By Omar Bah
The spokesperson of the United Democratic Party, Almami Taal, has explained that the UDP’s marched out of the Coalition 2016 re-engagement talks after they failed to convince the members to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) before any review or amendment of the document could take place.
“The UDP does not want to have a process where other stakeholders’ good faith is not assured. The UDP position has been that before doing any review, the first agreement must be signed first. But we have observed that all the other political parties were only interested in reviewing the three-year agreement,” Taal said in a Standard exclusive yesterday.
On Monday, the UDP representatives walked out in protest during discussions being held at Kairaba Beach Hotel to review the agenda of the governing coalition.
“As it is now, the UDP cannot be part of a process until the stakeholders could demonstrate well with the process. The issue is more than the coalition stakeholders alone because the Gambian people naturally must have questions about the future of their country,” he stressed.
An executive member of one of the leading parties in the coalition told The Standard that the intent of the UDP is to get the members to sign the original MoU so that the president will be compelled to serve a three-year term.
But this has apparently failed. Reports reaching The Standard indicate that the other parties to the agreement, with the exception of PDOIS who are not taking part, have agreed to extend the agreed three-year term for the president to five years.
Adama Barrow who was nominated by the UDP before becoming an independent candidate representing Coalition 2016, campaigned on a three-year mandate but has since indicated he will stay for five years.
According to the Gambian Constitution, the president’s term is five years.
However, critics say the current talks at Kairaba Hotel are an exercise in vanity as the MoU was never signed and was never respected by coalition partners from the beginning.
Chamba’s meeting with UDP executive Asked about the reported meeting between the UDP leadership and UN special envoy Mohammed Ibn Chambas on Monday, Taal said he was not au fait with the matter and is not the competent person to speak about it.
“But I know Mr Chambas has both a personal and official relations with political party leaders in both The Gambia and the sub-region since his overall mandate is to ensure that there is peace and stability in the region,” Taal added.