The opposition PPP, UDP, PDOIS, GMC, GPDP, and NRP had agreed to meet on March 7 to schedule to date for the signing of the document that entails their electoral reform proposal, which they intend to push forward ahead of the 2016 elections.
However, PDOIS party had refused to reach agreement, pending clarification from PPP and UDP leaders, who had purportedly had a separate but similar arrangement with an abroad-based Gambian civil society organisation, Committee for Restoration of Democracy in The Gambia, CORDEG.
“We have tried to reach Mr Darboe [UDP leader] by phone to request for postponement of the meeting scheduled for Saturday March 7, until we get clarity on statements issued in CORDEG’s press release,” Halifa confirmed writing to other parties in a reaction published by online newspapers last Wednesday.
CORDEG, in its press release, said the group had on February 23, ‘brainstormed’ and ‘agreed’ with representatives of PPP, UDP and PDOIS on need for electoral reforms and a united opposition front.
However, PDIOS denies participating in the meeting, clarifying that the party’s alleged representative, Malick Kah, of their chapter in Europe, ‘had no mandate to represent PDOIS.’
Halifa added: “…if the two opposition party leaders had indeed entered into a venture with CORDEG to jointly design a comprehensive advocacy strategy to address a dead lock on electoral reform as mentioned in the release, then their act would constitute a breach of confidentiality.”
In a text message sent to Halifa following his request for postponement, Mr Ousainou Darboe, the UDP leader cautioned Halifa against going public with information on the negotiation.
“I request you not mention how far we have gone with the negotiations on the electoral reform. Any statement on this should be made by all parties that have been attending the meetings and not by PDOIS alone whatever its views may be on the meeting,” Halifa leaked in his reaction published on Maafanta.
And, in response to Darboe’s request, Halifa lamented the failure of the PPP and UDP leaders to clarify ‘the wrong notion given to the public by CORDEG’.
“In that regard,” Halifa argued, “we will not hesitate to tell the whole world that a comprehensive programmatic document on electoral and constitutional reform has been prepared and is ready for signature. At least, we can say this much and not go into the details. This is the first point. Secondly, we have decided to put our advocacy strategy in the public domain to distance ourselves from the agreement of the two leaders with CORDEG.”
Meanwhile, opposition leaders are still tight-lipped over the issue and efforts made by this paper to have comments from them on the issue were unsuccessful. However, an opposition insider told The Standard that if Halifa and his PDOIS continue to hold out, the other parties would continue the negotiation and possibly form a coalition.]]>