Halifa Sallah release the following statement after his selection as NADD’s flagbearer. Meanwhile any hope at reconciling the opposition is made difficult by diatribes like this one courtesy of Lamin Waa juwara:
Commenting on the withdrawal of UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and NRP’S Hamat Bah from NADD, Waa charged that both Darboe and Bah don’t have the country’s interest at heart, otherwise they would have stayed on board to meet the needs and aspirations of Gambians both at home and abroad for a change of political leadership in the tiny West African country.The withdrawal of Darboe and Hamat from NADD was not justifiable at all. There was absolutely no mistrust amongst coalition leaders. They don’t have the country’s interest at heart. We expected them to respect NADD’S MOU and code of conduct and not to behave otherwise. They are all signatories to the MOU.“ Mbarodi fumed.
The exodus of former NADD members such as Assan Musa Camara and MC Cham to the APRC is not helping matters much. I wonder what the ex-chairman of STGDP (Kebba Foon) will call these new NADD deserters? He call Darbo and by extension Mandinkas tribalist when that guy resigned from NADD. Here is a quote from a posting he made on the Gambia post:
Ladies and gentlemen, I knew long time ago that Ousainou Darboe never meant the the above words he uttered thus what I told Baboucarr Ceesay in Minnesota. I always knew that his party and tribal affiliation was supreme to him which is contrary to the above statement. Mr. Ceesay I say it like it is. I observed a big coincidence that only Mandingos came here in the defence of Osainou Darboe. My brother, Jammeh and the APRC always knew this and they have been using this to win the past two elections. For your information, all the other tribes abhors the Mandingos but they will not talk about it in the open but they will say it loud when they go the polls.
To say that his statement is an affront is an understatement. I am personally offended by this idiots unwarranted and ignorant attack on me and many others who happen to be mandinka by tribe. He claimed that mandinkas are abhor by other tribes. What a moron. Many of us come from families that are not as monolithic as Kebba Foon’s. We have uncles, aunts, grandparents you name it that are from other tribes (atleast speaking of my family). The scary part is that this neantherdal was until recently leading an organisation (STGDP) fighting to bring democracy and the rule of law to the Gambia. I guess Kebba Foon has always been an undercover tribal man…he is just using this occasion to come out of the closet. Well at least Buba warned us a while ago that the man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Here is an excerpt of what Buba wrote on his site:
There is ample evidence to suggest that former STGDP chairman Kebba Foon has
a clear agenda against Darboe. At a by-election fundraiser in Minnesota, I became apprehensive about his credibility as a neutral partner after he expressed bitterness about Darboe’s “sole desire to lead the coalition.” He also complained bitterly about why Darboe had to come to the US on a separate visit when his colleagues had already visited.
After the publication of this article, Kebba Foon’s intergrity was vouch for then by some well meaning Gambians. I wonder what they have to say now that he told every body what him and his friends think of mandinkas? I got sidetracked there for a minute. However it is important that I voice out my contempt for Kebba Foon and his tribal diatribe. Pasted below is the press release:
DECLARATION BY FLAG BEARER
Today, marks the beginning of the final phase of the long journey towards the consolidation of NADD as an instrument for guiding the Gambian people to ensure that they are the architects and guardians of there destiny. The evolution of NADD to become an alternative Government in 2006 has entered its most decisive stage Barely a month after its birthday, 17th January 2006 NADD has selected a flag bearer on the basis of unanimity. This constitutes an extraordinary demonstration of unity of will and purpose. The reason for the birth of NADD is simple. Those who are acquainted with the history of countries and nations know that when a people are confronted with shattered lives and or hopeless existence, those among them who have confidence in the creative powers of the masses must create the centrifugal force which is capable of sensitizing, mobilizing and organizing them to take charge of their destiny and be the architects of a new existence based on renewed hopes and aspirations.
Within one year of its existence NADD has become a Central instrument for the articulation of the vital interests and concerns of the Gambian people. Herein lies the reason why the vast majority is concerned with its survival, protection and development.
Hence, in assuming the function of flag bearer it is necessary to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of NADD in relation to the strengths and weaknesses of the other political forces that are interested in its disintegration and death. This is the only way to enable the people to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to avoid the pitfalls and submerged rocks to attain our aims. Our objective today is not to boast of success and achievement despite overwhelming obstacles and odds; on the contrary, it is to gauge the task that the current situation imposes on us in particular and the Gambian people in general with utmost exactness so that we can lay a correct strategy and a clear line of conduct at this turning point in Gambia’s history to enable our people to make a big leap forward in 2006 towards democracy and development.
The history of NADD began with the signing of a remarkably clear and concise document which embodies in totality the fundamental objectives of NADD, commonly referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding. On 17th January 2005, twelve leaders appended their signatures to this historic document. Two signatures came from each of the five parties which gave birth to NADD. The two other signatories are the Chairperson and the Coordinator of NADD who were elected by the party representatives. The leaders did not only append their signatures, they made solemn declaration before an expectant and electrified crowd of their profound faith and commitment to the principles and objectives of NADD. This invitation for the people and posterity to be the witnesses of the exercise sealed the integrity of the Alliance. The stormy enthusiasm of the crowd gave the signatories of the Memorandum extraordinary power of conviction.
An Alliance Of Principle Not An Alliance Of Convenience Contrary to the arguments of NADD’s critics that it is an alliance of convenience, the Memorandum of Understanding has impressed on the people with a remarkable force of logic that the alliance is a by-product of historic necessity. It addresses the demands of our times and circumstances. Those who are conscious of the history of the liberation movements, are fully aware that the failure to carry out the democratic revolution after the birth of Independent states had been a fetter to the empowerment of the people and the stifling of their creative powers to build united countries endowed with liberty and prosperity.
The Memorandum of Understanding made it abundantly clear that the coup d’etat of 1994 did not address the demands of post Independent Africa for Democracy and Development. It insists that the 1994 to 1996 transition did not yield a society based on transparency and accountability that the people envisaged nor had it given rise to democratic and constitutional existence that gives the people full authority to determine their manner of government at the Village and District levels and exercise checks over their representatives at the national level. The Memorandum therefore calls for a five year democratic transition to a genuinely democratic and constitutional order that will enable political parties to exist and seek the mandate of the people based on principles and institutions that safeguard best practices of governance in the world. This is why the Memorandum states categorically that the Alliance is rooted in the consciousness of the imperative and the 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 and the conviction that an alliance transcending ideological and other differences in principles, 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 multiparty electoral contest based on diverse principles, policies, programmes and practices.
NADD is not designed to negate a multiparty system; on the contrary it creates the basis for a level ground after a five year democratic transition for each party or presidential aspirant to seek the mandate of the people without any obstacles. This is precisely why the NADD presidential candidate is to serve only one five year term of office and would neither seek a second term nor promote the candidature of any person in the next following election. During the five years, a collective leadership of the representatives of parties shall put in place a cabinet and government that will pursue the following strategic objectives:
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.
The Alliance formulated a Code of Conduct to promote political decency in the country. The Alliance engaged in consultation with the regime through the auspices of the commonwealth. This culminated in the formulation of a Code of Conduct to guide relations between opposition and government. A former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdusalami Abubacarr, was appointed as the moral guarantor of the implementation of the provisions of the Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct was signed on behalf of all parties on the 6th of February 2006 through the mediation of President Obasanjo. The Alliance further authorized visits by the Coordinator to introduce the consultative environment it aims to promote in its relation with other political parties, government and public servants. In this way, the Alliance sought to eliminate any misunderstanding or ill will between political opponents.
On 29th May 2005, the Alliance launched its sensitization and mobilization campaign to broaden its support base among the masses. The simplicity and clarity of explanation regarding the origin and objectives of NADD enabled it to win popular appeal. By the end of May 2005, NADD was set to become a major political force that the ruling APRC could no longer ignore.
Temporary Set Back
Initially, the regime did not appear to acknowledge NADD’s overtures for a new political dispensation in the country. Particularly characteristic of the leadership of the APRC regime was their tendency to ridicule the opposition by using threatening phrases and sarcasm.
The first major challenge to the integrity of NADD is when the seats of four National Assembly members were declared vacant on the basis of a provision of law that bars a National Assembly member from leaving the party of which he or she was a member when elected. The Court decision appeared to put a nail on the coffin of NADD. This gave the impression that the NADD leadership had committed political suicide. Instead of whining, the NADD leadership took the obstacles as something temporary. We rapidly grasped the correct strategies to adapt to find a way forward for NADD. The NADD leadership accepted to participate in the by elections under NADD. The tragedy of losing seats in the National Assembly was translated into extraordinary conviction to ensure the survival, protection and development of NADD.
Instead of things falling apart to bring in its wake a large scale disintegration of NADD and desertion of its supporters, the by-elections enabled NADD to test its electoral strength. In six by-elections under NADD it is leading in the number of seats and in popular votes. It has won three parliamentary seats against two by the APRC and one seat of Councillor. It has became abundantly clear after the by-elections that the regime had underestimated the strength of NADD and its popularity. The NADD leadership was soberly weighing its strength and weaknesses after 4 by elections when a new threat to its existence unfolded. The regime accused the opposition of subversive activities without clarifying whether it was referring to registered political or clandestine movements abroad. An attempt by NADD to set the record straight was followed by arrests, detention and charges of sedition and issuing false statements.
The alarming public notices associated with the arrests dampened the spirit of all peace loving Gambians. For a while it appeared that the country was sliding into dark days of political repression and violence. Attempts to hold normal political rallies were suppressed under the pretext of security concerns. Any talk of peaceful demonstration was given a subversive interpretation. The patience of the NADD supporters was tried to the maximum. The failure to grant bail to the NADD leadership after the 72 hours of detention deadline intensified the tense political atmosphere. However, the NADD leadership demonstrated extraordinary foresight in impressing on the supporters that the intention of NADD’s opponents to drive it into subversive activities had to be fought with maturity and power of organization and conviction in the creative ability of the people, to rally behind forces that are genuinely interested in their liberation and empowerment politically and economically. People waited in disbelief for the dust to settle so that they would know with clarity what stand to take. The majority of Gambians, irrespective of party affiliation, want peace. It was clear to the NADD leadership that any provocation or reaction by violent means by any party, would conflict with the fundamental interest of the Nation. It therefore called on its supporters to continue to display a decent and mature political conduct that would earn NADD the confidence and sympathy of the vast majority of the Gambian people and just humanity at large. It was made clear that the battle for change was a battle for the hearts and minds of the people and not a battle to show which party is more vicious in perpetrating violence against its opponents. Instead of leaping in the dark and shrinking in popularity, the arrest and subsequent court appearance enabled the supporters to inspire each other by their share numbers to give solidarity to the NADD leadership.
Today the dark days of the arrest and detention are behind us. Nation Reconciliation has been effected under the auspices of President Obasanjo. The Code of Conduct will be circulated to all NADD militants so that its content will be written in our hearts, minds and conscience, as well as to guide our practice. There is no doubt that even before the selection of a flag bearer the NADD leadership has been able to sweep every obstacle on its path in a peaceful and dignified way. This has earned NADD integrity nationally and internationally.
The way forward
The final selection of flag bearer has met NADD walking on its feet. What is necessary now is to exercise modesty, vigilance and conviction. The next phase of the struggle is more intense. It requires a strong, united and decisive leadership in order to earn the confidence of cross sections of the Gambian people to allow victory in 2006. We are conscious of the fact that collective leadership can be forged when each party avoids its interest from conflicting with national interest.
Fundamentally, NADD intends to take leadership of the country through partnership with all democratic and peace loving forces in the country. It intends to administer the country on the basis of partnership and collective leadership with representatives of parties and civil society organizations. We therefore, call on all Gambians who want a fresh start for the country to increase their financial, material, moral and practical support to NADD. The mystery surrounding the flag bearer is now over. The battle for the hearts and minds of the people can now be renewed with the extraordinary intensity it requires. Each person should transform himself or herself into an educator, mobiliser and organiser of the people and the battle for 2006 would be won by the people without any violence. It is the creative power of the people themselves which will be the foundation of the olive branch revolution that will bring NADD to the helm of national affairs. NADD will then seek to rectify the wrongs instead of victimizing opponents. An open society based on tolerance, the promotion of national unity, rule of law, freedom, respect for fundamental rights and freedom, justice, peace and prosperity would be built.
The NADD leadership intends to put its Technical Committee work with immediacy to have citizen input in the draft manifesto of NADD which will be circulated to expert who wish to enter into partnership with NADD. The manifesto will be launched in April. NADD will begin to form a shadow cabinet in May and inspire each branch to formulate alternative policies thereafter. NADD will govern on this basis with all those who are committed to Democracy and Development.
The government should acknowledge that with a debt burden of over 22 billion dalasis requiring payment of over 30 per cent of total revenue to service it; with 69 per cent of the population living in an abject poverty, with Gambians working abroad contributing 856 million dalasis to the Gambian economy as remittances, with travel income estimated at 2.2 billion in 2004, with a re-export trade estimated at 209 billion in 2004, this highly indebted poor country that NADD will inherit, cannot afford the politics of confrontation. It is only a peaceful atmosphere that can help us to gain the type of revenue that is required to meet the development needs of the country.
It is incontrovertible that the voice of the majority is a power that no leader can fail to respect and remain in office. This is the time to put an end to the dark pages of Gambian history such as the murder of Deyda Hydara, the shooting of Ousman Sillah, the arrest and detention of persons in maximum security cells to ensure that our peaceful homeland will never know the tremors and uncertainties of war and civil strife. NADD is willing to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, establishing the Africa Peer Review Mechanism so that even the opponents of NADD will be protected by adherence to the standards of best practice. NADD shall institute a democracy that will enable the Gambia to be at peace with its neighbours, and government to be in partnership with her people so as to build a unified Gambia of a prosperous and happy people thriving on the fruits of democracy and sustainable development.
Long live NADD Long live Democracy
Long live the rule of law
Long live the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms
Long live the Gambia
Long live African unity
Long live international solidarity
From the Executive Committee of NADD