Diaspora blunder, 2016 Coalition: Betrayal and the makings of the “political animal”


gambia coalition

By Ousainou Mbenga

It was during one of his fakatalu-tripped speeches, that Barrow characterised himself as a “political animal”, countering the “accidental president” he is believed to be.
Adama Barrow, we will “cross your line”, whether this line is imaginary in your head or drawn on the ground. In fact, you don’t have a “line”, its Jammeh’s line that you are attempting to redraw. Your increasing threats remind us of the reckless era of Yahya Jammeh will be stopped in its tracks before you become another runaway train leading us to another wreaking disaster. We will never return to the swamps we just emerged from, come what may. We dared to cross Jammeh’s line more over your “line”.
Unlike the “give them a chance” advocates, we who believe in testing leadership we will not allow our beloved Gambia to be submerged again into the cauldron of political treachery being cooked by the Barrow regime, the recycled predators of APRC and the recalcitrant UDP.


In every practical sense, the signs of what the 2016 Coalition was to become were clearly written on the wall and foreheads of the “leadership” and its “surrogates”, both inside and outside The Gambia. One of the earliest signs of “UDP hegemony” was blatantly displayed during the “diaspora meets Barrow” meeting following the impasse. At that meeting Alkali Conteh, Kebba ‘Nyanchor’ Sanneh and other UDP stalwarts stormed out of the meeting because they felt slighted by Maila Touray who conducted the meeting. Ousainu Darboe had to go out of the meeting to convince them to come back. This attitude of entitlement was skillfully hidden during the heat of battle against Jammeh’s tyranny, only to surface post-victory.

Many of us were severely blinded by the venomous slogan “anything but Jammeh”, which ironically was the same caustic popular expression in July 1994, “anything but Jawara”. This repetition validates the assertion that the required social and political consciousness of our society remains at gutter level, where the neocolonial elite wants it to remain to ensure the never ending violent cycles of mediocrity and backward ideas steeped in reactionary traditions and religion. The recent reckless promise of building 60 mosques is a continuation of where Jammeh left off in polarising the secular state that our beloved Gambia has been a champion of.

The “diaspora” must own up to its political blunder as a significant contributing factor in the outcome of the battle against a fifth term for Jammeh. But despite all its internal contradictions ranging from the senseless competitions between organisations to the insincerity towards the principles of unity that was to make the coalition more resilient and resistant to being easily split and ultimately the betrayal of the century. Indeed the masses of our people were and are still appreciative of the invaluable contributions from the diaspora unlike the ungrateful opportunists who rode on our backs and ultimately stole the people’s victory. We practically handed victory and power on a gold platter to the Barrow/UDP regime unconditionally without any demands. Remember, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

In its own doing, the “diaspora” acquired a broad “political blind spot” which obscured our vision, therefore our ability to evaluate our interactions and dealings with ourselves and the representatives of the Coalition 2016. We held no one accountable during that process to consolidate the coalition. To this date, there has been no accounting of the resources (money) spent on the campaign leading to the elections. Is it any wonder that the Barrow regime lacks accountability? It is the same people that managed the election campaign that became the administrators of the Barrow regime.

This further explains the unscrupulous economic practices that plague the Barrow regime, only 18 months onto the saddles of power. The staggering grants and loans from predator “donor countries” (EU, World Bank and IMF) in the name of the Gambian people regularly escape the “transparency, accountability and probity” process until certain members of the National Assembly and the population express their right to know what is being negotiated on their behalf that the spokespersons of the regime scramble to control the damage of not being accountable. The Barrow regime’s lame mantra has become “we inherited a 22-year dictatorship” and “found nothing in the coffers”. No more excuses! We want results. If you really want to hear our views: You have done nothing!
This is the outcome of Coalition 2016, a blatant betrayal of the aspirations of the Gambian people including even those who defend the indefensible. This is also the nature of coalitions, people of different organisations, ideology and political agendas come together to achieve a common political goal. In our case, “No fifth term for Jammeh”! Additionally, coalitions can be traitorous as in our case again, even though there was a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The MoU was the first thing that was thrown out the window followed by the imposition of the “tactical coalition” and finally, the dismissal of the agreed upon “three-year transitional period” as unconstitutional. And now the Barrow/UDP regime and its enablers are hell-bent on imposing the “five-year term” contrary to his affirmative “my word is my bond, three years is what we agreed on and I must honour it”. In several recorded interviews on national and international media, Barrow upheld the three-year transitional agreement but to the world’s dismay, upon tasting the spoils of power, Barrow has inducted himself into the hall of disrepute with questionable integrity. In short, the UDP (the “majority party”), after four unsuccessful contests against Jammeh, was forced into the coalition unwillingly but maintained its skillfully hidden agenda. It is important to note that the mighty Gambian voters and “diaspora support” made it categorically clear to the “opposition parties” that if there is no coalition, they will stay home on election day and campaign funds will be withheld respectively.

All of these unscrupulous occurrences appear too questionable to be coincidental. And rubbing salt in our wounds; the mansions at Mankamang Kunda, FaBB foundation in honour of Barrow’s wife ($752,544 transferred into her account), D11 million to the pilgrims to Mecca and a list of at liberty misappropriation of resources while we lack electricity, water and the cruel cost of living with no relief in sight, yet the Barrow/UDP regime added 17 promises upon the previous empty promises one year ago.
In addition, the sham establishments of the Commission of Inquiry turned “Commission of Enrichment”, which recently requested for an extension to unearth Jammeh’s ill gotten wealth will turn out to be just another useless exercise. According to sources, lead counsel Amie Bensouda is being paid D500,000 per month and the commissioners D100,00 per month. Is it any wonder that they requested for an extension?