By Omar Bah
Insiders in the ongoing Coalition 2016 talks have reliably informed The Standard that the members who turned up at last Monday’s secret meeting have amended the memorandum of understanding as proposed by the convener Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang.
According to our source, principal among the amendments is the changing of the term of the transitional president.
“The three year agreement has now been amended to five years and it will be finalised and signed on Friday at the final meeting.
We have also agreed to table the amendments before the president [Adama Barrow] for him to consider them and get back to us in the soonest possible time,” the source added.
However, the source noted that after failing to convince the coalition stakeholders to sign the MoU before they could go ahead with any amendments, the UDP’s three representatives, Aja Yamou Secka, Amadou Sanneh and lawyer Borry Touray, marched out of the talks in protest.
The source said from the onset of the current talks, the UDP had tabled their desire for the MoU to be signed by all the stakeholders first before moving on to consider whatever amendments were to be introduced.
According to our sources, since the UDP could not marshal the needed support from other stakeholders, they decided to abandon the talks.
“All the [other] parties refused to sign the old agreement which dictated that the president should step down after three years, as their focus is on the constitutionally mandated five years,” the source added.
Asked whether the amendment of the three years to five years was to give President Adama Barrow the option to complete the constitutionally mandated five years, in return for him to drop his ambition of running for reelection in 2021, our source said “nothing like that” was discussed at the Monday’s meeting.
“As far as the coalition stakeholders are concerned, we don’t want to put conditions that are not in line with the Constitution before the president. If he feels like running for re-election, then let that be it,” he added.
Our source said the greater number of the members of the coalition were of the opinion that the president would not be able to complete all the reforms he set out in three years and therefore thought it was only fair to allow him to complete the five year mandate.
The coalition survival meeting suffered a number of setbacks with the likes of PDOIS announcing they would not take part in the talks.
The socialist party argued that since 2017 the president has been exercising his executive authority without the oversight of a coalition as agreed to in the MoU that gave birth to the coalition.
The UDP leadership was not available for immediate comment on the matter.