The collapse of the 2016 coalition that has literary ended two decades of a brutal dictatorship in The Gambia was demystified by the renowned Gambian politician and longstanding lawmaker Sidia Jatta. Since the Coalition agreement’s demise, there have been narratives and counter-narratives concerning the short-lived marriage of rival political parties. While some Gambians place the blame squarely on the United Democratic Party leader’s doorstep for vowing to take to court anyone who forces Barrow to step down after three years in power, others blame it all on Barrow for his breach of the Coalition’s agreement.
During an intriguing interview with Fatu Camara, the Fatu Network’s proprietor, MP Jatta categorically stated that the Coalition died the day President Adama Barrow picked his Cabinet and was buried the day UDP leader Ousainu Darboe came out of prison.
Jatta, a prominent linguist, has also dismissed widespread claims that his colleague, Halifa Sallah, was ever offered a Cabinet position and that the latter was, instead, appointed as an advisor.
According to him, Barrow promised to offer him (Jatta) the much-coveted post of foreign minister during the campaign, but the president later told him that Darboe had his sight firmly set on the post. Jatta also clarified that he had turned down the education portfolio because he would be a lone voice among the technocrats.
In the meantime, Jatta touted the patriotic credentials of his long-term comrade, Halifa Sallah, who was instrumental in the 2016 Coalition. Sidia noted that the latter averted military confrontation when ECOMIG forces landed in the country, risked going to the airport as Jammeh left the country and filled the power vacuum as the then President-elect was in Dakar.
Sidia also noted that though Barrow had resigned from UDP, he did not abandon the party: The UDP itself claimed ownership of the president, insisting that Barrow was theirs before the president fell out with his former godfather.
Regarding the so-called tactical alliance, ahead of 2017 parliamentary polls, he revealed that the term was PDOIS’s coinage. However, he elaborated that though other parties favoured the idea of fielding independent candidates, Darboe was vehemently against it.
He noted that Borrow was made to believe that independent MPs will hamper his plan; hence, he campaigned for the UDP parliamentary candidates. Jatta equally blamed Darboe for the failure of the 2006 opposition Coalition due to his refusal to join it.
The comments will indeed trigger strong reactions from the UDP camp, so it will be interesting to see how Darboe will react to Jatta’s claims. The lawmaker was so audacious that he challenged doubtful of his assertions to contact him in any way possible.
Basidia M Drammeh