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Sunday, October 24, 2021

How democratic are our political parties?

Massive resignations of executive and other party members hit the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) last week. At least seven members tendered their resignations to the party leader, Mr Mamma Kandeh and later declared their intention to start a new party which will be led by ‘a leader’ as opposed to ‘a boss’.

This has triggered a heated debate – at least on social media – about the formation and running of political parties in The Gambia. One aspect of these parties that featured prominently in these debates is the fact that the parties are almost run like some kind of cult around the leader/founder and as a result when the leader is no more, or no longer in power, the party disintegrates.

The reason for this according to some political analysts is that in most cases it is the leader/founder who funds the activities of the party from his personal resources and thus the members will not have the ability to question some of his decisions. It enables him also to remain the leader throughout. This is unhealthy for a democracy.

Thus, suggestions have been made for there to be legislations about the funding for political parties. If it is legislated and made clear how parties should be funded, then it will not be on the shoulder of the leader/founder to provide the funds for their activities. In this way, we will have parties that are very democratic so that when they come into office they will continue the same democratic trend.

Therefore, it is hoped that the drafters of the new constitution will consult widely on this matter so that it can be included. The time has come for Gambians to insist on democracy and democratic principles even for the parties in the opposition.

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