Barely less than twenty four hours after Halifa Sallah convened what was called a press conference to brief Gambians about an agreement reached by the opposition to organize a convention—with the view of selecting a flag bearer in the upcoming elections, Independent Presidential Candidate Isatou Touray, has come up with a counter statement expressing disagreement on some of the proposals contained in the convention document, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Ms. Touray, branded a particular section of the draft agreement for the proposed convention, in which she personally appended her signature to as not only too broad, premature, but incoherent as well. “The signed draft agreement which contains a number of committees are at best too broad, pre-mature and incoherent and at worse inadequate to address the fundamental issues that must be highlighted and agreed upon. Hence my campaign has proposed a modified version that is more comprehensive and relevant to our circumstances,” she said. Isatou’s latest differing views on the proposed convention, goes to show that the opposition’s attempts to come together has suffered a major setback. Below is Isatou’s Touray’s full statement.
Proposals for Opposition Convention Submitted to GOFER by Dr. Isatou Touray as a follow up on the draft agreement, October 17, 2016.
Dr. Isatou Touray welcomes and is highly committed to the process for the building up of the opposition coalition for the purpose of ending 22 years of tyranny and restoring democracy to the Gambia on December 1.
While Dr. Touray has signed the draft agreement on Friday October 14, the campaign is of the view that there needs a more explicit and strategic framework agreement covering the convention and identification of an opposition flag bearer, the election campaign and the composition of the unity government to usher in the third republic.
The signed draft agreement which contains a number of committees are at best too broad, pre-mature and incoherent and at worse inadequate to address the fundamental issues that must be highlighted and agreed upon. Hence my campaign has proposed a modified version that is more comprehensive and relevant to our circumstances.
The modified agreement that is being proposed is the ‘Framework Agreement for the Coalition of Opposition Parties in the Gambia for the 2016 Presidential Election and Composition of Government of National Unity.’ This Framework Agreement is expected to address the current and the ongoing situations that will arise as we seek change in our country. The various sections of this Framework Agreement are hereby proposed such that if consensus is achieved, it can be fully developed for signature. Fundamental questions and issues are raised to guide the development of the Framework Agreement.
Sections 1 and 2 relate the convention and the campaign foe the election, while Sections 3 and 4 relate to the transitional government of national unity. For each section, key issues and tasks have been identified for discussion and development upon agreement.
1. Methodology for Opposition Convention to Elect a Flag Bearer
a. Composition of Delegates: Identification, number and types of delegates.
b. Mode of Election Process:
To determine where the election will be held and how. Are all delegates to travel to a particular location or will election be held in respective venues? Who will oversee or conduct the elections? Will candidates be required to deliver speeches/manifestos to delegates or not? Is the election by a simple or absolute majority? If there is a second round of voting, when shall this be?
c. Announcement of Results:
How will the results be announced and by who? How will we address contestation or rejection of results by other stakeholders?
d. Declaration of Opposition Flag Bearer: When, where and how will the winner of the election be declared as the flag bearer of the opposition coalition? What will be the role and position of all other leaders of the opposition? How will the nomination of the flag bearer be done?
2. Election Campaign Strategy
a. Campaign Structure and Outline:
With the announcement of the flag bearer, how will the campaign be conducted? What are the roles and responsibilities of parties and leaders of the coalition in the campaign? Will there be a central coordination committee for the campaign and what is the composition? What other committees will be set up? Where will be the headquarters of the coalition?
b. Resource Mobilisation:
How will the campaign be funded? What contribution will each party make? How will the Diaspora contribution be managed? How will the resources of the campaign be managed? Who is the chief accounting officer of campaign resources? What reporting mechanisms will be created?
c. Campaign Messages:
What are the key messages and talking points of the campaign? Who will deliver the messages? How will speakers at rallies be identified? What media channels and products be utilised? Who will be the spokesperson for the national campaign?
d. Campaign Ethics and Standards:
What code of conduct will guide the campaign in its messages, rallies, leaders and supporters?
3. Composition of Unity Government
a. Transitional Arrangements for the Unity Government:
What is the duration of the transitional government?
b. Number of Cabinet Positions:
How many ministerial positions will be created? What are they?
c. Position of Vice President:
Where will the vice president come? How do we indentify the view president?
d. Distribution of Ministerial Positions:
How will the rest of the Cabinet positions be distributed? What is the process? What is the qualification?
e. Distribution of key government agencies:
How do we fill positions for key state institutions: public enterprises, statutory institutions and security apparatus?
4. Roadmap of the Unity Government
a. Annual Work plan of Government:
Identification of tasks and targets per quarter.
b. List of Constitutional amendments:
How do we conduct constitutional review? What is the basis for the review and changes? Will there be a referendum and how?
c. List of legal reviews:
What pieces of legislature should be reviewed? To be repealed, reformed and created?
d. Identification and review of institutional arrangements:
A review of state institutions including security apparatuses in terms of their mandate, location and composition.
e. Setting up of Commissions of Enquiry: What commissions of enquiry need to be set up, when and how? What will there mandates be?
i. Truth and Justice Commission
ii. Commission on the Review and Release of Political Prisoners
This proposal could be developed in stages. Fundamentally it is important that Section 1 (Methodology for Opposition Convention to Elect a Flag Bearer) and Section 2 (Election Campaign Strategy) are developed now for the purpose of the convention. The rest of the sections could be developed from thereon before the elections so that they are finalised. We felt it is necessary to lay down these regulations and guidelines so as to strengthen the coalition by generating more confidence and trust and maintaining the momentum that is building. With such guidelines, it also prevents distractions along the way.
National Assembly Elections 2017
Given the fact that the National Assembly Elections will take place within the first three months of 2017, there is a need to discuss the nature and role of the coalition in that election. These discussions should begin in earnest. The modalities for the participation of the coalition should be identified and put in place. This is significant simply because there cannot be any constitutional and legal changes without a parliamentary structure in place.