Halifa and Madi to debate

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By Tabora Bojang

Prominent human rights activist Madi Jobarteh has accepted an invitation by PDOIS leader Halifa Sallah, a veteran politician and prominent pillar of the Coalition 2016, following the former’s accusation that coalition partners have blatantly betrayed the cause that opposition activist Ebrima Solo Sandeng died for.

Speaking at Sandeng’s state funeral Tuesday, Madi who led a group of activists and staged a protest at the funeral, condemned state failures to implement reforms Solo died for.

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Madi also attacked coalition leaders such as Adama Barrow, Ousainu Darboe, Halifa Sallah, Sidia Jatta, OJ, Dr Isatou Touray, Hamat Bah, Mai Fatty, Henry Gomez, and Bolonding Sonko, whose parties formed Coalition 2016 and subsequently acquired highest positions in both the executive and legislature, for betraying a man who gave his life for them.

“Instead of these leaders embarking on the full and uninterrupted implementation of their own MoU and manifesto and uphold the ideals for which Solo Sandeng was brutally murdered, these leaders rather decided, shamelessly, to cut out deals for themselves. First, they changed Section 62(1) (b) of the [1997] Constitution to remove the age limit for president in order to enable Fatoumatta Tambajang to qualify to be appointed vice president in November 2017. Their second selfish and disgraceful act was to also amend Section 91(1) (d) to protect their seats so that they can now cross carpet from one party to another as they like without having to lose their current seat. It is a shame that they all came here [state funeral] to try to show remorse and to celebrate Solo”, Madi argued.

But his comments did not go down well with the PDOIS leader Halifa Sallah, who retired from active politics last year.

Halifa, who is recognised and much respected as one of the masterminds of the coalition agenda, said although everyone has the right to criticise the shortcomings of Coalition 2016 and identify who is culpable but “no one has the right to distort history and present truth as falsehood and falsehood as truth.”

“I have promised to put an end to the politics of demagogy and deception in the coming years as an elderly statesman by opening up a national conversation on any matter that is in doubt, if it is of national interest. I will engage Madi in a debate, to prove that on this matter he is writing fiction and not facts. In order to entice people to follow the debate I must add that any person who has capacity to reason and is honest would conclude that if the coalition did not uproot Jammeh the circumstances surrounding Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s death would have never been known. His body would have never been seen. The official burial ceremony would have never have taken place. His party leader may have served his sentence and even if released would have been over 65 and would never have had the qualification again to contest election,” the veteran politician charged.

Responding to Halifa’s debate challenge, Madi wrote on his Facebook page: “Rest assured I shall not be found wanting in equally responding as my right of reply. Therefore, I accept the debate challenge thrown at me. Furthermore, I hereby challenge President Adama Barrow, Ousainu Darboe, Fatoumatta Tambajang, Isatou Touray, Sidia Jatta, Mai Ahmad Faty, Henry Gomez, OJ Jallow, Lamin Dibba and Hamat Bah to a debate anytime anywhere if they so disagree with my position that they betrayed and failed Solo Sandeng and the Gambian people. Gambian political leaders must recognize that they must be held accountable. They must realize that they are not infallible. If that were the case, this country could not have been in this deplorable state of affairs especially since 2017. No one is more responsible for this current misery in our country than the politicians who occupied both the Executive and Legislature from 2017 to 2021.  Therefore, I maintain my position that the Coalition leaders, the moment they assumed office blatantly betrayed the cause that Solo fought for. The evidence of their failure and betrayal lies in the current state of affairs in the Gambia which is as glaring as the sun at 12 noon,” Madi Jobarteh stated.

The Standard understood that the duo will start the debate on West Coast Radio’s Coffee Time this morning.