Halifa on Gambia’s Multiparty System

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It is a common saying that the opposition camp in The Gambia is as good as dead. However, in the view of Mr. Halifa Sallah, the Spokesperson for the opposition National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), it is the multiparty system, which is as good as dead.

For him, a multiparty system becomes vibrant when the people elect leaders on the basis of merit and not on the basis of prejudices.

“By having strongly and hotly contested seats those who win elections are kept on their guard during their term of office knowing that some, equally or more competent people are waiting at the wings to replace them if they fall short of expectations,” Halifa told our reporter in an interview yesterday.

He said people should learn to distinguish an opposition party from an opposition force.

“Who in The Gambia could say that they do not feel the weight of an opposition political force in the country which I am associated with? All Ministers and public officers would tell you that we keep them on their heels daily,” he added.

According to him, the viability of an effective political force is determined by its capacity to criticise, scrutinise and restrain those in position of public trust.

“Is there any Gambian who would claim that we have not been monitoring, criticising, scrutinising and restraining the authorities?”  he reasoned.

For him, the weight of the country’s political force is felt in The Gambia, the sub-region and the world at large.

“Hence, if others say the oppositions in The Gambia is as good as dead, I would only say that I respect their opinion but would also add that “Who the cap fits let him or her wear it”, Halifa added.

This, he went on, is a cap he and his colleagues do not deserve to wear.

“In my view, it is the multiparty system in The Gambia which is as good as dead and along with it goes a sovereign Gambian citizenry who put leaders on their toes to discuss and deserve their interest,” he said.

The NADD Spokesperson further stated that politics is designed to enable people form or join political associations of their choice. As he put it, members of the public are supposed to examine the programmes of these parties and entrust their sovereign power to those they trust so that they would be vocal in promoting their vital interests and aspirations.

“Hence, the Gambian public has given too little power to the opposition and too much power to the APRC. This is why the power is being displayed to the full so that many leaders in the opposition who are there waiting to benefit from a new government are giving up hope and are deserting to join the APRC,” he said.

According to the NADD bigwig, an opposition force may be vibrant by the sheer determination of its leaders.

However, he stated, the best way to ensure a vibrant multiparty system is for the sovereign people of The Gambia to recognise that they have more to loose in elections than the candidates who seeks to get their votes. “The more votes they give to leaders, the more political significance they give them,” he said, adding that the way to build a strong opposition is to give more votes to those who show their capacity to defend the interest of the people, regardless of whether they have the votes of the people or not.

Author: Alieu Jabang
Source: Picture: Halifa Sallah