The Gambia’s youngest party is facing a widening breach in their structure with some of the party’s founders putting up a split-screen with its leader, Mama Kandeh.
Mama Kandeh took part in a hard-fought election that sent former President Yahya Jammeh packing but his wary colleagues are making him face a leadership challenge within his own party.
The growing tension between the party’s ascendant militants like Musa Batchilly and conservative politicians like Kandeh is now vivid and cannot be hidden.
Kandeh wants to take a millennial approach to politics but has the old way of Gambian politics still deeply rooted in his ways.
It may be essential for Kandeh to reconcile the GDC’s two clashing impulses if they are to upset the next presidential and parliamentary polls.
In a promising political environment, a drawn-out struggle over GDC’s strategy and ideology could spill into fractions that may hurt the party and disrupt its path to a majority.
On the one hand, the majority stakeholder party in the Gambia’s unity government, UDP is more emboldened than they have been in decades, galvanized by President Adama Barrow’s unexpected successes in 2016.
Cognizant of this, GDC should take advantage of the surge of grass-roots energy dedicated to confronting any emerging unpopular president.
But it cannot do that if it does not address its internal squabbles.
Friction has already flared between Kandeh’s loyalists and those closely aligned with Mr. Batchilly.
Kandeh is apparently building new relationships and appointed new officials to his party’s leadership.
his supporters have continued to seek out a victory on their own terms — so far with little success — by venturing into parliamentary and local government elections.
The biggest test so far for Kandeh is this split screen in his party. He must keep them together and avoid any more expulsions or resignations.
If this is not addressed, GDC risk losing every election it takes part in until the party quietly gets buried.
Kandeh should take a lesson from the very split in the APRC that he took advantage of from the day of his expulsion. He must not subject himself to the same mistake.