The Elections Amendment Act 2015 has not prevented the number of opposition parties increasing to eight. Hence currently there are nine registered political parties in the Gambia. This is what the Gambian Constitution provides. Every Gambian has a right to join or not to join political parties and no law should restrict the number of political parties that could be formed in the Gambia. No law could establish a one party state.
There are some undemocratic Gambians who are opposed to the existence of many parties. Some feel that this would weaken the camp of the opposition. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Competition between parties makes them to be more vibrant. There are over 200 parties in Senegal. The form of alliance they create still led to the victory for the opposition presidential candidate. What is important is the maturity of the electorate. Once the electorate becomes mature, they would cast their vote on the basis of informed choice.
Hence the real challenge is to raise the awareness of the Gambian people so that no one would be able to induce or intimidate them. Once this is achieved, the number of parties that exist would not prevent the undiluted choice of the people from emerging.
What the Gambian state needs to do now is to stop all the criminal proceedings against the UDP leadership and their supporters and leave them to go and prepare themselves for political combat at the ballot box in 2016 either as a party or part of an alliance. This is the way forward.