Gambian president forms new party to seek re-election after expiry of transitional period

When the people of the Gambia got tired of the then-dictator, Yahya Jammeh who governed for 22 good years, the parties in the country decided to lay down their differences and form a coalition to remove him from power. Adama Barrow, who was then a lead member in the United Democratic Party was asked to step down from his party and he was chosen to lead the coalition under certain conditions.

The coalition members reached a consensus and signed an agreement that, the chosen leader at the time, will only govern for three years instead of the usual five years and step down for another person from the coalition to complete the remaining two years before the election proper is held. The stated time in the agreement is almost due and there is pressure from within and outside the coalition for Barrow to step down as agreed.

In a rather bizarre twist, the president hinted of an attempt to disregard the coalition agreement. In a New Year message, Barrow stated that, he cannot accord the coalition agreement preference over the national constitution because he swore by the Holy Quran to defend and act according to the provisions of the national constitution. One of the provisions is that presidential terms in the Gambia last for five years.

Constitutionally, he is right but this change of mind is an affront to the coalition agreement and a recipe for chaos. There have since been protests by pressure groups, especially members of the coalition who are demanding that, he honor his own promise and step down on January 19th.

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Yielding to the emerging pressure and discontent, Barrow made use of the next available, legal option to enable him seek re-election. He formed and formally registered a new political party called the National People’s Party with himself as the leader to enable him contest during the next coming election without depending on the supports of the coalition. It must be noted however that, this move by the president is not in any way a breach of the electoral laws or the constitution of the nation.

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