We feel obliged to respond to Mr. Jobarteh’s request to not select a flag bearer instead to follow the leadership of Dr. Isatou Touray, an independent candidate for president. We in the UDP feel that Mr. Jobarteh as a citizen of the Gambia has every right to support any political party, however, he does not have the right to call on the UDP not to name a flag bearer for their party. As a result, we feel entitled to address some of the points he raised in his letter address to the leadership of UDP.
We feel naturally difficult to stomach the arrogance that Mr. Madi Jobarteh dared come up with in his letter saying: “I wish to humbly suggest that UDP should not identify any candidate instead to rally behind Isatou.” He went on further to write that, “By rallying behind Isatou, by default UDP will, therefore, put pressure on PDOIS, NRP and GDC to comply otherwise each of them will risk being on the wrong side of history. This definitely shows that Mr. Jobarteh’s image of himself, Dr. Touray’s exploits and his own venture in this matter are each by itself quite delusional if not entirely quixotic. Look at this, “UDP needs to approach Isatou to agree on an agenda for the coalition and the unity government in terms of distribution of cabinet positions and the duration of her government. She has already set herself for the full term. This should not be contentious if you cannot get her reduce it to 3 years. We are in an abnormal situation and therefore there is no point to insist on issues that are not life-threatening such as between 3 and 5 years.” So, according to Mr. Jobarteh, it is the UDP that needs to approach Isatou and not the other way round. Who does he think is Isatou who must expect a twenty-year-old political party, to approach her, a single individual who had all the time from being politically shy to suddenly feeling politically inspired? Is that not enough reason to be questionable? No, Jobarteh went on further. Does this not suggest sheer political opportunism by Madi on behalf of Dr. Isatou? No, it does not seem so to Mr. Jobarteh, for he continues.
He wrote “UDP must realize that at this moment the release of Ousainou and colleagues in jail and justice for the killings and torture of your party members must be UDP’s foremost preoccupation. But this is more difficult to do, if not impossible so long as Jammeh is in power. Thus, UDP must be bluntly analytical and strategic in seeking to facilitate a regime change in order to save its members in jail. The party can do this by leading from behind and therefore dominate or control the environment. At this moment the only way the party can do this is to forge an alliance with Isatou for the election. Thus, the issue is how does UDP use all its efforts to bring all the parties to support Isatou and save the nation.” Why does Mr. Jobarteh think supporting Dr. Touray is the only way of saving our country. Who is Dr. Touray to make supporting her so crucial in the struggle to save the nation? Common sense would have taught Mr. Jobarteh that ever since the inception of UDP in 1996, it has been in the forefront of the struggle to salvage our country from the clutches of Jammeh’s tyranny and political decadence.
It’s an axiom that Dr. Touray and her GAMCOTRAP group have contributed a lot in the fight against the traditional practice of female genital cutting, but that is not the be all and the end all of the woman condition in the Gambia.
Taking it to be a matter of games, in fact, a game of cards, Mr. Jobarteh wrote: “It is clear that the other parties will not stand behind UDP, and the idea of primaries proposed by PDOIS is untenable. Thus what these parties will not concede to UDP or each other, they may be forced by circumstances to concede to Isatou provided UDP knows quite well how to play its card.” So from this, it looks like Mr. Madi Jobarteh is calling on the support for Dr. Touray’s presidential bid as a matter of convenience! First, the UDP should support Isatou if they want their imprisoned leadership out and alive, and now also, they should do it as a matter of convenience. What rabid opportunism! To press this point, further Jobarteh wrote, “Failure to do this, I think we will potentially see Jammeh win the election, and therefore the release of Darboe and Co will rest on his whims and caprices. The longer it takes for that to happen also endangers the lives of these inmates given their old age and state of health and conditions in prison”. Politics is a game of win or lose, however, there is no guarantee that backing Dr. Touray would mean victory for the opposition. It seems that Mr. Jobarteh is trying so hard to create discord between political parties in the Gambia. How do you know that other parties will not stand behind UDP? Mr. Jobarteh should understand that not all is gloom in the horizon. The various opposition parties have held series of meetings geared towards forming a united front against Jammeh. We don’t foresee any party taking a back seat in this trying times when the survival of our Nation is at stake .
Then Mr. Madi wrote, “Thus for me; there is no value for UDP to identify a candidate because, in any case, it is not going to get a coalition behind it. If it does not get that, it means we are going to have at least 5 candidates – UDP, Isatou, Halifa, Hamat, and Mama. This is the right recipe for Jammeh victory. UDP must forestall this scenario from taking place.” But without Dr. Isatou Touray it was a scenario of four against Jammeh, now with her it has become a more complicated five rivaling opposing candidates. If Madi was so concerned why didn’t he talk her out of trying to further complicate matters by standing as an independent candidate without first talking to the established opposition parties to let them sponsor her candidacy? Why?
In his final paragraph, Mr. Madi Jobarteh advises the UDP leadership lower all emotions, and think out of the box like they were in a box. How laughable, how arrogant and disrespectful!
We think Mr. Jobarteh should understand that the UDP was not formed to get its members out of Yahya Jammeh’s jails but to ultimately free the whole of the Gambian nation from Yahya Jammeh’s capricious reign of terror. Scores of UDP’s supporters, including fallen heroes like Seedia Sanyang, Butay Boy, Kaniba Kanyi, the Two Solos and many, many more, have laid down their lives for the struggle to get back our country. They cannot be forgotten just because of the opportunistic words of so-called civil society activists like Madi Jobarteh, who as cowards try to pretend that being in NGOs means they should not be in politics. They must be made to know that all the NGO issues are political issues. To be politically partisan is one thing but to be political is another. The struggle against a fascistic, tribalistic autocracy of the Jammeh-type is one for all, including all the NGOs. So Dr. Touray’s venture into politics is not what you present it to be.
Fellow countrywomen and men, let us chart out a viable roadmap without bogging ourselves down to empty rhetoric and intellectual masturbation. Let us debate with the aim of finally coming together to take back our nation. Let us debate with respect and harmony.