By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
At least fourteen Political Party Leaders were in attendance at the first-ever National Dialogue for Political Parties hosted by President Adama Barrow, today 12th February 2024. There are 19 registered Political Parties in the country who all attended the National Dialogue with Political Parties which took place at State House. This was the first of its kind being organised by a sitting head of State in The Gambia’s Political History.
The theme of the engagement is “our collective responsibility in preserving the nation, safeguarding the state and securing our resources”. Some six thematic areas will be discussed on Wednesday 14th February 2024 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center focusing on “1. the political environment for sustainable peace and stability, 2. religious tolerance for social cohesion, 3. ethnic diversity for National Unity, 4. securing sovereignty: safeguarding stability and well-being, 5. media – safeguarding the democratic space and 6. irregular migration and empowerment”. This will be followed by a national dialogue at the same venue on Friday 16th February 2024, just two days before Independence Day.
At the first engagement, only five Party leaders were not in attendance which included the United Democratic Party (UDP), the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), the Citizens’ Alliance (CA), Gambia Action Party (GAP) and the Democratic Party (DP). The five party leaders who failed to attend all sent representatives to speak on their behalf. This article highlights Party Leaders who were in attendance and the representatives who spoke on their behalf. Another article will be published focusing on some of the statements made by Party representatives.
First to take up the podium after moderator Mr John Charles Njie and President Adama Barrow was the APRC represented by their first Deputy Party Leader Mr Borrie Colley. He noted that his statement was from Party Leader Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta who was engaged in another function. APRC currently has two Representatives in Parliament and is in a Coalition with President Adama Barrow’s National Peoples Party (NPP).
The first party leader to deliver a speech was Hon Kebba E Jallow of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). PPP was the first party to win the Presidential Elections with first President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. The Party went into a Coalition with the NPP in the run-up to the 2021 Presidential Elections but it’s not confirmed if they are still in a Coalition.
Hon Hamat NK Bah was the third to take up the podium and the second Party leader. He leads the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) who currently have four representatives in Parliament. Hon Bah is currently the Minister for Tourism and Culture and his Party is in a Coalition with the NPP.
Fourth to take up the podium was Hon Mama Kandeh, the Party Leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) who has contested two Presidential Elections in 2016 and more recently in 2021. Hon Kandeh is the third-Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue. His Party lost all the five seats they had won in 2017 during the recent 2022 Parliamentary elections. They currently have no representatives in Parliament.
Fifth to deliver a speech at the National Dialogue with Political Parties was Hon Hendry Gomez, the leader of the Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress (GPDP) who spoke in Wollof. He was the fourth Party Leader to speak, was a former Minister for Youth and Sports and is currently a Special Adviser to the President. His party is currently in a Coalition with President Barrow’s NPP.
Sixth to speak was Raffie Diab, the Chairman of Citizens Alliance (CA) who noted that Party Leader Dr Ismaila Ceesay was not in the country. CA is currently in a Coalition with the NPP.
The former Vice President Hon Bakary B Darboe was then given the mic to speak on behalf of the Gambia For All (GFA) Party. He was the seventh speaker and the fifth Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue.
Mr Alhagie M Bayo, the Deputy Party Leader of the Gambia Action Party (GAP) was the eighth speaker at the National Dialogue. He noted that he was speaking on behalf of his Party Leader who was out of the country. His Party is currently in a Coalition with the NPP.
The ninth Speaker was the Party Leader of the National Unity Party (NUP) Mr Abdoulie Jammeh. Mr Jammeh’s NUP contested the 2021 Presidential Elections. He was the sixth Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue.
The tenth speaker was the interim Party Leader of the Alliance for National Re-orientation and Development (ANRD) Mr Momodou Jallow. He was the seventh Party Leader to speak at the engagement and his party is in a Coalition with the NPP.
Hon Mai Ahmed Fatty, the leader of the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), was the eleventh speaker and the eighth Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue. He was a former Minister of Interior for President Adama Barrow.
The twelfth speaker at the National Dialogue was Mr Bah S Jabbi, the caretaker Party Leader for the Gambia Alliance for National Unity (GANU). He explained to Gainako that he has taken over from former Party Leader Mr Hydara who was appointed by the President as the Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba. He is the ninth party leader to speak at the National Dialogue.
The thirteenth speaker is Mr Ebou Gaye who is the interim Party Leader of the All People’s Party (APP). The APP is a newly formed Party and Mr Gaye was the tenth party leader to speak at the National Dialogue.
Hon Halifa Sallah, who recently resigned from active Politics is the leader of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and was the eleventh party leader to address the National Dialogue. PDOIS currently has two representatives in Parliament.
Abubacarr MA Kinteh was the fifteenth speaker at the National Dialogue and spoke on behalf of the National Convention Party (NCP) as the Party Leader. They were once in a Coalition but it’s not confirmed if this is still the case. NCP Kinteh was the twelfth Party Leader to address the audience.
The newly formed People’s Alliance Party (PAP) took the podium as the sixteenth speaker and was represented by their Party Leader Mr Ebrima Tabora Manneh. He attempted to contest the Presidential elections but was not approved by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). He was the thirteenth Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue.
Speaking to a representative of the Democratic Party (DP) I was made aware that the representative of the party who spoke on the day Ms Aja Yama Ceesay, the only female speaker is the third in command at the DP. The DP is a newly formed party and attempted to contest in the 2021 Presidential Elections without success. They are in a Coalition with the NPP. She is the seventeenth representative to speak at the National Dialogue.
The last speaker was the Minority Leader in Parliament Hon Alagie S Darbo who spoke on behalf of the United Democratic Party (UDP). Hon Darbo is the member for Brikama North and represented his party leader Hon Ousainu Darboe. UDP has 15 seats in Parliament.
Finally, President Adama Barrow, who is the party leader of the NPP was the last to deliver his concluding statements. The NPP currently has 18 seats in Parliament making them the majority party in Parliament. President Barrow was the fourteenth Party Leader to speak at the National Dialogue.