President Barrow did tell a Turkish TV and we quote: “When I toured the country as my party’s candidate that turned everything in The Gambia. My crowd was the biggest crowd ever in the history of that country. It was with my party, it was not with the coalition. That forced everybody to the [negotiation] table; that we can make a difference; that we can make this change; that gives us confidence and everybody to come on board.
That was just with my party. There was no coalition by then. The records are there. So, if I say I was destined to be president I think you will agree with me”. But honestly speaking if there was no coalition 2016, President Barrow will continue his real estate business and at the same time managing the accounts of the UDP as its Treasurer.
A Gambian political analyst once said that President Barrow is no longer working on the transition from the decades-long autocratic order. “The transition has been aborted in the sense that Barrow and his government are focus on entrenching themselves now.” Barrow’s mission is to give us democracy but he is lacking focus because he is trying to reform institutions, bring new laws, and at the same time develop the country.
This is impossible to do. Barrow came to power with the backing of seven political parties as an independent candidate on a transitional agreement plan that he should only serve three years, change the country’s bad laws, level the political playing field, and then step down. But that agreement is now in doubt. And though the new leader delivered democracy and freedom, reforms of both institutions and laws remain unfulfilled and the coalition has well, call it whatever, ‘fell apart’ Rewind: Barrow fired one of his key coalition partners, Mai Fatty, last November.
Shortly afterwards two key political leaders within the unity government, Omar Jallow and Halifa Sallah, made a public statement urging Barrow to resign after three years as under the agreement, though Barrow now insists this will be decided on by the Gambian people. He further sacked OJ and Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow his VP and appointed the man he called his political father Ousainou Darboe, leader of the UDP which Barrow represents in the coalition as the new VP. Meanwhile, both the coalition stakeholders and the Gambian people are divided as to whether Barrow should serve three years or the constitutionally mandated five.
Sidi Sanneh, a U.S.-based economist and analyst of Gambian affairs, said despite the “expected” disagreements within his coalition, Barrow has “delivered on promises of opening the democratic space.” He noted that President Barrow has been slow on legal and institutional reforms adding that the priorities are misplaced. “It appears that they value or place a higher premium on development projects than institutional and legal reforms, which are necessary prerequisites for attracting foreign investments.”
The head of the electoral commission AlieuMomarrNjai pledged in a memorable but unpublicized speech to uphold the integrity of the commission and protect the integrity of the process. During the launch of the electoral process he said:
Election results may be rigged to predetermine who will win or lose, and election may be disrupted, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the process, but I stand here today to pronounce to you that, as far as our concerted efforts are in play, this will never be the case in our dear country. The Independent Electoral Commission believes that an election without integrity subverts the purpose of a democratic election, and cannot be considered fair and equitable. The IEC will ever concentrate on conducting free and fair elections. This, I believe we will ever achieve by upholding governing principles such as: respect for principles of electoral democracy; ethical conduct; accuracy and transparency.
Yet AlhajiMomarNjie did say that the IEC cannot hold elections if the Gambia was to adhere to the three year transition agreement. The IEC Boss should visit his filing cabinet and re-read the coalition manifesto of 2016 prior to the presidential elections. By the way, it is not the IEC that sponsors elections. The Gambia Government and partners are responsible for this.
All we can say now is that some lawyers are poised to take on to the courts in defence of the coalition members that are calling for an adherence to the timetable. Good for democracy, the Supreme Court will be busy and that’s just why the judges are paid.