Examination of President Barrow’s Coalition Regime

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Author: BY BAKARY B. SANNEH

Coalition governments are synonymous with internal feuds, clash of principles and interests. However, the maturity and leadership qualities of leaders are most tested during such disagreements. Unfortunately, while some have already failed I wish to extol those who refused to give to politics of blackmail, distortion, conjecture and character assassination.

It is my convinced opinion that the entire leadership of the Coalition all meant good for our country but approaches differ. In light of these divergent approaches, compromise and pragmatism become integral in order to stay united and resilient. The current feud and terse exchange of words both among the leadership and surrogates is really unfortunate; our strength lies in graduating into politics of inclusiveness and compromise.

In view of these unfortunate developments within the Coalition, I reason that the following problems need to be addressed or at least lessons learnt if we are to enjoy the change we all so desired.

(I) The refusal of PDOIS to take up cabinet appointments was seen as an insult and demeaning by the other coalition stakeholders especially, given that it was mutually agreed to take up such appointments upon victory. Although, this may be strongly grounded on the parties’ fundamental principles of governance, a compromise could have made a lot of difference in order to maintain the coalition spirit. It paints PDOIS as selfless, principled and pure at the expense of the other players who may have sacrificed some radical principles of their parties and what they stand for in the interest of a united coalition. Albeit, it may have been difficult for Hon. Halifa Sallah (a person of great wisdom and charisma) to serve in cabinet as he elucidated in his latest press conference, the likes of Sedia, Sam or Amie Sillah could have filled the gap. Consequently, some stakeholders concluded that the PDOIS does not share the common interest of the coalition government and is busy scrutinising and circumventing their decisions.

As special adviser to the President on Governance, wasn’t the Amendment Bills presented to him for advice before being tabled in Parliament? If no, then President Barrow has goofed seriously because “moving water cannot jump a hole” and therefore, such a gross disrespect to the office of the Special Adviser should seize immediately.

However, the question am still battling with is, if this was brought to Halifa’s notice before it was taken to Parliament why didn’t he advise accordingly or did he advise at the time but was ignored? If his advice was sought hitherto to sanctioning the Amendment in Parliament and its unconstitutionality was not highlighted then, raising the flag after it was done is disingenuous and at best, questionable; a far-fetched allegation I beg to excuse the Honorable Halifa from until proven otherwise.

(III) I gather from the press conference held by Halifa on the disagreement amongst Coalition partners about the approach to the National Assembly elections that out of eight, only two had reservations on the Independent approach. This means 6 stakeholders including PDOIS believe the best approach would be the Independent Candidates option; however, his subsequent press conference reveals that PDOIS decided to be neutral between the two approaches with only one party now maintaining the Independence Candidature option which to many appears inconsistent and divisive and I believe, should be remedied.

 

(IV) Although the UDP and co.’s proposal for a Tactical Alliance may have initially been seen as a deviation from the coalition approach, it seems it was largely reactionary to the points mentioned above. I for one felt it was better to maintain the coalition spirit by going independent if that is the majorities position and I am convinced most of the criticisms and condemnations were based on the same spirit. Again a compromise from the UDP and co could have quelled all that impasse.

(V) The politics of the slogan of biggest parties and tribal bigotry should be contained. A good politician is the one who endeavours to win the heart and love of all irrespective of differences. I am not in any way attributing the issue of tribal bigotry to the UDP leadership as I strongly believe they have lived above that but rather, some of their surrogates are found wanting sometimes. However, let me qualify that this issue is now more prevalent and deep amongst all our political parties that no one party can be made to own it. There is beauty and strength in our diversity.

(VI) On the issue of The 3-Year Transition period that Lawyer Darboe promised to challenge anyone in Court who tries to enforce it; right or wrong, this was a fundamental campaign promise of the 2016 Coalition, of course, with the requisite constitutional Amendment(s). In as much as this was a gentleman’s agreement, President Barrow agreed to it and the least I would expect from him is to honour his word and not see those who would like to religiously stick to the 3-Years Transition as foes.

Finally, our politicians especially, the Coalition stakeholders, should see each other as complementary partners in development and avoid profanities and derogatory remarks. Although some have undoubtedly sacrificed more than others, which we should also recognise, lets embrace each other and continue to fortify the Coalitions agenda with inclusiveness. I welcome constructive debates and exchange of ideas on these matters.

Author: BY BAKARY B. SANNEH

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