The APRC has no one to blame but itself for its dismal performance at the polls, says its former Secretary General and Information Minister Sheriff Bojang.
Since 2015, Bojang said the ruling party took “very impolitic decisions” which led to a hemorrhaging of support from its traditional bases and made the party unappealing to new millennial voters.
The majority of the APRC supporters were women and older youths, but The Gambia’s last month election saw a new group of first-time voters influencing the outcome of the polls.
President Yahya Jammeh and his APRC majority parliament in an attempt to bully the opposition to boycott the polls amended electoral regulations to hike nomination fees and stretch the human resources of the financially handicapped politicians.
In April and May of last year, security forces violently suppressed opposition protests. At least two activists died and tens of opposition supporters and leaders forcefully arrested and jailed.
For long, Jammeh succeeded in his branding of the opposition as violent selfish Gambians sponsored by the West to destabilize the country. But the manner in which the protests were handled reversed that and branded President Jammeh a “murderer and violent” Gambian who only has his own interest at heart,
Jammeh’s insulting of the Mandinka ethnic group and threatening genocide brought about more discontent and portrayed him as violent, furthermore.
The APRC lost its Christian based support after Jammeh invited controversial cleric Dr. Zakir Naik and unilaterally declared the Gambia an Islamic state.
It did not sit well with Gambians who fear sectarian violence and with the millennials who are liberal and moderate Sunni Muslims and Catholic Christians.
APRC and Jammeh petition the election results led to strong local resistance. It is unprecedented and even some of his strongest supporters like billionaire Amadou Samba and politician Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay urged him to respect the outcome of the polls.
Gambians are seeing his refusal to leave power peacefully as a way to plunge the country into a civil war and make it ungovernable.
For Bojang: this is the time for clear thinking for the APRC and not burying of heads in the sand. He has asked for his party to drop the petitions at the apex court, re-engage President-elect Adama Barrow and his Coalition team and expedite the transition arrangement.
“To remain relevant, the APRC must take the hard decisions and make the necessary systemic and structural changes within the party,” he said. “The Gambia has decided and we must accept and respect this decision.”