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City of Banjul
Monday, July 6, 2020

Letters: Campaigning for the new draft is indeed a winning strategy, Mr President

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Dear editor,
The floating of a trial balloon from your cabinet in their reaction to the draft constitution, about the term limit as it relates to its retroactive application, is politically a losing strategy. For starters, if your cabinet is serious about challenging that particular provision, one would have thought to utilise your best cabinet members to be the face of it and not political amateurs who were not very effective. Bringing out your attorney general and other capable cabinet members would have at least sent the message that in fact, there is seriousness and the willingness to put the political capital behind it. But leaving it in the hands of amateurs like Saihou Mballow with all due respect, who has shown his inability or comprehension of the 1997 Constitution or the current draft, again reinforces the incompetence tag that your administration continues to be confronted with.

The draft constitution is one of the accomplishments that your administration should be extremely proud of, and this is your legacy that safeguarding should be the best political strategy and would help your chances of winning in 2021. By allowing your political adversaries to take ownership of it, and you become the face of fighting against the very fundamental changes that brought you into power would be the dumbest strategy to employ. If you allow your opportunistic advisers to talk you into believing that it is worth the fight against this provision, just to extend your stay in power for 15 years, rest assured that there is a very good possibility of seeing the end of your term in 2021.

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These opportunistic advisers have already convinced themselves that the power of incumbency is a guarantor for your re-election in 2021. Obviously, how easy do they forget or naively have amnesia because it was just a few years ago when an incumbent who was in power for over 20 years, and not just an ordinary incumbent. Jammeh had the trappings of one of the most powerful African leaders, with total control of all institutions in The Gambia, but a determined electorate sent him packing. The “New Gambia” comes with new political terrain, and relying on advisers who are from the Jammeh regime and opportunists who are only driven by saving their survival, can create a miscalculation and underestimating the determination of a predominantly youthful electorate. Campaigning against the draft or to be seen having a lukewarm approach could be a betrayal to the aspiration of Gambian people, but be assured that you will lose in 2021.

Any political strategist worth its salt would advise you that campaigning for the new draft constitution should be the launching of your 2021 re-election campaign. The success of the new draft constitution reinforces acceptance by Gambians to one of the major programs of the transitional government, which can be used as a launching path to your reelection. The referendum of the draft constitution under a new independent electoral commission, with a new electoral register, gives The Gambia a new beginning. Irrespective of your ambition, which clearly you have demonstrated by walking away from important aspects of the memorandum of understanding that brought you to power, it is absolutely incumbent upon you to vigorously campaign for the YES vote during the referendum, and there is no doubt that its success would be an important foundation to our future political stability which would yield the new Gambia, but also an important legacy for you in the annals of history. Let the campaign for YES vote start with you, and no doubt it is a winning strategy.

Musa Jeng
Atlanta

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