By: Bakary Gassama
It is barely two months for Gambians to go to polls to chose a desired President for the next five years. This year’s presidential election is presumed to be tightly contested than ever before, as more and more political parties continue to emerge. At least the unprecedented surge in political parties heralds that The Gambia is on the trajectory to embracing multiple party democracy. Though it comes along with its ramifications for fledgling democracies like ours.
It could be vividly recalled that Gambians at home and abroad booted out 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s despotic rule in 2016 Presidential race. Jammeh was defeated by incumbent President Adama Barrow, the Coalition standard-bearer with a margin of eighteen thousand plus votes. That election was marred with a acute voter apathy; I think over three hundred thousands votes uncast. Reasons for this still remains mysterious.
Of recent, Gambians and the world have seen firsthand where a sitting President pleads to go into a merger with a party in the opposition. It’s taken so many Gambians aback as well as the international community. The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) entered into coalition with the APRC, the party of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. This marriage is seen by critics of Adama Barrow as insulting and affrontry to victims of Jammeh’s repressive regime. Does this call of concern worry President Barrow? Certainly even an atom of remorse or regret has not been shown by the rather desperate NPP leader.
As an avid reader of local newspapers on a quotidian basis, I stumbled on a front page news headline in The Standard Newspaper October 11 publication that the erstwhile exiled President Jammeh who is seeking refuge in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, will on Friday 15th October, 2021 address his already embattled and polarized APRC in a rally that will be organized by party’s splinter group in his native Kanilai, a group that continues to put up stiff resistance to NPP-APRC merger. Apparently, if this claim by the APRC splinter is anything to go by, it will be Jammeh’s first ever public address since he left power for Malabo. It will be perceived as breaking the glass. What difference will Yahya Jammeh’s speech going to make in an already consummated marriage? Certainly, if he speaks on this day, he will either strengthen the NPP-APRC coalition or throw his weight on the party’s resistant group that enchants the slogan “No Coalition” all this while. Whatever happens it is going to drag the party deep in the mud and futrther polarize the party. In fact, it could result in the demise of the party, if care is not taken. Because either of the two groups will not possibly surrender to the other. To save the party for at least the next five or ten years, Jammeh should rather keep mute. That in itself will deliver no good to the party. But, it is necessary!
In a nutshell, the situation in APRC is dire and worrisome, because it could not even sustain itself independently for at least five years after their reign in 2016. What went wrong? Perhaps the Executive of the party who submersed in NPP would claim that they are in severe financial quagmire due to the forfeiture of their bank accounts. Is that justification sufficient to advance for a merger to a party that ended their government? It’s our believe that there is more to APRC gradual demise as the party continues to disintegrate among itself. The internal party matter is more convoluted that it will be prudent for Jammeh to remain in silence to save his party as we are in a rather crucial stage of our polity.