By Fatoumatta K. Jallow & Kebba Jeffang
The talks among the opposition presidential candidates and parties, with the objective of identifying a single candidate for the 1 December 2016 presidential election, held yesterday, Monday, 26th September, at Kairaba Hotel have been rescheduled for Wednesday next week so as to get all the six presidential candidates present.
In yesterday’s meeting, being the second time which was also held behind closed doors, three of the six presidential candidates were present namely Dr. Lamin Bolonding Bojang of the National Convention Party (NCP), Dr. Isatou Touray Independent and Mr. Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and SOCIALISM (PDOIS).
The other three i.e. Mr. Adama Barrow of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Hon. Hamat Bah of the National Reconciliation Party (NCP) and Hon. Mamma Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Party (GDC) did not attend but were represented by Mr. Alagi Darboe, UDP Administrative Secretary, Mr. Musa Sonko, deputy party leader NRP, and Mr. Yusupha Jaiteh, deputy party leader GDC.
However, the NRP Participant and Observer as well as the GPDP Observer came late.
The opposition parties that sent observers were, in alphabetical order, GDC, GPDP, NRP, PDOIS, PPP and the Independent.
Emerging out of the conference room after two hours of discussion, the waiting journalists asked Mr. Halifa Sallah to shed light on the outcome of their close door meeting. He disclosed that they could not proceed and that the meeting is rescheduled for Wednesday, 5 October, as some of the presidential candidates were not present. He said the meeting is rescheduled with the demand for all presidential candidates to attend.
“Twelve days ago when we met we’ve made progress and agreed to reconvene to talk on the means and method of identifying an alliance candidate. Unfortunately some of the presidential candidates did not come and because of this, we could not proceed and left with no choice but to reschedule it to Wednesday, 5th October, with the demand for all the candidates to attend,” said Mr. Sallah.
Mr. Sallah said this meeting was a conference of presidential candidates meant for the six opposition candidates, including the independent, who are supposed to present and discuss their respective positions regarding coalition building for the selection of one opposition flag bearer. He said the consensus from this structured meeting will then be presented to the broader and expanded grouping of all the opposition parties, including the independent, which is called the Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform (GOFER) for finalisation and adoption. He said the candidates and the representatives that were present at yesterday’s meeting have all agreed for this conference of presidential candidates to be held on Wednesday, 5 October, and for the GOFER meeting to take place on Friday, 7 October.
Dr. Isatou Touray, the Independent presidential candidate, however, asked these reporters to meet her in her office.
However, Foroyaa will be talking to all the presidential candidates again for each of them to share with the public what their position is regarding the present talks and their expectations as to whether an opposition coalition around one candidate will be finally achieved.