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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Political parties need change

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I read, with much dismay, in the edition of The Standard of 28 October 2014, the headline that the UDP may boycott the 2016 election, according to Ousainou Darboe. This forewarning statement is presumptuous and ambivalent, especially coming from someone who would be disqualified by his advanced age to run in 2016.  Ousainou’s continuing and overarching importance in the UDP has already raised comments in the social media, one in particular by Sidi Sanneh, who must be commended for pointing to the absence of democratic change within the UDP.

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However, Sidi’s line of argument, particularly concerning the UDP, could easily be further carried to embrace a more general problem: the lack of meaningful democratic process or change in all parties in The Gambia, past or present. PDOIS, for example, is one of the oldest parties, existing in  the past three decades, yet Halifa Sallah (and Sidia Jatta), its founders, are rooted at the helm of this party as if no PDOIS member, past, present, or in the future, could ever provide better socialist wisdom or better leadership.  During his life time, Sheriff Dibba dominated the NCP without question or rival, as the party vacillated according to his whims and ambitions, and in the end, the NCP had to be literally buried with him. For three decades, the PPP dominated the country’s political landscape, only to wane into a shadow of its past without Sir Dawda; the likes of Omar Amadou Jallow may try to resuscitate the PPP, but the party apparently cannot outlive the allure of Sir Dawda of the party’s heydays.

To come back to Sidi’s point, in the past two decades, the UDP, under Ousainou Darboe, tried and failed to unseat the APRC or even come close, but worse, the party deliberately failed or constitutionally was unable to retire Ousainou from the leadership, even though a number of party members could have taken over, and perhaps could have improved the political fortunes of the party.

Looking back into the history of parties: the United Party of Pierre Sarr Njie, the Muslim Congress of Garba Jahumpa, and the Democratic Party of Reverend JC Faye, and the list could go on, all faded with the demise of these personalities, as if these parties had no ideologies or agenda beyond their founders. Given this political track record, it is even hard to imagine in the future that an NRP could exist without Hamat Bah or an APRC without President Yaya Jammeh!

In this country, we must all agree, democracy is still in an inchoate state, not because the electorate is “illiterate”, as often easily and wrongly cited, but because at the very root of the matter, political parties have deeply ingrained tradition and proclivity to be undemocratic, existing only to serve the political ambitions or fortunes of their founders or leaders, despite the highfaluting proclamations and manifestos. It is therefore about time that political parties stand for and practise true democratic principles, ideals, and processes, so that once or if in power, these tendencies could be imbued into the branches of government, public institutions, and the society at large.

 

 Bai Lamin Jobe

 Kerr Serigne Njagga

Email : [email protected]

 

Correction

Re: Acct General raises issues on gov’t’s 2011 financial report 

 

It has been brought to our notice in our quoted article published on Friday 31st October, 2014, Mr Karamba Touray was referred to in an instance as the Accountant General. He is in fact the Auditor General. 

Thank you Mr Kalipha MM Mbye for pointing out the error.

 

Editor

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