OVERSTATEMENT” states Halifa Sallah of PDOIS

17th March 2015
The information you gathered from the Press Release issued by an Organisation called CORDEG, which had restricted circulation in theOnline papers and PDOIS’ response, has not captured the letter and
spirit of the meeting of the Opposition aimed at formulating proposals
for electoral reform. Electoral reform is in the interest of all
political parties and the public at large since the aim is to hold
free, fair and genuine elections in the Gambia which are deemed
credible by all observers. Hence no opposition party could withhold
signature to a document which is prepared in common by all to promote
electoral reform.
In this vein, the concluding remarks purportedly made by an opposition
insider in your article that if Halifa and  PDOIS continue to hold
out the other opposition parties would continue the negotiation and
possibly form a coalition is without foundation and amounts to a mere
exercise in fiction writing.  PDOIS is in fact playing an instrumental
role in the negotiation for electoral reform and no one who
understands how those proposals are being prepared would imply that
PDOIS is holding out or could be sidelined. The contradiction between
the participants is about confidentiality and not about content of the
reform proposals.  Needless to say , the discussions are characterised
by maturity and mutual respect as befit those who aim to lead a
nation. It is also important to point out that the negotiation is
about electoral reform and not about forming a coalition. Hence there
is no room for controversy or failure in reaching an agreement.
We therefore wonder why the so-called opposition insider decided to
invent that PDOIS is posing obstacles to reaching an agreement on
proposals for electoral reform  when PDOIS leaders are among those who
displayed the highest level of devotion and are among those who are
central in the preparation  of the document .
It is also curious that the so-called insider is talking about
coalition. At the moment there is no discussion about a coalition
because the time for that has not arrived.
Organised political parties do not form coalitions by word of mouth.
All agreements between political parties must be put in writing and
are signed by authorised  signatories. Even the setting up of an
interparty committee was premised on a memorandum of understanding
signed by all parties.
Hence, at this moment what is expected of credible opposition parties
is to hold party congress and formulate policies on when alliances
would be necessary and which form of alliances would be acceptable to
each party.
PDOIS is the only party which has formulated proposals on  how a
United Front could be built which is to be submitted to a congress so
that it could form part of the PDOIS Manifesto for the 2016 -2018
electoral cycle.
We have already proposed in Agenda 2016 that all parties should
pursue electoral reform so that the second round of voting would be
restored.In order to ensure that the incumbent is deprived of more
than 50 percent majority, we propose that all parties should go on the
ground to extend their political influence so that they could share
among themselves more than 50 percent of the votes on the ground.
In this way, the opposition candidate who would have had the largest
number of votes to go for the second round would get the support of
all the other opposition parties. This is PDOIS’ first proposal.
Secondly, we have left room for the possibility of not having the
electoral reform desired. In that case the whole world would be
convinced that  the incumbent is afraid to submit his mandate to the
rigors of genuine elections. In that case , PDOIS proposes for the
opposition to meet and select one credible candidate  to run a
transitional government if elected with the support of all.
To ensure that a credible candidate is selected PDOIS proposes that
the political parties should select their candidates and expose them
to the electorate and when it becomes necessary to form a united front
the party candidates as well as  the Independent candidates could join
a caravan  to tour the country before any negotiation so that the
public appeal of each candidate could be assessed.
We hope the opposition insider would now come in the open to state the
proposals his or her party has for building a coalition. If he/she
fails to do so the general public should classify him among those
people who spread rumours of the formation of a coalition to justify
political inactivity and always cast an accusing finger at some
scapegoat when they are failing in their schemes to mislead public
To conclude we hope the general public would form opinions on
political Parties and personalities based on their policies and
actions and not on the allegations made by those who wish to cover
unpleasant facts with distortions to try to isolate those who do not
fit in their scheme of things.
Halifa Sallah
In its edition of Tuesday 17 March 2015 The Standard published the
following story:

The ongoing talks among six opposition political parties in The
Gambia, known as the Group of Six, have suffered a setback, after two
months of closed-door negotiations.
The opposition PPP, UDP, PDOIS, GMC, GPDP, and NRP had agreed to meet
on March 7 to schedule to date for the signing of the document that
entails their electoral reform proposal, which they intend to push
forward ahead of the 2016 elections.
However, PDOIS party had refused to reach agreement, pending
clarification from PPP and UDP leaders, who had purportedly had a
separate but similar arrangement with an abroad-based Gambian civil
society organisation, Committee for Restoration of Democracy in The
Gambia, CORDEG.
“We have tried to reach Mr Darboe [UDP leader] by phone to request for
postponement of the meeting scheduled for Saturday March 7, until we
get clarity on statements issued in CORDEG’s press release,” Halifa
confirmed writing to other parties in a reaction published by online
newspapers last Wednesday.
CORDEG, in its press release, said the group had on February 23,
‘brainstormed’ and ‘agreed’ with representatives of PPP, UDP and PDOIS
on need for electoral reforms and a united opposition front.
However, PDIOS denies participating in the meeting, clarifying that
the party’s alleged representative, Malick Kah, of their chapter in
Europe, ‘had no mandate to represent PDOIS.’
Halifa added: “…if the two opposition party leaders had indeed
entered into a venture with CORDEG to jointly design a comprehensive
advocacy strategy to address a dead lock on electoral reform as
mentioned in the release, then their act would constitute a breach of
In a text message sent to Halifa following his request for
postponement, Mr Ousainou Darboe, the UDP leader cautioned Halifa
against going public with information on the negotiation.
“I request you not mention how far we have gone with the negotiations
on the electoral reform. Any statement on this should be made by all
parties that have been attending the meetings and not by PDOIS alone
whatever its views may be on the meeting,” Halifa leaked in his
reaction published on Maafanta.
And, in response to Darboe’s request, Halifa lamented the failure of
the PPP and UDP leaders to clarify ‘the wrong notion given to the
public by CORDEG’.
“In that regard,” Halifa argued, “we will not hesitate to tell the
whole world that a comprehensive programmatic document on electoral
and constitutional reform has been prepared and is ready for
signature. At least, we can say this much and not go into the details.
This is the first point. Secondly, we have decided to put our advocacy
strategy in the public domain to distance ourselves from the agreement
of the two leaders with CORDEG.”
Meanwhile, opposition leaders are still tight-lipped over the issue
and efforts made by this paper to have comments from them on the issue
were unsuccessful. However, an opposition insider told The Standard
that if Halifa and his PDOIS continue to hold out, the other parties
would continue the negotiation and possibly form a coalition.