By Omar Bah
The deputy spokesperson of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction has said his party’s West Coast Region and KM supporters have approved plans to form a coalition with the National People’s Party.
The former ruling party is embarking on a nationwide tour to discuss with supporters about the planned coalition with Barrow’s NPP and other pressing issues.
The party has already held meetings in the West Coast Region and Kanifing Municipality on Tuesday and Wednesday; at Marakissa and the Serekunda East Park, Semega Janneh Hall respectively. Each constituency was represented by 10 delegates who were accorded the floor to express their opinions on the executive’s plan to form a coalition with the National People’s Party.
“I can confirm to you that more than 90% of those who attended the meetings in Marakissa and at Samega Janneh Hall support the executive’s decision to work with the NPP,” Dodou Jah told The Standard yesterday.
The meeting with the supporters, Jah added, “is to demonstrate that we cannot say yes if our supporters don’t agree with the decision. The executive is just leading but the people own the party and they should decide”.
“If they say yes, we will go ahead but if they say no, there will be no alliance because the executive alone cannot go to the NPP. This is why we will go to all the regions to hear from supporters,” he said.
Jah said the party plans to get bigger numbers but they don’t have the financial muscle to do so.
He said despite criticism from some sections, 99% of the delegates they have met so far have approved the Fabakary Tombong Jatta-led executive.
“In the KM meeting, there was only one delegate who disagreed with the executive’s plans to work with the NPP and suggested an alliance with the UDP instead and Fabakary’s response was for that individual to go and ask the UDP to approach the APRC,” he said.
Commenting on the reported fracas in Marakissa which involved some disgruntled supporters of the party, Jah said: “Even before we departed for Marakissa we received intelligence that when we go there, our meeting will be disrupted but these are few people who have grievances against the executive.
“They mobilised some youths in Marakissa and when we arrived, they said they were going to join the meeting. Initially, some executive members objected but Fabakary Tombong Jatta said they should be allowed to attend the meeting. The meeting started well and everything was going fine until at one point when Tombong was answering a question, someone interrupted him. When that happened, Rambo Jatta and some other executive members suggested they should leave the hall while others said they should stay. This brought about a big tension which was later settled and the meeting went ahead as planned,” he explained.
Jah said it was after the Marakissa meeting that those who don’t approve the FTJ executive started recording WhatsApp audios trying to sabotage the meeting.
“The truth is that we cannot get everybody on one page. That is not possible. Some people will agree but some will never, no matter what. We even have people who want us to go alone,” he said.
Failed alliance talks
Jah revealed that since 2018 the APRC has been engaged in coalition talks. He said key among those parties is the Gambia Democratic Congress but they could not come to terms because GDC insisted that Mamma Kandeh has to lead because APRC were in government before and that they should give chance to Kandeh. But Jah said the APRC doesn’t see that as a genuine reason.
“We also engaged GAP who were initially flexible but later Musa Yali Batchilly said if they are going into any coalition, they will have to lead it. So our people are saying no because we are the largest party in this country. But with the incumbent it is a different ball game because you cannot tell the president to step aside for you to lead a coalition with his party. That doesn’t exist anywhere in the world,” Jah said.
Reacting to President Barrow’s claims that giving Jammeh amnesty doesn’t rest on him alone, Jah said: “I think the president’s comments only show how much he values the principles of democracy. If somebody tries to promote inclusivity, I think we should embrace it and make sure we support the cause.”
Jah said the president “is showing people that though he is the president he is not going to take charge of everything solely, but we all know as far as the constitution is concerned, he has the final say in such matters. But it is fair enough if he wants to involve the cabinet, parliament and Gambians. I don’t think anybody should have a problem with that”.
Meanwhile, speaking at the Marakissa meeting, Fabakary Tombong Jatta expressed disappointment over behaviors of some party members and challenged supporters to henceforth raise their doubts and concerns with the executive for redress.