GDC Unveils EX-MP Mamma Kandeh as Flag Bearer

By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) in its first ever press Mamma Kandeh
conference on the 25th May, officially unveiled Mr. Mamma Kandeh as
the party leader and flag bearer in the up-coming presidential
election in December.
The GDC is the newest political party adding to the already existing
seven registered political parties.Moderating the event, Mr. Essa Jallow, the party’s press secretary
disclosed that their party flag bearer is Mr. Mamma Kandeh who he said
originates from Sare Jerome, in the Jimara District, Upper River
Region. Highlighting his political history, Mr. Jallow said Kandeh was
the national assembly member for his constituency for at least two
terms under the ticket of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic
Re-orientation and Construction (APRC).
In his official statement, Mr. Mamma Kandeh, the flag bearer of GDC,
said his party is a social democratic party consisting of a community
of Gambians from all walks of life who have drawn the lessons of the
past 51 years of independence. He said the GDC believes in the
egalitarian treatment of all persons irrespective of their social,
cultural, educational, political, religious and economic differences
or origins within the context of a multi-party environment.
“The GDC believes in government of the people, by the people and for
the people. Our manifesto spells out the issues we wish to address
when we are elected into office but we do not want the Gambian people
to believe that we as a political party can singlehandedly solve all
the problems of the country within a short period of ten years. That
would be unrealistic because with a government of the people, by the
people and for the people solving current problems cannot happen
overnight,” said Kandeh.
He added: “However, we can and we do commit, within the period allowed
by the constitution, to putting political power into the hands of the
Gambian people so that all together we build the essential and
unshakeable foundations of a strong democracy with all the necessary
checks and balances that will give us the chance to succeed the
country, ensuring, a better life for our people and becoming a proud
member of the community of nations.”
As part of his plans, Mr. Kandeh expressed dissatisfaction with the
poor status of the country’s economy. He said after 51 years of
independence, it is sad that small Gambia is struggling to be
economically viable as a nation state. He said the country has
accumulated a budget deficit of alarming proportions while the
productive capacity of the population continues to go down. He
described the country as being at risk of an implosion because “self
interest” has become the driver of positions for those in
positions of authority.
Outlining the solutions for economic revival, the presidential hopeful
said there is need for restructuring that focuses on job creation
and job satisfaction for workers. He said there is need for an
economy that works for all the Gambians, that creates fair society and
that ensures opportunity for all irrespective of any form of
discrimination. He said they have a programme for a government that
stands for hard work, decency, tolerance, justice compassion and fair
play.
On human rights, he said, “We want to ensure that people’s fundamental
rights are respected not only in theory as prescribed by the
Constitution but also in practice in every life. No public servant
should carry out orders contrary to the rule of law or take the law into
their hands or consider themselves above the law. Respect for human rights
include freedom to enjoy all the rights guaranteed by our constitution
and international law especially freedom of speech, association and
religious practice.”
Talking on Sene-Gambia relations, Mr. Kandeh stated that anything that
causes disunity between the two should be avoided as they share a lot
in common.
He said his party expects to put in place a substantive women’s
empowerment policy with the ultimate goal of attaining a 50%
representation of women in all public appointments and at the party’s
conferences and congresses.
“It is our intention to create a special fund to support the
participation of women in all national and district level elections as
well as take measures to increase the number of women presidential
appointees,” he said.
“Our main focus when elected will be the economy and youth. Our youth
are the future. We need to educate them properly and provide the
enabling environment that will allow them to create their own
opportunities and occupations,” said Kandeh.
The GDC flag bearer further stated that education is at the heart of a
meaningful development of any people. He said his party is committed
to quality education for all, ensuring affordable access to all levels
of education and training for national human capital formation.
Mr. Kandeh pointed out that his party will also be committed to
quality healthcare delivery and harmonized social protection and
mainstreaming of national development. He assured an independent
judiciary when they come to power as well as proper pension schemes
for workers.
Responding to the question concerning his plan for a term limit,
Kandeh said his party is in support of a term limit in the Gambia once
elected.
However, he said “the duration of a term depends on Gambians. It is
not for me to decide how many years I want to have per term. If
Gambians decide for it to be two years it is going to be two years, if
they decide five years it is going to be five years but it is not for
me as an individual to decide that but we will introduce term limit.
In fact I have been seeking for term limit since 2005.”
The GDC leader while reacting to the call for an opposition coalition
said, “our hands are open and we are ready to work with every Gambian
for the betterment of this country.”
On electoral reform, he responded, “I am not aware of any
recommendation made by the opposition to the IEC because then the GDC
doesn’t exist. And when these recommendations were made I was not
invited. What I know is that there should be a level playing field for
all political parties but I don’t know exactly what those
recommendations are.”
“I am putting up this party for the Gambians and not that I am angry,” he said.
Commenting on the current political crisis which involved the senior
members of the UDP, Kandeh said “I on behalf of the GDC, absolutely
condemn any form of beating or torture if it happened. If UDP violated
the Constitution the court has to settle that not to whip or torture
anybody. If that happens, we are totally against that.”
He further responded that agriculture formed a key component of his
manifesto despite leaving it out of his statement. He said he is ready
to improve farming condition from the beginning of the season to the
end including the purchasing of produces which includes groundnut.