The political marriage among Gambia’s opposition Transitional ruling government, has prematurely ended ahead of the April National Assembly elections, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), has opted out from the political marriage. The party has communicated its intention of sponsoring UDP candidates in the coming National Assembly elections—opposed to the envisaged Transitional independent candidates as advocated for by the opposition PDOIS, the PPP and other political parties forming the alliance government headed by President Adama Barrow of the UDP.
The political breakaway occurred on Tuesday, as party leaders from the opposition PDOIS and the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) couldn’t convince the veteran Gambian politician Ousainou Darboe of the opposition UDP to stick to the Transition Memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the transition government to strategize and sponsor independent candidates in the coming legislative elections. The UDP and the NRP under leadership of Hamat Bah, are opposed to such a move. Both parties have supported the idea of party sponsored candidates and not transition government sponsored independent candidates.
The political fallout came in the wake of the repealing of the Election Act; the amendment of the age limit associated with the office of the President and Vice President respectively, and the extension of the tenure of members of the bench. The proposed changes were unanimously approved by the former Ruling APRC MPs. Interior Minister Mai Fatty tabled the proposed constitutional changes on behalf of Justice Minister Baa Tambadou.
The PDOIS leadership were in attendance at the meeting, including Sidia Jatta. The breakaway has led to some officials shedding tears at the meeting. It was a somber meeting. The PDOIS folks would have loved to see a transition government sponsored candidates and not party led, sources said.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Imam Baba Leigh, a respected Gambian Imam, was reportedly sent to talk to the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe to reconsider his party’s decision to part company with the coalition of opposition parties ahead of the impending April elections. Mr. Leigh, who just returned home after years in exile in the United States, couldn’t meet Darboe on his first visit to the politician’s home.
It is not clear under whose errand Mr. Leigh has embarked on, but sources said OJ Jallow of the PPP, has repeatedly said that the political marriage should be maintained until after the expiration of president’s Barrow’s three year mandate. But OJ’s calls for an opposition unity has fallen into deaf ears, one source intimated.
Mr. Barrow was voted for five years constitutional mandate, but the alliance government has agreed to preside over a transitional government of three years, which is opposed to the five years constitutional mandate.
A press release is expected to be issued by the parties, who have opted out from the political marriage hopefully on Wednesday, sources said. This paper can report that the UDP and the NRP have divorced the existing transitional parties.
The transition government couldn’t be reached for comment.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai