Mr Bah said the Gambian opposition are weak and selfish and as such, cannot expect to gain anything when negotiating from a position of weakness.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, the former Upper Saloum parliamentarian said: “You cannot dialogue and win from a weak position. The opposition in The Gambia is fragmented, disunited, and weak. Of course Jammeh does not see us as a threat unless we are united. Unless we do what we are supposed to do to make him see that there is a need for dialogue [with the opposition].”
Mr Bah cited the case of the late Sheriff Dibba under the NCP who asked former President Jawara for a government of national unity. “The question was ‘why do I need a government of national unity when I have enough members in the parliament to back my legislations, policies and programmes?’ Now, you are saying let’s negotiate: What interest does President Jammeh has to negotiate with us? He is dominating the parliament, all the municipal and area councils…”
“At this point, the opposition is weak, fragmented and does not pose any threat to Yahya Jammeh and that means we are going to negotiate from a point of weakness. And when you are negotiating from this point, you will certainly lose. You are a loser, so we have to go back to the drawing board and make an inward assessment of ourselves and draw a new strategy, begin a new move for people to see and believe in us as a source of hope for them. Only then will the government understand that there is a real force and they will be forced to negotiate.”
He said he may support the inter-party mechanism that was in place. “However, the APRC didn’t have interest in being part of the inter-party process. When we started, they were represented by the vice president. But at the end of the day, they felt that it shouldn’t waste their time and they pulled out. It all comes down to my point: when you are weak, you are weak. That is the truth. We are a divided opposition, full of hatred, misinformation and lies against each other… How can we make progress in a situation like this? We must accept that we have been failing the people, and I hope that come 2016, we will not fail them again. The Gambian people want change but they must come to the realisation that there is a credible opposition they can rely on. That is why the majority of the voting population tend to be reluctant to vote, so they stay at home during elections.
“And more so for me, I strongly believe that the idea of a negotiation can be good but it cannot be restricted to political parties. Professional bodies who have a stake in the system such as the teachers union, the press union, doctors union, labour union, workers union, NGOs and all other professional bodies must be part of the negotiation regarding the political destiny of this country. It should be in the form of national conference, not political parties alone.
“I don’t believe that it should be restricted to political parties alone because this country does not belong to the political parties alone. There are other professional bodies who have a stake in the development and advancement of this country. They should be part of any process that is meant to further the democracy or development of this country because they are all affected. So, if there is any dialogue, it has to be a dialogue that encompasses everybody in the country – even the weak, the poor, the village man, the imams, and everybody.”
Hamat Bah further charged that all that the opposition are interested in is “self-promotion, self-interest advancement, advancing our selfish interest from one end to another, when the real issue is, we have to take on the man [Jammeh]. That is why our party has a strong and consistent policy of non-boycott of elections. Because it does not stop Jammeh from being president. If we are plenty in the National Assembly, or we control two or three of the councils… If we are in most of these committees, we can understand the point of negotiations. But if you boycott elections and you are not interested in elections, how can you even start negotiating with nothing?”]]>