Anticipation Mounts as Coalition Stakeholders Hold Talks
The Coalition 2016 leaders and stakeholders are holding a closed-door meeting at Kairaba Beach Hotel to assess the grand opposition coalition that brought President Adama Barrow to power almost three years ago.
The meeting comes amidst political bickering among the coalition stakeholders mainly over the content of its agreements in the run up to the 2016 election.
The meeting is spearheaded by Fatoumatta Tambajang, a former Vice President and founding member of the coalition. “The Coalition has never been broken. The Coalition has been meeting since couple of months after the elections. We have been meeting internally with the stakeholders periodically to discuss issues and matters of the state in terms of reform programs,” she told The Chronicle shortly before the commencement of the meeting.
Among the key issues expected to be discussed by the stakeholders is the question of whether President Barrow should step down at the end of three years or should go for a five-year term. According to Madam Tambajang, “the issue of three or five years is also going to be discussed here and so many elements will be considered and afterwards, we will send the communiqué to the president which will entail the conclusion on issues at stake.”
However, she said the three-year agreement was not written on stone, adding that the interest of Gambians will determine whether Barrow should rule for three or five years.
In an interview with Dakar-based West Africa Democracy Radio in the Senegalese capital two weeks ago, Tambajang hinted that three years might not be enough for the president to implement his projects and programmes.
Musa Jeng, President Barrow’s Youth Advisor said the meeting is a sign that the coalition is intact. “All we expect to do today is to put our minds together and see the way forward for a better Gambia,” he said.
Muhammed Magassy, an independent lawmaker and a founding member of the coalition said the 2016 coalition was formed for the purpose of regime change, but admitted that “what comes after the change of government was not well planned.”
“We see the way things are going. This is why we come together to sit down and review what we have agreed on. It’s to assess whether we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve when we formed the coalition. We have to assess so that we can come up with a decision that will suit the people of The Gambia.”
Veteran politician and former leader of the Peoples Progressive Party, O.J. Jallow told The Chronicle that the idea behind the meeting “is to revive the coalition again and then try to work on the principles and programmes of what we agreed on before.”
On the contentious issue of whether President Barrow should go for a three or five-year term, O.J. maintained his position that the president should step down after three years. He however said he was opened to further discussion based on the outcome of the meeting.
“We said three years but now if the coalition decides on something else we will all discuss it. We’ll look at the pros and cons and then when we arrive at an agreement, we’ll make pronouncement.”
Meanwhile, PDOIS has not been represented at the talks. An insider last night told The Chronicle that the party did not receive any official invitation from the organizers of the meeting and would therefore not attend.