Halifa: To us 17 Oct. is Coalition 2016 anniversary

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By Omar Bah

The secretary general of PDOIS has said that his party recognises 17 October as the anniversary of the Coalition 2016 and not December 2 as was celebrated by others.
Speaking in a Standard exclusive yesterday afternoon, Mr Halifa Sallah said he was in hospital for an eye operation on December 2 and therefore could not have attended the celebratory rally at the Talinding park.
Mr Sallah and his party’s absence at the celebrations was conspicuous and spawned a lot of talk.

He explained: “I have to say that to us 17 October is the Coalition 2016 anniversary. December 2 is the victory of President Adama Barrow in an election and on the 19 is his inauguration as the president,” he said.
He continued: “The day is really 17 October, when we met and agreed to establish Coalition 2016 and it would have been useful on that day for all Coalition partners to be ready to have a symposium to have a discussion so that we explain what we agreed to the population.”

He said unfortunately, the day passed unnoticed. He explained: “I must say that, it is not a day for celebration in terms of calling people to have any form of fanfare, but it should have been a day of contemplation to really reason what brought about the unity and what was it designed to do and how far have we gone to achieve the purpose and where do we go from there,” he added.

He said every party has the right to seek the mandate of the people and has a right to exist independently on its own. “But, if parties decide to put their sovereignty aside and come together for a purpose and then work together to achieve that purpose I think that is a noble thing….that is history and that history should always be remembered and recorded,” he noted.

Still on the celebration, Mr Sallah said he believes that the parties decided on their own to invite people to a celebration and one cannot criticise celebrations, because every sovereign party has a right to congregate anywhere to commemorate.

“What I want to make clear is that, I don’t think it was part of PDOIS plans. I have not seen any information that came to the central committee asking the central committee to make a decision on having a celebration on 2 December that would warrant me, Sidia Jatta or anybody to be present at any platform,” he stressed.
He said the anniversary was just taken as an event in which all those who participated have the right to participate and PDOIS’ absence was immaterial and it did not add or distract from what happened there.
“But, I have to say that PDOIS does not feel left out of it. And I must say I have nothing to regret in the role I played in the Coalition,” he concluded.

Coalition celebration privately sponsored’
Meanwhile, in a related development, the chairperson of the Coalition media team in West Coast Region, Essa Dampha, said the much-talk about Coalition 2016 anniversary celebration was privately sponsored by friends and sympathisers of the government.
“We want to make it very clear that the anniversary was privately sponsored by Gambians, most especially Coalition supporters and sympathisers. And I must say that we are very proud about what we did as the youth wing of the Coalition,” he said.

He said for them, there is no other day, more worthy of celebrating in The Gambia then 2 December, which, he said marked the demise of the 22 years of the Jammeh dictatorship.
“The day is equal to the liberation of South Africa from Apartheid. We were enslaved for 22 years. There was no difference between Jammeh and the Europeans when they colonised us. So, I just want to say that to us the day is like a second independence day celebration,” he said.

He named Basiru Jawara and Muhammed Jah of QCell as among their main sponsors.
“But I must say hotel owners have also contributed immensely in the celebration. You see, it should not be a surprise for Gambians to wonder how we get our funding, because it is the same Coalition that mobilised funds to defeat Jammeh. So, there is no surprise at all,” he concluded.