Dr. Isatou Touray addressed Gambians with a call for unity and support from opposition groups to usher the nation into a third republic using a peaceful and democratic process.
Party-led coalition talks in The Gambia failed since 2006 and recent attempts stalled. The opposition in the past months mulled a primary and selection of a non-partisan independent candidate to serve as a transitional government.
Some opposition parties including the United Democratic Party say such a government should serve only two years then organize elections.
Dr. Isatou Touray has pledged to serve only a one-five year term.
Touray, 61, said the country needs strong institutions to strengthen its democracy and secure rights. The five years, she said is a well-planned timeline to help restore and revitalize key sectors of the impoverished nation: economic, agricultural, health, education, and justice.
In her address to the nation, the women’s right defender said her administration plans on setting a minimum wage, carrying out a constitutional and judicial reform, media reform and ensuring effective political participation for free and fair elections in which all opposition groups can fully participate without the current hindrances they face.
Whiles urging opposition parties to uphold their principles, Touray however, called on them to be strategic and compromise to transition The Gambia into a democratic state.
“I am not telling them to disband their parties or break them. I want them to uphold their principles but we must be strategic and we must make compromises,” she said.
Looking at electoral trends in The Gambia, Dr. Touray needs opposition support to win but she is also the unifying figure and ultimate strategy for the opposition to oust President Yahya Jammeh, giving them a fair shot at becoming a government.
The Gambia’s opposition has failed in bringing about a successful coalition due to leadership discrepancies and analysts say no opposition can win President Jammeh in polls on its own.
Electoral missions to the country said polls are not free and fair with security forces often intimidating opponents.
At least six opposition parties boycotted parliamentary and local government polls after losing in the 2011 presidential polls. It has given President Jammeh and his ruling APRC party a majority in parliament and a way to change electoral regulations to favor his regime.
Touray said the leadership challenges for a coalition should be history with her emergence. Observers say opposition parties can support her to secure a win after which they can as individual parties campaign to win majorities in the parliament and prepare for presidential polls in 2021.
Touray’s campaign has held meetings with some of the opposition parties and said the outcomes have been positive.