MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ESTABLISHING AN ALLIANCE OF OPPOSITION PARTIES IN THE GAMBIA
We, the undersigned representatives of opposition political parties, who seek to establish an alliance, are fully conscious of the duty, that wisdom and honour bestow on us, to explain to the people, from whose consent we must derive the authority to preside over the affairs of the nation and to generations yet unborn, the exceptional circumstances which compelled us to assemble and take these decisions that are here engraved or entrenched in this Memorandum Of Understanding.
Two years following the coup d’etat of July 22nd 1994, The Gambia was supposed to have gone through a transition from an unconstitutional and undemocratic system of government imposed by the AFPRC regime, based on the might of the gun, to a constitutional and democratic system of government, based on the consent of the people under a Second Republic.
Gambians were made to believe that the Second Republic would usher in an era of transparency, accountability and probity. A period of rectification was promised that would put an end to the alleged abuse of office, corruption and other related vices of public office, which negated the welfare of the people.
To achieve these fundamental aims, state administration under the Second Republic should have been characterized by the initiation of constitutional, institutional and administrative reforms and the setting into motion of policies, programmes and democratic practices that would oblige the members of the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and all the other custodians or trustees of public authority to perform their duties in accordance with the dictates of law and the general welfare of the people.
However, it has become evident that after eight years of APRC rule under the Second Republic, the government has not lived up to its promises and has not shown any commitment to enlarge the freedom of the people or ensure their empowerment. On the contrary, it has systematically amended the constitution and enacted laws that concentrate power in the hands of the executive, stifle the authority of the people and legitimise impunity in both matters of governance and economic management.
Constitutional amendments such as the deletion of the elective principle in constituting district and village leadership and the usurpation of such powers by the President and the Secretary of State for Local Government, respectively; the negation of the autonomy of local government bodies through the introduction of intrusive laws that enable the Secretary of State for Local Government to exert undue control over the affairs of local councils in contravention of the principles of decentraliation and devolution of power to local authorities and communities; the assault on the independence and integrity of the Independent Electoral Commission by the removal and replacement of its Chairperson by the President; the frequent shifting and firing of public servants without any legal process; the general militarization of government affairs through the declaration of one operational code after another provide us with ample evidence of the trend towards the centralization of abso! lute power in the hands of the executive.
The abuse of such absolute power is further evidenced by frequent threats to deprive communities of public services because of political affiliation, the arbitrary arrest and detention of persons beyond the constitutional provision of 72 hours set for detention without trial and the unparalleled affront to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary as the president makes repeated claims that he is responsible for the imprisonment of persons convicted by courts.
It goes without saying that maladministration in matters of governance is further compounded by the mismanagement of the economy which has led to the contraction of the productive base, the dwindling of the required investment capacity to generate employment and enhance the income earning capacity of the people, escalation of internal and external borrowing, chronic indebtedness, depreciation of the Dalasi, skyrocketing prices and a perpetual increase in poverty.
Despite all the evidence that the regime is neither capable nor willing to protect and enlarge the rights and freedoms of the citizenry and free them from economic mismanagement and poverty, it has been making systematic effort to perpetuate itself in office beyond the year 2020.
This is corroborated by the failed attempt to abrogate the permanent structures of the IEC because of the stringent requirements imposed by the constitution in case of amendment of entrenched clauses; the repealing of the provision for the second round of voting, should no Presidential candidate receive more than fifty percent of the total number of votes validly cast at an election on the first ballot; the complete monopoly of the state media and the attempt to establish a media commission that could close down media houses on the basis of administrative discretion, which was aborted only because of outcry, both national and international; the refusal to allow Citizen FM to operate because of administrative recalcitrance; the imposition of a bond of half a million dalasi on media houses before being allowed to operate and its retroactive application to close down existing media houses who may not be able to comply; the establishment of draconian laws which impose prison ! sentences of not less than six months with neither an upper limit nor the option of fine for offences such as uttering seditious words, publishing false news, publishing cartoons which are considered to be derogatory; the partisan approach to public administration, the personalization of the public service delivery system and the stifling of the National Council for Civic Education which should have had access to the national television and other public media to provide civic awareness to the people on their constitutional, political and civic rights.
These omissions and transgressions reveal with overwhelming thoroughness that the regime has capitulated to the temptation of perpetuating itself in office, despite all its shortcomings.
In this light, we the undersigned representing our political parties, are obliged to strive for the establishment of an alternative government in order to put an end to self-perpetuating rule, establish proper democratic and constitutional safeguards, implement sound and sustainable economic policies and ensure that patronage, intimidation and inducement shall not stifle the undiluted consent of the people.
Appreciating that no single opposition party can put an end to self-perpetuating rule given the culture of patronage, intimidation and inducement that has already taken root in the political life of the country;
Taking note of the fact that any given party may easily lapse into the vicious cycle of self-perpetuating rule if the proper institutional and administrative safeguards are not put in place to ensure democratic processes and practices;
Recognizing that empowering the Gambian people, to build a durable and sustainable democracy, is the only way to put an end to the self-perpetuating rule of the APRC regime and bar the possibility of the emergence of any government that would perpetuate itself in office in the future;
Conscious of the fact that a sustainable democratic system can best thrive within a multi-party political environment that would enable many parties to have the competence to be credible alternatives to any party in office;
Being fully committed to the values of fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law, the dignity of the human person, good governance and democratic culture;
Being fully conscious of the imperative and urgent need to consolidate the aspirations of the Gambian people for greater national unity transcending tribe, religion, gender, place of origin, birth, disability or other status;
Firmly convinced that an alliance transcending ideological and other differences in principle, policies and programmes could augur well for the country by ensuring the adherence to a common code of conduct and thus consolidate a culture of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, democratic participation, tolerance of diversity that can serve as a launching pad for genuine multi-party electoral contest based on diverse principles, policies programmes and practices;
Acknowledging the fact that commitment to the values of fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law, the dignity of the human person, democracy and good governance characterized by transparency, accountability and popular participation shall best prepare The Gambia for African integration and raise the prestige and reputation of the country at the international level;
Drawing our inspiration from our own acknowledgement of these ideals, we the representatives of the political parties here assembled agree as follows:
Name, Goals and Strategic Objective and Mechanism of the Alliance
1. Establishment of the Alliance
An alliance is hereby established. The name of the alliance is National Alliance for Democracy and Development with the acronym (NADD).
The goal of the alliance is to put an end to self-perpetuating rule, ensure the empowerment of the people so that they can participate in sustainable development.
3. Strategic Objectives
The strategic objectives of the Alliance shall be to:
A. put in place constitutional and legal instruments as well as democratic institutions and practices covering all areas of state administration and management so as to put a definitive end to self-perpetuating rule and ensure the empowerment of the people;
B. pull together resources within the framework of the alliance to contest the forthcoming presidential, National Assembly and Local Government elections;
C. Launch a five year transitional rectification programme in order to ensure an open democratic society based on the promotion of national unity, freedom, peace, prosperity and justice for all;
D. create an economic environment that ensures the development of the productive base, maximize economic growth, employment and general welfare as well as foster African regional integration;
E. promote the ideals, policies and programmes of ECOWAS and other sub-regional groupings in particular and the African Union in general;
F. promote the fullest participation of the people, especially the Gambian women, in development and maximize the benefits derived therefrom;
G. promote the prestige and image of the country internationally by ensuring full respect for the human rights of the citizenry and their democratic participation in running the country in accordance with the ideals enshrined in international human rights law and norms of best practice;
H. develop partnership with civil society organizations to enable them to participate and guide the governance and development priorities of the country;
I. encourage the freedom of information through the creation of laws and practices that would safeguard the independence and impartiality of the public media and the freedom of the non-governmental media to disseminate information without censorship;
J. establish a code of conduct that will put an end to the politics of slander, character assassination, patronage and intimidation and replace it with the politics based on enlightenment, principles, policies and programmes.
A. All opposition parties who are signatories to this memorandum of understanding shall be founding members of the Alliance.
B. Any opposition party that has not been a member of the Alliance may notify the coordinator of its intention to accede to this Memorandum Of Understanding. The coordinator shall, upon receipt of such notification, provide them with an official copy of the Memorandum of Understanding and further transmit the signed copy to the executive committee of the Alliance. The opposition party acquires full membership once the instrument of accession is reviewed and approved by the executive committee and deposited at the Secretariat of the Alliance.
C. All members of the Alliance shall be equally represented in all the organs of the Alliance.
POLICY MAKING ORGANS
5.The Executive Committee
There shall be an Executive Committee of the Alliance, which shall be the highest decision making organ of the Alliance comprising two members from each member party. One other member shall be selected to serve as an alternate. At least one of the Permanent Members of the Executive Committee or the alternate shall be a woman The Executive Committee shall be responsible for policy making. The Chairperson, Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator of the Alliance shall be ex-officio members of the Executive Committee.
6.The Technical Committee
Policy, Planning, Assessment and Advisory Organ
There shall be a Technical Committee of the Alliance comprising two members and one alternate member appointed by each member party. At least one of the permanent members of the Technical Committee or the alternate shall be a woman. The Technical Committee shall have an advisory role and shall be accountable to the Executive Committee for all its activities.
It shall be responsible for the facilitation of policy formulation, planning, assessment, briefings and recommendations to the Executive Committee. It shall receive periodic assignments from the Executive Committee for review and recommendation on any matter.
7. The Secretariat
Administrative, Information, Education, Communication and Implementation Organ
There shall be a secretariat constituting the administrative and financial organs of the Alliance. It shall be the administrative and implementation organ of the alliance. It shall have an administrative and financial staff managed by a subcommittee comprising the Coordinator and one of the members of the party representatives in the Technical Committee, with the other member serving as alternative. The secretariat shall be housed in the headquarters of the Alliance and shall have branches in the seven administrative areas. The exercise of direction and control over matters relating to staff, budgets, banking, finance, accounting and auditing shall be bound by established rules and procedures drawn up by the Technical Committee and approved by the Executive Committee. It shall implement policies on information, education and communication as proposed by the Technical Committee and approved by the Executive Committee.
The Chairperson shall preside over all meetings of the Executive Committee. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator shall preside. The Chairperson and Coordinator shall perform advisory functions. Neither the Chairperson nor the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator shall have voting powers.
ELECTIONS AND TENURE OF OFFICE
8. Nomination of Candidate
The selection of the candidate of the Alliance for the presidential, National Assembly and council elections shall be done by consensus; provided that in the event of an impasse selection shall be done by holding a primary election restricted to party delegates on the basis of equal number of delegates, comprising the chairman, chairwoman and youth leader of each party from each village/ward in a constituency.
9. Tenure of Office of Interim President under the Alliance
a) The interim president of the republic under the Alliance shall serve for one five year term of office only. He/she shall vacate his or her seat at the end of his or her term and shall neither seek nor support the candidature of any other person for the ensuing presidential election.
b) A constitutional provision shall be put in place under the Alliance that would limit the number of terms a person can occupy the office of president of the republic to two.
10. Decision Making
Decision making at all levels of the committees of the Alliance shall be based on the principle of unanimity provided that matters of procedure shall be determined on the basis of simple majority of the delegates present and voting. In the event of the need to break an impasse the delegates may agree unanimously to make a decision by consensus.
At least one member of each member party shall be present to have a quorum.
All agreements or decisions shall be authenticated by appending the signatures of all the representatives associated with a given committee of the Alliance. All pages of any agreement of the Alliance shall contain the initials of the signatories to be deemed as authentic. All instruments of the Alliance shall be deposited with the coordinator for safekeeping and proper custody.
The Alliance stands dissolved when the majority of its members sign a petition to call for its dissolution and upon the confirmation of the positions of each party at a meeting of the Executive Committee. The disposal of resources shall be the subject of a subsequent protocol to the Memorandum of Understanding.
14. Every mandate given and decision taken with the authorization of the Executive Committee, prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, shall be deemed to be approved as if they were done under this Memorandum Of Understanding.
15. The Alliance shall prepare a Code Of Conduct to guide the political conduct of its member parties and its supporters within one month of the coming into force of this agreement to ensure that slander, intimidation, inducement and appeal to ethnic, religious and other divisive sentiments shall be expunged from the platform of the Alliance.
16. The Alliance shall have an emblem, colour, motto and symbol to be determined within one month of the coming into force of the agreement with the full participation of its supporters and sympathizers.
17. The Memorandum Of Understanding shall come into force upon the appending of signatures by two representatives of each party, one of whom shall be its president/chairperson or secretary general.
18. Upon signature of the Memorandum of Understanding all provisional responsibilities such as the offices of Chairperson and Coordinator ceases and the members of the Executive Committee shall elect the substantive holders of such offices in line with the Memorandum of Understanding.
Done this ……… day of ………………….. in the year ……….
National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM)
National Reconciliation Party (NRP)
People’s Democratic Organisation for
Independence and Socialism (PDOIS)
People’s Progressive Party (PPP)
United Democratic Party (UDP)