The leader of the United Democratic Party, Ousainou Darboe, has called on opposition APRC supporters and others to join the UDP and work for the development of the country; but many in the APRC feel targeted and are angry.
They see the government, not as a coalition but as a UDP government. Darboe says the UDP has no grievances against any individual and called for the people to join his party and forget the past differences.
The Gambia’s unity government, in what could be seen as a signal that it is not on a witch-hunt, appointed Jammeh’s former House Speaker, Abdoulie Bojang as the country’s Ambassador to South Africa.
But is this enough to attract APRC supporters to now majority “ruling” party?
With the right strategy at the local level and the engagement of members like Tina Faal, the new opposition GDC, which was a breakaway from the APRC can draw in members of the former ruling party to support them.
GDC has shown strength for a new party. It won five seats in last month’s parliamentary elections. That is an impressive number of seats in comparison to other prominent politicians, who had their own parties established but could not get 2% of the support GDC has today.
At least a dozen former APRC MPs, including Abdoulie Suku Singhateh have joined the UDP ahead of the parliamentary elections but what has not gained media attention is that the APRC has lost more than half of its leadership at the district level and most of them have joined the UDP, including ward councilors.
One such example is Ebrima Cham of Sukuta, whose campaign to become a Member of Parliament under a GDC ticket was unsuccessful. The fact is: there are so many like Cham, who have joined the ranks of the GDC.
Although there are internal fights and division within the UDP, it should not be mistaken for losing support. The UDP is stronger than ever. The UDP may be cracked with many lines but Darboe is keeping it together and as beautiful and strong as the back of a turtle.
“We must continue to maintain our relationship at all times and reject any temptation to harm our long-standing unity and one family existence,” Darboe said.
Gambian politics have turned to be interestingly unpredictable sometime and the tides can turn unexpectedly. What happens next depends on the work these parties are doing now ahead of 2019.
How they seek to handle Barrow’s resignation or continuation to rule for five years can influence the support they get from the very important Greater Kombo constituency.