By Right 2 Know (R2K)
Gambia: An urgent call for a grand political coalition to preserve democracy, justice, accountability, peace, and national cohesion
The recent announcement on September 4, 2021, by the interim leader of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), Fabakary Tombong Jatta, of a political merger between Yahya Jammeh’s party and president Adama Barrow’s National Peoples’ Party (NPP) for the 2021 Presidential election, is the culmination of the ultimate political and moral betrayal of the Gambian people. It is a sign of weakness and the actions of a desperate head of state who remains determined to do whatever he deems necessary to cling to office, no matter the consequences.
With the realization that the country’s peaceful future, political stability, and economic recovery are under threat, we call on all the opposition parties to form a grand coalition to oppose the Jammeh-Barrow candidacy. The best path to victory on December 4 is for all the parties to rally support behind a credible coalition candidate under one umbrella. A shared victory will unite the country, reduce the polarization in our politics and the possibility of a contested election result. More importantly, it will also prevent the culture of impunity now being entrenched by a Jammeh-Barrow alliance and instead promote transparency, accountability, justice, and good governance.
We are aware of the failure of Coalition 2016, which brought president Barrow to power, and the many reasons it did not meet its objectives. As we move closer to the end of the elections process, evidence points to an expanded field of candidates vying for the nation’s highest office. This development is commendable. Yet, a fractured opposition plays into a Jammeh-Barrow strategy, elevating their chances for re-election and ushering in a full circle and a return to autocracy, tyranny, kleptocracy, and impunity (as uncovered by the Janneh Commission and the TRRC). Gambians rejected these unacceptable traits in December 2016, only to see a total reversal under an APRC-NPP alliance five years later.
Therefore, the logical and moral response must surely be a united opposition to ensure that this axis of evil is defeated. By failing to unify and have multiple candidates corral vigorously behind one presidential candidate, we risk handing victory to president Barrow, and by extension, to Yahya Jammeh under the current first-past-the post-elections rule; something that the CRC 2020 draft constitution would have addressed. Sadly, the very proponents and possible benefactors of this cynical political merger succeeded in destroying the possibility of a ’50 plus one’ threshold as proposed in the draft constitution. Our elections are now relegated to the 1997 Constitution, which has been so severely tampered with and abused that it is no longer fit for purpose.
Successful nations are led at critical moments by citizens who can summon the courage to look beyond partisanship and understand that leadership means setting aside personal ambition to advance the common good. We have reached that moment when the national interest must take precedence over each party’s interest and each party leader’s ambition. Let us seize this opportunity to do the right thing for The Gambia and unite behind a single candidate.
On the ballot on December 4 is the choice between the restoration and merger of a corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent regime that Gambians rejected on the one hand; and, on the other, the forces of democracy, pluralism, and progress that the opposition parties represent. The stakes could not be higher for The Gambia in the near term and for generations unborn.
In conjunction with this declaration, we have established a working group to engage the political parties to convene an exploratory meeting to discuss the conditions under which they could form a coalition. If the parties agree to proceed, our objective is to complete the selection process by October 15, 2021.
Issued on Monday, September 13, 2021.
About Right to Know:
Right to Know- R2K Gambia is a non-partisan entity that focuses on democracy and the rule of
law, good governance, human rights and the principles of access to information. Our group is
comprised of professionals with diverse backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics,
economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia. All group members
are human rights activists, and are located in EU, West and Southern Africa, UK and the US.