By Lamain Cham
Information Minister Ebrima Silla has cited the emergence of independent candidates from among NPP’s ranks as the reason for the crushing defeat of the party in the Greater Banjul Area and West Coast in Saturday’s elections.
The governing National Peoples Party won only one seat in three important regions.
But in his analysis of the results to The Standard yesterday, Mr Sillah an executive member of the NPP who is involved in the party’s campaign in the West Coast Region, said the results do not in any way indicate a decline in support of the NPP. “Rather, the party’s votes were split between the sponsored candidates and the independent candidates who are themselves NPP but were unhappy that they were not selected and decided to run as independent. This naturally split the votes of the party, allowing the opposition to win with narrow margins. In all the areas, the NPP candidates and the independents from the party won the popular vote, meaning their combined votes are bigger than those of the eventual opposition winners,” he said.
Mr Sillah said there could also have been overconfidence on the part of the NPP supporters who thought that because of its good showing in the presidential election, the party would easily win and so they did not bother to go and vote. He explained that unlike presidential election, the NA elections are such that many factors have to do with the person who is contesting.
Asked if there were failures in the selection process of the candidates, Sillah said even though he does not take part in any selection process, he knows that a vigorous process does take place in determining who eventually becomes the party’s candidate. “But unfortunately, in some cases unselected persons, often backed by groups of supporters of the party, would not be happy with the selection and go on to become independent candidates against the official candidates which leads to splitting of the party’s votes,” he said.
The minister said the NPP is analysing the results which he said does not also show that the opposition has increased its base or numbers. “The results are not showing an increase in the support base of the opposition either,” he said.
Sillah said the voter apathy could also be due to the fact that the election is held in Ramadan.
He explained also that it is very common in most part of the world for ruling parties to struggle to take total control of the legislature.
”In any case, the government will continue to work for the interest of the nation and it is expected the new NAMs will also serve the interest of the country at all times,” Mr Sillah said.