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Leaders of some political parties are making their views heard over what they feel about Adama Barrow’s led Coalition Government, but with sharp criticism. Halifa Sallah, leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), has said that The Gambia is far from achieving targets in ensuring unity and progress. Speaking at a press briefing at his office in Churchill’s Town on Wednesday, he said even though the leadership of the country has changed, there are lots more to be decided. Mr Sallah, who is elected National Assembly member for Serrekunda Central, said people must change for the aspired changes to be realized.

He recollected that the agenda of forming the coalition government was to effect change of government and elect parliament that would review existing laws and make laws, which the government would implement presidential term limits, among others.

“We agreed in the beginning to elect a president that will not overstay, and after serving three years such person will not contest the next election. This is what Barrow agreed and was elected at the 1st December 2017 presidential elections,” Sallah said.

According to the new parliamentarian, the constitution requires the president to conduct elections three months before the end of his term in office.

He continued:  “That was why Yahya Jammeh stayed three months to prepare to leave after he was defeated in election.  He first accepted defeat, but later rejected.  This led to intervention of the international community to ensure that Yahya Jammeh step down, and Barrow took over from him on 19 January 2017.

“We all agreed that President Adama Barrow be elected as an independent candidate to lead the coalition and to elect independent candidates as National Assembly members under the coalition government.  But some parties insist that they wanted to sustain their parties that was why we contested under our individual parties, instead of contesting as independent candidates under the coalition, as we agreed upon earlier.”

“Our priority is building new foundation for The Gambia to ensure good governance, respect for human rights.  However, we have not yet escape crisis.  We have not yet escape the past dilemmas considering the way things are moving.

“The instruments for parliament are Standing Orders that should be built to ensure transparency and accountability. There need to be a legal person to help build the legal instruments. We need to educate members of parliament on the laws to enable them sensitize the people.  There is need to build trust among members to avoid partisan interest to supersedes national interests.”

“The majority in parliament is the UDP and they using partisan politics.  It wouldn’t make difference with the APRC government if they decide to be praise-singers only. We need to move from self-perpetuated government to building Gambia for Gambians. What we want is all Gambians to be winners.

“Our hope is that the new beginning will lead to us to the Third Republic.  However what we had was partisan campaigns as the president went for campaign and some parties were using his image during the campaigns.

“The nation is still a divided nation.”

Hon. Sallah, who was the coordinator of the coalition, explained that even though UDP dominates in parliament that does not mean they carry weight more than the rest of the parties in parliament as they do not form 2/3rd majority which is needed for impeachment of president.

According to Sallah, considering the percentages at constituency levels, UDP might win the seats, but that does not mean they dominate results of all parties in a particular constituency.

“It is said that Gambia has decided, but Gambia has not decided because there are still partisan politics.  We are demanding for equality, unity and work for a common good of the nation. As long as that is not achieved we have not yet decided,” he said.

“Yesterday we were called in parliament and there was no Speaker yet, the Chief Justice stepped in, but he had to operate based on laws; parliament debate on the rules and procedures.

He recommended that parliament need to hire a legal person that will draft legislative policy based on which the parliament operates.

In a similar development, Gambia Democratic Congress leader Mamma Kandeh on Monday convened a press conference, saying his party is maintaining its position on rejecting the election results until clarifications are made by the IEC regarding the alleged irregularities.

“Until we apply what we need to apply as a party, and of course to respect and apply the rule of law, the GDC position is saying no to many constituencies where declarations were made, or where irregularities happened,” the GDC leader maintained.

He said they would continue to do their ground work to be able to come up with concrete evidence, because they don’t want to violate any law, as GDC is known for being a peaceful party and one that respects rule of law.

Mr Kandeh said he is having issues with President Barrow’s meet the peoples’ tour during the campaign period, which he noted had influenced the voting pattern of the electorate, to go in favour of those regarded as coalition candidates.

His said his party will scrutinize the results, adding: “We will make sure whatever we put on the table is concrete evidence.” 

Barrow, who is not member of any political party, went round campaigning for political parties’ so-called Coalition candidates. 

MeanwhileFabakary Tombong Jatta, APRC Party Leader, has cast doubts on the result slips given to their party polling and counting agents.

He said the IEC agents were not giving their party polling and counting agents certified copies of the result slips., adding that their agents did not append their signature to some of the result slips given by the IEC.

Many of the results given to their agents were signed by IEC agents only, he alleged, saying they would gather facts to prosecute the matter in court.

Tombong Jatta, former Majority leader of the National Assembly, alleged that their supporters were molested and persecuted.

He said the APRC is not liable to allegation against president Jammeh, adding: “You cannot do collective punishment for people.”

“We believe that The Gambia should move forward,” he said, adding that government should work on the weaknesses and limitations of the APRC, and consolidate the way forward.

Gibbi Bah, APRC Latrikunda Sabiji candidate, said he didn’t believe he was defeated in the Parliamentary elections, because the results he possessed, and those given by the IEC did not tally.

Written By Madi S Njie

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