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City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

MAI FATTY REPLIES HAMAT BAH

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Writing to The Standard exclusively, Mr Fatty stated: “Our goal, among others, is to garner meaningful public conversation or engagement as to the content and procedure of such a national dialogue – a trajectory leading to durable, desirable, equitable and comprehensive democratic political reforms. It is encouraging to have this type of healthy public conversation among ourselves. I thank both leaders. 

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“As Mr Darboe had mentioned earlier, this is not an entirely new idea. Indeed, our colleagues at PDOIS had also harped on similar views times galore. Mr Omar Jallow of the PPP and I had also shared on this matter, much earlier, and our views are close. The president, on numerous occasions emphasised the need for ‘all hands on the deck’ in moving our country forward. A serious national political dialogue involving all sides of the aisle on issues impacting governance and the electoral system, is a serious implementation of ‘all hands on the deck’ policy. There is therefore, irrefutably, an established consensus on the relevance of a structured national political dialogue among all stakeholders. Its great urgency is what I seek to expound. The view of Mr Bah as to extending the dialogue to include all segments of the polity is in principle, a plausible one. All ideas ought to be evaluated and weighed according to their feasibility and effectiveness towards achieving the overriding goal. 

“Admittedly, Mr Bah made some useful observations which we took cognisance of, and for which we applaud him. However, it is important to clarify what I did not say or meant. In the spirit of nurturing multi-partisan collaboration, it is expedient, in this public response, to articulate on what we meant for the fuller appreciation of all Gambians, particularly the political class.  GMC advocates for a political dialogue among political parties, and not a negotiation with the government, as understood by Mr Bah. There is a clear distinction between a ‘dialogue’ and a ‘negotiation’. No segment of Gambian society should ‘negotiate’ the proper enjoyment of democratic rights and the rule of law with the state – that is to say there is no need to negotiate on governance and the principles of electoral fair-play because these rights are inalienable. We can ‘dialogue’ on the best means of achieving these for all.

“Therefore, our public statement on dialogue should not ordinarily provoke a diversionary and divisionary discourse he engaged in. I did not state or imply privileged positions for the opposition as Mr Bah inferred the late S.M Dibba demanded of President Jawara. Certainly those assertions have no bearing on my particular public statement issued earlier.  President Jammeh as the party leader of APRC is the proper person to respond to policy proposals from his fellow party leaders either directly or through the medium of the APRC. He has not expressed any opposition to engaging on a national dialogue. It would be improper for anyone to pre-empt him or put words in his mouth. I want to believe that the president appreciates that The Gambia will be stronger if both the opposition and the APRC work together in resolving the urgent challenges we confront both as a nation and as a people.

“I share in part the view of Mr Bah that the opposition is weak. Notwithstanding, I strongly differ on his reasons for this weakness. It lies partly in an electoral system that is heavily skewed in favour of one side, and electoral parity laws that are both intentionally and inefficiently enforced and applied by the IEC. It also has more to do with the overall system of governance, and this should have been acknowledged I note that he has been in politics for thirty years as the sole leader of the NRP. The politics of bickering, confrontation, hostility and business as usual, should belong to the past. I am about the future, and not the past. I am about unity and not division. I am about cooperation and collaboration and not confrontation. I am about supporting the government where they make progress on areas of common policy convergence, and providing solutions on areas of divergence, not opposing for the sake of mere opposition. I am about working on the long term challenges that have been left unattended to, and not about past failures. I am about building a strong and united Gambia, not magnifying our philosophical differences. Those leaders who are about the destiny and future of this nation would easily recognise the need for all parties (both governing & opposition) to caucus together on resolving the perennial issues directly relating to governance and the electoral system. In our few years of existence, our policy has been to work with all relevant stakeholders with sincerity, commitment, purposefulness, and mutual respect. We have no issues with any Party in the nature described by him. 

“Mr Bah and I have very strong personal connection in the past. I invite him to join in the building of a national political coalition of progressive elements, hedging on our strong personal relationship as a basis to work together. Our call is for a seismic shift in relations between the government and the opposition. The opposition cannot do it alone without the APRC and the government cannot succeed by marginalising the opposition and its hundreds of thousands of voter supporters, who are equally Gambians. We will all make progress if we come together to fix the broken electoral system and issues of governance. Will you be a partner or an impediment? That is the question to be answered by all stakeholders. Lastly, we shall formally forward written elements of our ideas as a basis for a working proposal on the dialogue as we continue to intensify consultations among stakeholders.”

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