The ouster of one of the most brutal and longest -serving African dictators, by a coalition of opposition parties through democratic means, has been universally hailed as a study in revolution by peaceful means. The fact that Gambians voted en masse to choose a new leader after 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal tyranny is no mean feat. Their ability to resist the temptation of taking to the streets after Jammeh retracted his concession ,amid credible threat of foreign military intervention, is no less commendable.
Keen observers of Gambia’s political land scape had always predicted that only a coalition of opposition parties could beat Jammeh at the polls given advantages of incumbency, as well as the stinging dearth of free media to enhance a level political playing field .Despite the overwhelming challenges; they persevered and pushed the limits of possibilities which resulted in the ultimate triumph of human spirit.
However, setting about the task of killing them all so that the revolution can be worth the hope on which it is hinged , to my mind, is the fierce urgency of now. My position is based on the glaring fact that the coalition is composed of political parties who have legitimate expectations of being handed plum jobs in the new administration. The fact that Barrow is stepping down after a 3-year transition period is a recipe for disastrous distraction at best , and governmental paralysis at worst .With this arrangement, I can say with a substantial degree of certainty that the Barrow government is gonna be derailed by internecine jockeying and jostling for power and influence.
The natural consequence will not just be paralysis in government , but strong temptations to plunder the public till. Halifa Sallah and Mai Ahmed Fatty have already been involved in an epic battle for supremacy as spokesmen of the coalition , to the rage and entertainment of the stunned masses. This is a clear indication of the high drama in store for the electorate who had expected more from the opposition than puerile bickering over who is the spokesman.
This kind of behavior must be nipped in the bud due to its tendency to lead to paralysis ,which constitutes a cocktail for the divided military to intervene in our politics again.
Yahya Jammeh has categorically stated that he is going to remain loyal to his party which implies that he is not above an attempt at return in future elections, however improbable it may sound.
First off, Dr. Isatou Touray legitimately expected to follow in the footsteps of former Vice President, Dr Isatou Njie Saidy , as deputy to Adama Barrow. She was overlooked in favour of Fatoumatta Tambajang whose appointment has inspired frenzied reaction on social media due to its alleged violation of the constitution. Even before the new government gets to work, a person allegedly close to Dr. Touray has started feeding Gambian journalist Pa Nderry with information compromising on Fatoumatta Tambajang.
It’s not entirely inconceivable that at the conclusion of three years of transition , she might set her eyes on the presidency with her feminist leanings and potential ambition to shatter the glass ceiling as has been done by Elaine Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia. She is a very strong character whom I do not expect to keep her burning ambitions at bay in the interest of the coalition government in anticipation of her future independent run for the top job.
Moreover, we cannot safely assume at this material time that lawyer Darboe will not want to see a longtime dream of becoming Gambian president actualized at the end of the transition period with a possible constitutional amendment allowing him to do so. If so, how will he look upon the ascendancy of Isatou Touray in a nascent Barrow government? A little dose of reality is in order of here: Barrow is the president by title but the major decisions are gonna be made by lawyer Darboe with possible stiff competition form Halifa. This is likely to turn the coalition of the wiling that toppledJammeh to a coalition of rich comedy and intrigue.
The leader of PDOIS , Halifa Sallah , with his work ethic and reputation for honesty should be a veritable asset to the coalition. However, with his loyalty to PDOIS and its band of indoctrinated socialist supporters , he is most likely to make a stab at the presidency on his own at the end of the transition . He is not likely to triumph in a presidential run on his own merit. But that’s not to say he won’t try. There is probable cause to believe he too will use his position in the Barrow government as a launching pad to the presidency. Halifa is very articulate and has a reputation for rigidity and making cold calculations which is bound to put him on collision course with Lawyer Darboe .
Hamat Bah, NRP leader, is a talentless and clueless politician with little to offer than bombast and comedy. With a CV that includes serving as entertainment manager in a local hotel and alleged mismanagement of millions entrusted to him by Nigerian investors. Hamat Bah is known for inconsistency .He cannot be trusted to run a ministry with the required honesty and competence. And what’s more, he is likely to try to capitalize on fula support to take the State House in the future elections.
GMC leader, Mai Fatty, could be useful to the new government with his mild intellectual fortitude and experience as a lawyer. He had already done a good job as close adviser to Barrow during his succinct exile in Senegal .And what’s more, he may not be averse to embarking on the liquidation of his party due to his Mandingo/Jahanka provenances, as well as prior successful collaboration with Darboe.
Henry Gomez, GPDP leader, has proven to be malleable and open to political mergers in the past. He holds vast potential as vote-getter among minority manjago and Christian population. He doesn’t seem to carry much risk of wanting to splinter from the coalition if he is kept sweet with a good position. He has little by way of formal education and talents to be able to strike out on his own in a country of accelerating competition, complexity and change.
The coalition must tear up and burn its prior agreement which requires Barrow to stand down after the transition , effectively allowing him to contest the next presidential polls.The coalition must die to be born again . For because a political entity that is not busy being born is busy dying.
Written By Sainey Darboe
Sainey Darboe is a US-based Gambian journalist and former editor-chief of Standard newspaper.