Everyone agrees that the events that took place in Tallinding [Gambia] on Sunday may 29th 2005… the official launch of an opposition coalition to uproot Yaya Jammeh’s entrenched dictatorship was a big event. But how big, for what reason, and whither it points the Gambia, remains enclouded by a storm of ideological hopes and projections. After every major election, its results are immediately subject to mixed explanations. After our 2001 presidential elections, Yaya Jammeh’s victory was attributed to electoral fraud, intimidation and Ousainou’s ineffective campaign, culminating in his throwing in the towel… even though the majority of his supporters are gearing up for a challenge to the fraudulent election result.
Not only is objective truth probably not discernable in these circumstances, but most of us (the commentators and players) had vested interests in pushing one explanation or another. Note to self don’t dwell on the past elections…be optimistic.
Which brings me to the question how big or important was this event? Aside from the size of the crowd, bringing together Gambian politicians of the ego that assembled at that Tallinding event for a common cause is no easy feat. That in of itself goes to show the urgency of their mission…getting rid of Tony Daba (Yaya Jammeh) before he runs the country into the ground. How many more reasons do any opposition figure in that nation need to see the good in this coalition? Rescuing and restoring the vibrancy of a nation trumps petty politics and individual ambitions. Any time you can bring the likes of Omar Jallow and Halifa Sallah to share the same platform, you know there is something special going on.
So whither it points the Gambia? The coalition theoretically is a sound idea. Building civil institutions under a quasi-interim government that can’t participate in a subsequent election five years later will go a long way in fostering the entrenchment of democratic values and all that comes with it. Let’s hope NADD’s eventual leader will put these theories to practice and will not succumb to sycophancy and the aroma of power.