Kairaba opposition talks: a mere charade

Kairaba opposition talks: a mere charade

To any keen observer with half a sense of a primary school grader, the “talks” at Kairaba is another mediocre way of opposition convincing themselves—because people’s understanding of the issue goes beyond anything any of them could possibly fathom—that there is something at Kairaba call “unity talks by opposition”.

After writing a series of analysis on the current complex but disuniting Gambian opposition in a lead up to the polls slated for December 1, I have had my own shares of the blame.

When The Voice, The Standard and some online blogs and news websites reproduced it, claims emerged that I wrote that piece because I sympathize with party A or B and one political leader goes telling people “he is now a sellout”, whatever that means.

But even those critics of my facts-based analysis were baffled when only two leaders, Dr. Isatou Touray and Dr. Bojang, showed up at Hallah Sallah’s sanctioned opposition unity “talks” that is being held at Kairaba.

Before we go further, let’s look at what gave birth to the Kairaba talks that is nothing, in reality, but a waste of time and energy for people whose mediocrity won’t allow them to confront their “differences”.

When I wrote my previous analysis which was captioned “Uniting Gambian opposition: the rambling complexities”, I argued that the only cause for Gambian opposition’s over two-decade failure to form a coalition is because none of them wants the other to get power because they can’t trust each other.

To any keen observer with half a sense as a primary school grader, the “talks” at Kairaba is another mediocre way of opposition convincing themselves—because people’s understanding of the issue goes beyond anything any of them could possibly fathom—that there is something at Kairaba call “unity talks by opposition”.

Why is the whole thing as ridiculous and as a farce as any childish mockery can get?

Well, we may first start with even the sporadic, late and low attendance of the “talks” by the opposition leaders that Sallah the coordinator and the initiator has invited.

At the first “talks” some attendees registered themselves as “observers” and the second only two opposition leaders excluding Sallah himself appeared with one, Dr. Bojang of NCP, arriving late according to Foroyaa Newspaper.

The late and low attendances are clear and unforgivable symptoms of opposition leaders’ lack of commitment of what they claim to their supporters but to avoid being shamed and named, means such as the one that Sallah planned at Kairaba have been engineered to save face and blame others.

Secondly, a primary school grader with half an average comprehension of arithmetic understands that two months to an election—a space where nomination and campaign do not even fit—is no time to start another coalition debate in the name of talks when there is a document to go on?

Which document was I referring and why is that relevant?

A few weeks ago, I ran a story on a draft document put together by some middle-rank executive members of all opposition parties except PDOIS, though GDC and NRP later pulled out, which contains a road to the formulation of an opposition coalition.

The content of this document, after huge consultations among these middle-rank executive members, proposed two plans to reaching an opposition unity: party-led which means the majority party will lead and independent-led which means a neutral person with no affiliation to any political party will lead.

After voting amongst themselves they agreed on the leadership of an independent person to lead and explain ways and procedures through which this neutral person will be selected and the qualifications the person should have.

This document, after completion, was shared with all political parties including the PDOIS, GDC, and NRP, even though Halifa Sallah so conveniently abandoned it and started his own “talks”.

The significance of this conclusion reached by the inter-party and what makes it a relevant document for anyone with an iota of interest in opposition unity is that it stated the obvious: choosing a neutral person is the only way one could have the UDP, GDC, NRP and the rest under one roof against the incumbent.

Do I explain? Well, the source of disunity among Gambian opposition is nothing but lack of trust in one another and fights over domination and control: power or who controls what.

Take that power from all of them and place it in the middle by choosing a neutral person who will lead them into a unity government if they win and massage their egos, equally.

And so if Sallah and his Kairaba friends agree with my line of thinking as far as the choosing of the independent/ neutral person is concerned, then they do not either have a clock in his houses— elections are two months away— or intend to drag opposition into another coalition failure as their supporters look on with anticipation.

Because there is no ambiguity in the language of the inter-party committee members in the choosing of a neutral person: methods, processes as well who will select.

Don’t just elect to be part of governance, be part of the entire process leading to elections.

Below is a quote on how a neutral person will be selected as mentioned in the opposition interparty committee document:

“Application will be opened to all interested Gambians and application letters will be addressed to the Chairman IPCOU;

  • The IPCOU Coordinating Committee will shortlist the applicants to be subjected to interview by a special task force committee comprising two representatives per member party which will forward its recommendations to the IPCOU Central Committee;
  • The IPCOU Central Committee will do the selection from among the recommended applicants through consensus or voting. Each party is represented by five delegates;
  • Such voting shall be a secret”

And after late response to the proposal of the interparty committee by all parties, my sources informed me, the vast majority of them have asked for the “leaders of the political parties to be given that discretion to choose their method of unification and who they will select to lead them into elections”.

Though the lateness was understandable given the circumstances because it coincided with Tobaski, the dumping of the document and starting another is ridiculous by any stretch of human imagination, especially for people who are seeking to lead a country.

Maybe Gambian opposition needs to be lectured on decision making and the significance of doing things on time, which is central to the success of corporate executives let alone presidents of countries, especially a developing nation that does not have a luxury of waiting.

And if the thinking at Kairaba talks is as bizarre as what NRP’s Musa Sonko told me to justify his party’s pull-out that the inter-party committee has “overstepped its mandate by attempting to choose a leader for political parties”, then the inevitable conclusion is that the thinking in the opposition camp makes them unworthy of a teenager’s vote.

Because that interpretation of the interparty party committee’s “proposed roadmap” is as the thinking that map-reading is the same as actual travelling, which is preposterous by any stretch of the English language.

What is even more breathtakingly ignorant was the argument advanced by one opposition member that the interparty committee has hijacked the powers of the leaders by attempting to take from them their responsibility: selecting who they will and how they will reach that conclusion.

I understood that to mean the failure to unite, as the opposition have unforgivably done to their supporters for over two decades, is exclusively a crime they alone should commit and not that to be done by some middle-rank executive members who are, after all, subjects of these party leaders.

Moreover, one opposition senior member also told me in a brief exchange, “we know what is going on” suggesting some parties are using the “independent” plan to impose a particular candidate on others.

This was from someone who was part of the interparty committee and knew every bit and piece of the document and was there talking to me in a language that not baffles but somehow makes me think as if the status of being an opposition in Gambia excuses one from the basic use of logic.

As I wrote this analysis, I just asked my two-year-old son to tell if he thinks five members from two parties out of eight could impose their will on the rest if their decision were to be based on voting as the interparty committee recommended in the selection procedure of a leader and he had a mocking but embarrassing laughter.

This is because according to the selection method of the interparty committee, each party will have five delegates with equal power on the board that will select this neutral person and a 2-year old does not think one or two parties can impose their will on others.

Or maybe somebody is right that the opposition leaders don’t just think the powers to select a leader ( a neutral person) should be given to some middle-rank executive members.

These reasons make Kairaba talks not just a mistake but a road to failure and I might add two basic arguments which are:

  • If it (Kairaba talks) select an independent person, it is a duplication of efforts made by the interparty committee that burned time and energy to reach that conclusion for months and wasting a minute will be a shame for men with half that time.
  • If they end of selecting UDP’s Adama Barrow or GDC’s Mamma Kandeh as the leaders of the so-called big parties, then I will bet my last Dalasi that none of them keeps a diary because that was the source of their previous failures. Because even the “primary idea” was just a civilize way of rejecting the idea of a party-led

The sensible question is this: what better compromise can one get UDP, GDC, NRP and the rest to make if not settling for an independent candidate?

Has selecting an independent not been the dominant argument by most people who do not agree with an idea of a party-led coalition that has been the cause of opposition disunity for over two decades?

Because even a mad man at the Serrekunda market who is listening to whispers knows that UDP won’t be part of a PDOIS or NRP-led coalition nor will they accept a GDC-led coalition.

So too is the eloquence of the GDC and NRP in their desires to lead, which leaves opposition camp in a stalemate of three parties all wanting to lead.

And when it comes to individual-led, Halifa Sallah has also demonstrated his desires to lead opposition into elections.

Wise men know that intelligent people do everything but one: that which their enemies will do for them.

And if that cuts too close to the bones, then I may add opposition supporters, as their leaders should know, have had two decades experience in failure that they will notice when one manufactures smoke to distract them from the real fire.

Follow Mustapha Darboe, an award-winning Gambian journalist – a former news editor at Today News and senior reporter at the Standard Newspaper as he disentangle the cause of opposition disunity and people responsible with smoking guns…

This article was first published on Torch on Gambia with permission to republish from the blog and the author.

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