Has The Gambia decided? If so, decided what? If not, what does it want to decide? As the clock hurriedly and patriotically ticks the countdown to the December 4th Presidential Elections of The Gambia, African countries have recently seen a U-turn in presidential elections — preceded by refusals or chaos caused by re-elections of incumbent presidents in Guinea Conakry, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania. Following the demise of Chadian leader Idriss Derby, tensions have heightened in The Republic of Chad in search of a new president. With the growing commotions and intellectual deception that the wind of tribalism and affliction has blown in the Smiling Coast of Africa, December 2021 will be one of the greatest presidential elections to remember in the history of our country. It will determine whether The Gambia has decided or not decided.
While it is very difficult to remove an incumbent president from power, many countries are beginning to hold their leaders accountable and preventing them from overstaying in power. Sometimes the truth is the best-unspoken lie! While I do not support, neither belong to nor affiliated with any political party in and outside The Gambia; I write this article here as a very good listener and reader. I only hope the future president of The Gambia will not love the earth too deeply? I hope not. At first glance, I am being reminded of these lines: ”Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. … For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much,” Alan Paton, South African writer.
I have come to the awakening that it is not difficult to be a leader in The Gambia- but it is very difficult being it. I have observed that God sent Moses to Pharaoh because how real people are, is the exact type of leader God chooses for them. In the words of Simon Sinek, ”The cost of leadership is self-interest.”
To become a registered political party, organizations must fulfill the guidelines established under section 105 of the Elections Act and complete an application form. It could be recalled that The Gambia held its last presidential election on December 1, 2016, which was disputed by former president Yahya Jammeh whose 22 years of rule ended in a defeat. According to The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), there are currently 18 registered political parties vying for the presidency on Dec. 4, 2021. And these political parties are:
1. National Unity Party (NUP),
2. Gambia Alliance for National Unity (GANU),
3. Gambia For All (GFA),
4. National Peoples Party (NPP),
5. Gambia Action Party (GAP),
6. Citizens’ Alliance (CA),
7. Gambia Moral Congress (GMC),
8. All Peoples Party (APP),
9. Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC),
10. Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress (GPDC),
11. National Reconciliation Party (NRP),
12. National Convention Party (NCP),
13. Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC),
14. United Democratic Party (UDP),
15. People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS),
16. Peoples Progressive Party (PPP),
17. Alliance for National Re-orientation and Development (ANRD); and;
18. Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
Incumbent President Barrow has a better chance of winning the upcoming elections; as he recently focused more on national development, the maintaining of peace and unity; among other things. Gambians have the choice to select one candidate out of 18, while the presidential candidates themselves might have a bigger challenge forming a coalition and selecting a flagbearer. According to a statement issued by the IEC, nomination days for presidential candidates will last from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2021. The presidential campaign is scheduled between Nov. 9 and Dec. 2, 2021, and the Election Day is December 4, 2021. The IEC also indicated that the voter registration period starts in May. 29 and ends on Jul. 11, and the new Constitution will be put to a referendum on June 5.
The population of The Gambia is currently 2.5 million people living below the poverty line of 1 dollar per day. Incumbent President Adama Barrow who will be seeking a second term has refused to step down and keeping his promise of stepping down after three years. He has formed his party; the National Peoples Party (NPP) launched on 30th January 2021 at the Independence Stadium in Bakau. President Barrow can only be defeated if the political parties form a coalition against him. On the other hand, some people believe that he could win Dec. 2021 Presidential Elections if he forms a coalition with APRC, the party of former president Jammeh.
As the elections are getting nearer, the IEC has not started voting registration as promised and has adjoined the earlier date meant for voter registration till May 29.
Note: The author does not support any political party in and outside The Gambia. He is an award-winning writer and youth leader.