With the apparent withdrawal of two of its constituent parties, the national alliance for democracy and development seems to find itself at a critical crossroads. The implications of the UDP/NRP withdrawal cannot be lost on the remaining parties. Suffice to say they are the two largest opposition parties that constitute NADD and their apparent departure leaves behind two parties that have never contested any national elections on their own in the second republic and one solid party with well not a large support base.
So where does that leave NADD as an entity? Opinions vary and emotions are high on Gambian forums. Some fervent NADD supporters are interjecting tribe and tribalism into the mix. It is an ugly proposition to think that some of us are so desperate and devoid of solution that we will bring tribal sentiments into the midst of a political quarrel without any tangible evidence. Granted, numerous individuals to set up NADD spend a lot of time and energy and their frustration with the turn of events is understandable. However, the situation today calls for deal making and cajoling than casting blame.
Needless to say, the UDP/NRP coalition is a force to reckon with in Gambian politics. The 1996 and 2001 presidential elections results support this fact. You can view the results here. This doesn’t negate the fact that a united opposition would have been the ideal tool to confront the APRC juggernaut.
Tempers are short and frustrations abound, but we cannot and must not trample on the rights of individuals and their constituents parties to withdraw from a political alliance when they feel such an alliance doesn’t serve the interest of their supporters. Democracy is messy and this is one of those undesirables that we have to tolerate in building a democratic society….the right of individuals and parties to disagree and desert a group they don’t desire to be a part of. In the fight against a dictatorship, we may bemoan the splintering of unity, but we should never lose sight of the right to association.
Calling some one a traitor, a tribalist or what ever name some commentators are using on Gambian forums to describe Ousainou Darbo is not helpful. The die has been cast. Messrs Darbo and Bah decided to leave NADD and form an alliance and that is their right. I may not agree with it but I will defend their right to association. The notion that the end justifies the means, even if the process is flawed is not good enough. NADD supporters should regroup and strategize rather than spew venom on people who left the coalition. The fact that this is not happening, but rather a slugfest is taking place on line about the tribal component of certain parties says a lot about the weight of the two departed parties and how it leaves NADD as an empty shell. We can gloss over it all we want but the realties on the ground (and that’s what matters) doesn’t bode well for NADD without UDP/NRP. They constitute most of NADD’s support base where it actually matters …the electorate.
Gambians in the diaspora disappointed at the turn of events need to put on a different hat and think of ways to get the fragmented opposition to work together. The old setup is gone and dwelling on it is not going to help matters. We have to constructively come to terms with the fact that a new setup/alliance is needed before October. We can argue forever who is at fault and there are plenty of people to blame, but at the end of the day the biggest threat to our nation is Yahya Jammeh. Lest we forget.