The agreement that united seven Gambian opposition parties to challenge ousted ruler Yahya Jammeh in last year’s election was never signed, the country’s Foreign Secretary said.
A Memorandum of Understanding was tailored by the opposition leaders, who have been struggling to unite agreeing that the leader of their unity government will serve three years, ushering in fresh polls.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow won the opposition primary and defeated Jammeh in the December 2016 elections but critics of the new leader are now accusing him of plotting to serve a five-year term.
“The agreement was never signed,” said Ousainou Darboe, who is also the leader of the United Democratic Party, the party that chose Barrow as their presidential hopeful.
Darboe was in jail when unity talks were held and says the Constitution takes precedent. During the talks, Dr. Isatou Touray had argued that a three-year term for a transitional government will violate the Constitution. Her argument was, for the most part, ignored.
Gambians elected Barrow to serve a full five-year term and the soft-spoken leader has not been clear if he would stick with the coalition agreement.
Barrow in July left his options open putting the decision for him to serve longer than three years to the wishes of Gambians. Opposition supporters say the fear he may seek a second term.
Gambian opposition parties could not remain united. Fractures within the ranks led to the parties seeking a majority in parliament on their own. It saw the UDP winning an absolute majority stake in the government.
Gambians are expected to head to the polls in the winter of 2019 per the “unsigned agreement” but opposition supporters and critics of Mr. Barrow say it is apparent that election may not be held until 2021.