HALIFA SALLAH SPEAKS ON COALITION BUILDING

By Amie Sanneh

Halifa Sallah the Presidential Candidate for the People’s Democratic for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) has dwelled on theHalifa Sallah issue of coalition between the opposition in the forthcoming December 1 presidential election.

The PDOIS Presidential Candidate was speaking yesterday at a press conference held at the PDOIS bureau in Churchill’s Town. The purpose of the conference is for the PDOIS candidate to disclose his plans to the nation through the media.

Sallah promised that if elected president, he will directly appoint only one third of the Ministers in a 21 Member Cabinet, two thirds of the membership would be appointed based on the recommendations made by the other stakeholders, and in the case of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information, the appointment would be done in consultation with the Medical and Dental Association and the Gambia Press Union. The appointment of Vice President would be done based on the recommendation of coalition partners he said.

At the level of the National Assembly, he said elected president; he has agreed to endeavour to hold no more than one-quarter plus-one of the seats in the National Assembly, so that neither the executive nor the coalition partners would be able to amend the constitution without consultation and mutual agreement.

“I Halifa Sallah would not hold any office in PDOIS while serving as president. I will declare my assets before assuming the office of president and when handing over the office after serving for only one term,” he said.

He also expressed his preparedness to participate in a primary where each presidential candidate, being independent or a party nominee, would provide a list of five thousand nominators for his or her candidature, and other parties with candidates doing the same to enable a coalition to have a list of voters who will participate in electing one person from among the presidential candidates to be flag bearer of the coalition.

“I, Halifa Sallah, do hereby wish to express my readiness to travel throughout the country to promote my candidature, explain the policies I intend to implement, with all the candidates doing the same and enter into debate with any candidate   from April to 30 June 2016, so that the people would be able to compare the calibre of candidates to make an informed choice of a flag bearer.” He said he is willing to submit his candidature to a primary election to contest with other candidates of other parties or independent candidates, so that a flag bearer of a united front could be selected by 30 July 2016.

 On the establishment of a united front, or coalition, for the 2016 presidential election, PDOIS party leader said it has been approved by the party which approved his candidature. “I am hereby forwarding the programme to the party for submission to the Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform as a proposal for consideration by all member parties.” According to him, this is done in good faith in the public interest, and it is put in the public space to dismiss the misrepresentation that PDOIS is opposed to a coalition. “We hope other parties and independent personalities will put their proposals in the public space so that negotiation would begin to narrow down the differences,” he said.

When questioned about his chances of winning an election, he said: “I believe I have a personality which can be sold to win the confidence of people, I believe I have a determination where I can really stand and demystify the person who exists and to empower the people, so I believe that I am a material who can win an election but it depends on the challenge.”

On their chances of winning the December polls, Sallah noted that it is not for him to say that but rather for him to see. PDOIS Flag bearer added, “I am a servant wishing to serve and serving is not a right, it is a duty.” According to him, if he gives out himself and sees that nobody wants him, the Gambian people will definitely understand that he has done his duty to the best of his time. “For me, am not a national assembly material… this is not my life,  I have to, I cannot fool myself, I cannot see myself, so what am trying to say is that I have gone round the country and I have seen people feeling very angry with me for seeing certain things in certain situations.”

The PDOIS Presidential Candidate explains that he has seen the reactions and comments of the people describing his candidature, as a challenge for him and a challenge for the people. “We do not believe that, that is our plan to go and contest election when there is no electoral reform. As it stands now President Jammeh is not the issue for me, it is the Gambian people who constitute the issue, my duty is to win their hearts and minds.” Sallah believes, he has a message which can enable him to win the hearts and minds of people.

According to him, the issue is not about chances but a process. He said despite the fact that they have been here for over decades without winning the presidential elections, their task is to demystify the state authority which the people have mystified to a point that they become powerless. “So our existence here has been to chip that mystification stage by stage to the point of demystifying that state power and the person who controls that state power to a point that the people become empowered to know that power is in their hands, that is when you can have genuine democracy,” he remarked.

On the issue of the Islamic State, he said there is no Islamic State in the country describing it as an invention of the executive. The republic, according to him will be a Secular Republic. He added, “no pan-Africanist will declare a Christian state or an Islamic State.”

Sallah stated that the third Republic must usher in a transition from the absolutism of the monarchical presidency under which executive order reigns supreme over the constitution, regulations and basic fundamental rights. This he continues reduces sovereign citizens into subjects and ensures an accelerated power of motion to consolidate a people centred government whose every action is bound by the guards and fences of a just Constitution.

According to him, good practice ensures that the state becomes an instrument of protection of liberty, dignity and prosperity rather than an instrument of coercion. “In this way, the sovereign Gambian people would cease to be subjects and become the architects of our own destiny of justice, freedom, prosperity and happiness.”

The fact that for 51 years of self-rule, The Gambia has never gone through a peaceful transfer of state power from one party or person to another has led to the consolidation of the monarchical political culture of self-perpetuating rule, he remarked.

PDOIS Presidential Candidate described a political transition necessary it gives rise to a government that could be scrutinised, criticised, restrained and even impeached for misappropriation of public resources, misrule, bad governance, misconduct and misrepresentation.

Mr. Sidia Jatta the Party Chairman in his welcoming remarks said two weeks ago Mr. Sallah delivered his acceptance speech accepting his nomination for the party. According to him, the press conference is meant for their Presidential Candidate to express himself to the nation through the media about what he intends to do.

It could be recalled that three months ago PDOIS conducted a primary for them to choose their flag bearer for the December 2016 Presidential elections.