Brokered by the commonwealth ahead of the 2006 presidential elections, the inter-party committee was created under the auspices of the Independent Electoral Commission as a platform for dialogue between the government and the opposition.
He told The Standard: “I used to go to the Independent Electoral Commission as a representative of APRC at the inter-party dialogue. It is not true that the APRC abruptly put an end to it. I was also there when Oluṣẹgun Ọbasanjọ was chairing those reconciliation meetings and we had several meetings with the opposition. What I am saying is that we will not allow them to penetrate us with their ill-intentions and destroy us. Even at those forums, you could see that there was hardly any sincerity in some of them.
“At one of the forums I even said that there was this cry that the opposition are tortured, their houses are burnt, journalists are arrested but have they ever talked about the fire disaster in my compound at Tallinding in 2001? That was the worst of all political fire disasters that you could imagine. None of them even talked about the fire in my house and I had to even tell Ousainou Darboe why they are not talking about the fire disaster in my compound. Am I not a Gambian? This fire was ignited by supporters of the opposition UDP. And none of those people have been taken to court. These are the reasons we don’t trust their sincerity.”
The majority leader added that the sincerity deficit of the opposition had deteriorated to a point that they thought the whole initiative was an exercise in futility, adding: “It is true that we were not very much interested in the inter-party dialogue at the latter stage because it must be a step towards achieving a particular goal and if that objective is not going to be reached, we will be just wasting our time. If they call me, I do not go. There must be trust and if we are working towards achieving something, we must all be sincere towards achieving that objective which was lacking. The bickering between the opposition and the ruling party in the country is not peculiar to The Gambia. The opposition is a government in waiting so that makes them very important. But in Africa, especially in The Gambia, opposition do not see themselves as part of the government to an extent that they only aspire to see the down-fall of the ruling government for them to take its place. So, it is important that the opposition parties join the government and work in the interest of the state. They should be willing to attend state functions like independence celebrations, welcoming visiting heads of state and a lot of other things. These are not APRC functions.
“There must be trust between the government and the opposition. In the absence of trust, the two cannot work together. And, after elections, it is the duty of the ruling party to win the hearts and minds of the ruling government in terms of its sincerity to the course of the development of a country. The APRC fully respects the opposition and we have given them enough space to partake in any democratic process. Our electoral laws are second to none in the sub-region. Moreover, some of these small things that the opposition call their demands that should be looked into by the ruling government can only be worked on if they have good intentions. You cannot refuse to acknowledge any good thing that the ruling government does and expect the government to see them as brothers. That is not possible. If they want to have so much respect and be so much involved, they must also prove to be honest and loyal to the service of the people. The opposition are dishonest. We have invited them, but they are the ones not forthcoming. I remember one day when we were going to meet President Jammeh, some of the opposition in the parliament had refused to go.”]]>