did on the political field and thereafter solicits the flag bearer ship knowing she establish the fact that the grass root voters are with her. Then she can be listen to and taken seriously. But to wake up one day three months before elections and ask the other political parties to do the job for you simply because you will serve only one term or that you are the most academically qualified candidate and is a woman for that matter…hum! To me it is like some one who just wakes up and say I am the Messiah follow me and work for me. Reality is we are not at war in the Gambia. We are only fighting a dictator through the little democratic means available to us. Each candidate must first demonstrate his or her political weight on the ground before asking others to endorse you. But asking other political parties to do your campaign and possibly fund you as well, hum! That’s a hot pepper for others to eat for you.
In all fairness, in a situation like this, we are better of supporting the most popular candidate likely to win Jammeh than choosing someone simply based on her academic background, NGO activities or gender. Real politics dictates that popularity; charisma and political skills are the determining factor in choosing a president. Does Isatou have these qualities more than Mama Kandeh? Both Isatou and Mama are first time presidential candidates, Gambians will have the last say through the ballot box come December 1st Inshallah.
In the meantime, the debate continues and I fully endorse what Soldier Lamin Gano said in his last blog posting about choosing the flag bearer after nomination day.
If I offended some women especially the sensitive feminists, please forgive me, but democratic electoral campaign is not about gender or intellectualism. It is about real politics.
Thank you for your attention.
Written By Baboucarr Bojang.