A little known political party in The Gambia is pushing its luck in the country’s forthcoming local government elections, testing waters to see if it can emerge as a major player in the West African nation’s politics.
The Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress (GPDP) has put up 25 candidates to run for office in next month’s local government polls. All the candidates, mostly in provincial Gambia are vying to become councilors.
The party has never put up candidates for the presidential or local government polls. They were unsuccessful in winning any seat in last year’s parliamentary elections but its party leader, Henry Gomez is the current Minister of Youths and Sports, a reward for backing President Adama Barrow in the election that ousted then-President Yahya Jammeh.
“This is something that the party has been looking for many years. We all know GPDP as a political party has not taken part in any presidential election apart from the coalition. This year, we want to come out as a party and we have to start somewhere as a party and that’s the Local Government Elections,” said Saikou Mendy, the party’s spokesperson.
GPDP is not putting up candidates for the mayorship of the country’s three most important cities: Banjul, Kanifing and Brikama, putting doubt into its capability to be even more popular than former minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty’s GMC party.
Gomez formed the party in 2004 and made an attempt to run for office in 2006. The electoral commission rejected his application for failing to meet the residency requirement. He went on to support the main opposition UDP in the subsequent polls.
It’s deputy party leader, Fatoumatta Darboe, said GPDP has never been a shadow party of the United Democratic Party, despite supporting the UDP in at least two elections.
UDP has the largest stake in President Adama Barrow’s unity government. Gomez is attempting to make his party popular but has used a gathering of Gambia’s youth earlier in the year to rally support for Mr. Barrow, who may be serving a full mandate as opposed to a three-year transitional presidency.