By Omar Bah
Almamy Fanding Taal, spokesperson for the main opposition UDP, has told The Standard that President Barrow’s Tobaski call to Ousainu Darboe is a welcome development and should not be seen as if he (president) is trying to score political points. The Gambian leader took the bold decision to call his political godfather and several other opposition leaders on Tobaski day. Darboe himself has since confirmed talking to the president. However, critics of the president believe he is trying to score political points.
But Taal said the move taken by the president should be seen as a welcome development in the country’s political landscape and should not be twisted or politicised.
“It is customary even among bitter rivals during a season of religious exercise for us to reach out to our family members and friends and pray for each other for mercy of Allah. In fact, it should have been a tradition for the president,” Taal said.
He said it is a norm in The Gambia that people try to resolve their differences through peaceful efforts and religious exercises are the best times to do so.
“The party leader explained clearly that it was a goodwill gesture from the president. The party welcomes the gesture also because at the end of the day if you are leading a country, it is always important to promote peace and harmony.
“So, it should not be seen as the president is attempting to score political points because I have seen a lot of analyses heading in that direction and I don’t know if that is helpful because it is a very Gambian thing to reach out to your rivals especially your elders,” he said.
He said national development is too important to be “cynically or politically charged”.
“It is necessary for us as Gambians to work together as one people and it doesn’t matter which side of the political divide one may belong. So, it is a very good start to foster reconciliation,” he added.
Taal urged the president to be doing that more regularly to foster mutual relationship between the presidency and the country’s opposition.
“He should not see the opposition as his enemies or enemies of the state. We are working to see a better Gambia that will serve us all well – politics should respond to the needs of the people or else it will be meaningless,” he said.