Halifa Sallah Challenges Gambians to Chose Formal or Substantive Democracy

Hon. Halifa Sallah

Halifa Sallah, Secretary General and Party Leader of People’s Democratic Organisation for Independent and Socialism (PDOIS) have challenged the Gambian citizenry to choose between formal and substantive democracy, saying if electorates chose to follow the path of formal democracy it will be important to abrogate all existing electoral laws.

The PDOIS Leader made this disclosure at a press conference organized by the party to highlight key objections that were obtained during the last parliamentary election.

“In our analysis, we have seen that the Gambian electorates are more akin to a formally democratic system, it does not matter what the delivery will be tomorrow. What matters is that the person can win elections and therefore, what’s left is to do everything possible under the sun to ensure elections are won,” Halifa told journalists at the latest PDOIS presser.

This according to the PDOIS leader is why “as many people as possible are moving towards the direction of engaging people not based on programs but popularity in a particular constituency. So in that regard, we as PDOIS did interrogate what the Gambia holds for you (electorates) and what the Gambia holds for those who want to be representative of the party.”

Sallah said PDOIS is convinced that all those who base their political existence on just formal democracy ultimately have parties that are not able to survive as clearly shown by the current political trend, arguing that the results of the past election are a clear testimony of the political trajectory the country is heading into.

The Veteran politician further observed that there are only three political parties in the current parliament namely NPP, UDP, and PDOIS, noting that “all other parties at the National Assembly are either part of the NPP coalition or without a seat in the National Assembly.

“In our analysis, we have come to realize that as long as the concept is based on one desire to win elections; when the laws don’t matter; you put all the electoral laws aside; you can induce; you can use any means to be able to get to power. At the end of the day, what we are going to have is precisely what we have now; a few political parties in the NA and very few consolidating their power based on patronage,” He further observed.

“We must ask ourselves the fundamental question, is that the type of electoral system that we want, if that is the case then we as PDOIS must join the bandwagon to be able to win as many people as possible.”

Sallah further adduced that with the over three decades of experience in Gambian politics, the party is convinced that its politics must be based on a contract with the nation and people, adding that PDOIS is convinced that every citizen must serve his country and must serve its people which in reality defines substantive democracy.

Hon. Sallah added that substantive democracies elect people because they want services and people seek office because they want to render a service.

“All PDOIS members are challenged to ask themselves that fundamental question whether that is the type of political system we want? By extension, the PDOIS members are asking Gambian people to ask themselves whether that is the type of political system they want? Hon. Sallah submitted.

The former Minority Leader and Member for Serrakunda Central Constituency further observed: “If there is to be fairness then let’s open it up; if that is the system we want and not to create laws that will restrict those law-abiding and leave those who hate to follow the law to do as they wish and we only condemn and expose without impact to change the destiny of our motherland.”

The PDOIS Leader said the results of the last parliamentary election indicate the changes in the political dynamics and the end of the partisan basis, arguing that as political parties transform, candidates are also changing in nature and characteristics.

“Many candidates are becoming independent candidates and many parties are not filing members of their parties based on their conviction.

“They are following the winning trend, finding candidates who can win in a constituency and selecting those people to be their representatives” the PDOIS Leader disclosed.

Halifa Sallah outlined that PDOIS is also committed to changing the constitution and luring cooperative bodies to participate in development in a more open democratic setting.

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