GDC Leader Mama Kandeh Exclusive Interview With The Gambia Today
Gambia Today: What are your views to what has been coming from the UDP Deputy Secretary General which she later retracted that the UDP has unanimously declared its party leader as their flagbearer? Is that a clear signal to President Barrow that come the next elections he will not be flagbearer for the UDP?
Kandeh: That could be a signal to President Barrow that he stands no chance to represent the UDP at that level. But from my own perspective Barrow is not a member of the UDP. He resigned in 2016 to lead a coalition in the Presidential elections. I have not aware of him writing a letter to rejoin the UDP and since this has not taken place, he has no right even to contest at party congress level. So for me, Barrow is not part of the UDP. What happened is that he disappointed himself and all the political parties that joined forces to form Coalition 2016. He was subsequently elected under the banner of a coalition which comprised 7 political parties and two Independent candidates. Barrow cannot forget that he was with these people and to associate with the UDP is not a good idea for him at the moment. If I was with the UDP, this will not be a topic that needs much talk at the moment. I think at the moment the Gambia has more pressing issues to deal with and these include development and other social issues that we are confronted with. It is a pity that the country is so politicized that we have turned our backs to developing the country. It is disappointing that Barrow’s attention is focused on his foundation and to better position himself. If he wants to develop the country it is not through the foundation rather it should be through the government. We are all disappointed and hope that President Barrow puts the records straight
The Gambia Today: Recently a crowd perceived to come from the West Coast Region turned out at state House in a show of solidarity. The President described it as his congress and the biggest congress for that matter what do you make out of it?
Kandeh: I believe in the first place
that going to Barrow to render support is baffling. Support him for what? What has he done so far so that people can say “well he has done this, he has done that”. We have heard audio with messages like “If you are part of the Barrow movement you will be part of our football tournament but if you are not part of the movement you will not participate”. So what did people go to do at State House to render support, support on what? That’s the question every Gambia should ask because if they are to be realistic. All the development and on-going projects have been put up by the former regime. I think Barrow needs to concentrate on what he can do for the country in terms of development and security. We lack adequate security. We used to be a proud country and call it “The smiling Coast of West Africa” Despite his statement that he has the Police, Army, SIS and ECOMIG, there is still no security in this country. The security he is talking about he should know that these forces cannot be used to suppress or intimidate people as he thinks. These men are here to protect the lives and properties of every Gambian. If these people were what he termed them they would have supported and fought for Yahya Jammeh to the last minute but they did not do so. I believe the ECOMIG forces entered the Gambia easily without a bullet being fired because the Gambia Armed Forces did not want to enter into a war because they lived up to what they signed and that is to protect the lives of the Gambian people. Our Armed Forces are not tools to be used by anybody on personal matter. President Barrow needs to tell the Gambians what is the present status of the ECOMIG Forces in the country right now. Are they here to be used by President Barrow against Gambians? What is their current mandate right now because they have stayed here far too long now? The country is not at war as we speak and from 2016 to 2018 that’s two years now. We don’t have problems with ECOMIG. They are our brothers from our sub region and came to our aid when we needed them but now President Barrow has to inform the Gambian people why the ECOMIG is still here.
The Gambia Today: This December, all political parties are expected to hold their respective Congress. What are the main issues that the GDC will be raising?
Kandeh: We will go through the Party Constitution and allow everybody to contribute by adding our deleting to sections of the document and come up with something that is accepted unanimously as the guiding principles of our party. We are inviting everyone and everybody will have a say as to how they want the party to be run. The document will be owned by the entire country. Secondly we will look at our achievements during the last Presidential elections. Remember we are a newly formed party that came into existence in 2016. We want to know where our problems are and how to fix them. We will also work on strategies for upcoming Presidential elections be it 21019 0r 2021 because we don’t know which is which. We will also look at what the present government has done and what we can as a Party do for the citizens of the country. We have no problems in contributing our quota to the development of the Gambian people whenever we can. The way forward for this country will be on our agenda because the situation in the country is very sad and we as a political party cannot keep quiet. Gambians are looking up to us and expect that we will do something to ease their plight. So we expect a very interesting and healthy Party congress.
The Gambia Today: when you look at the situation of the Gambia today, what do you fear most?
Kandeh: What I fear most is the political trend that we find ourselves in today. The in-fighting, insults, disagreements and so many other things that tend to derail the development process. President Barrow a transitional president had an agreement with his colleagues during his primaries that he is going to serve 3 years only and step down and not even to contest further elections. Now he has become something else and apparently not ready to step down and now he is talking about staying for 5 years and a possible second term in office. So it is left to Gambians. I am not convinced that Barrow will even complete one term based on what I’m seeing so far. There is no development; there are no projects in the offing to convince Gambians to give him a chance to complete one term. If he wants to use force to lead this country, he should not forget that it was the entire nation that came together and gave him the support. He is not bigger than the country and if he decides to use force Gambians will react.
Barrow has not shown the Gambian people anything tangible and credible for him to say; “Yes I can do it.” When his predecessor Yahya Jammeh came into power through a coup d’état most of the international community were not happy with him and sanctions were put on his government. However within two years, he was able to complete some project6s, he provided the Gambia with the 1997 Constitution and continued his development agenda. But unlike the barrow administration that had all the support from all corners but failed to do anything that will inspire people about the “New Gambia” So even after the three years transition I don’t think people will want to see him continue in office. My fear therefore lies in what happens after his three years in office. I pray for the peace and stability that Gambians are known for to continue.
The Gambia Today: What are your chances for come Elections 2019 or 2021?
Kandeh: I am on constant rapport with people and I believe I am gaining more support now than before because they are beginning to know who Mama Kandeh is. I have a development agenda which I am carrying out and for me leading an opposition party does not stop me from to contribute my quota to national development. For the first time an opposition party putting up projects like we are doing has been unheard of. This has sent a strong signal to the people. One thing is certain only Allah knows who will be President. Big numbers are joining my party. Previously it was APRC and other parties but now numbers from the UDP are joining the GDC. My doors are open to any Party that wishes to join me in our quest to develop the Gambia