By Kebba Jeffang
Nine political parties that are registered with the Independent Electoral Commission on Saturday, September 30th 2017, announced Mr. Halifa Sallah and Mr. Fabakry Tombong Jatta as unanimously selected to serve as Co-Chairpersons to steer the leadership affairs of the Inter-Party Committee, in the next twelve months.
Halifa was selected to represent the ruling Coalition member parties while the former Majority Leader in the previous National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, was selected to represent the opposition APRC and GDC.
The selection came after the parties have reviewed the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding spelling out the strategies for the way forward.
Briefing the media at the Election House in Kanifing, Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of the PDOIS, said during the review process, all members agreed to work out the modalities regarding the elections of the Co-Chairpersons of the committee.
He indicated that the election / selection process was completed on the 26th September by each group and the results were given to Robert Anthony Secka as the Chairperson during election / selection exercise.
“It was announced that both groups do their selection by seeking unanimity instead of voting, by encouraging the minority to accept the position of the majority where differences prevail,’’ Halifa said.
Halifa Sallah was selected to be the Co-Chairperson by the group comprising the Coalition and Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta was selected Co-Chairperson by the APRC / GDC group with the understanding that he could delegate his mandate to any other member of the APRC in the Committee. It was finally announced that he has delegated his responsibility to Sidi Njie.
Meanwhile, Halifa explained that the first task of the committee is to disseminate the MOU to all stakeholders including the executive, legislature, judiciary, media houses, security chiefs, the mayors, governors etc.; that they will also establish civic education teams comprising all parties, to carry out sensitization using the electronic media, press seminars and workshops in order to raise the awareness of party members on the content of the document.
“It goes without saying that the review process agenda would extend to the challenges of the next electoral cycle which would include demands for Diaspora enfranchisement as supported by all members of the Inter-Party Committee,” he indicated.
He said the MOU aims to build a peaceful and stable political environment underpinned by a transparent plural democratic political dispensation which is considered vital for liberty, sovereignty and the well-being of the people.
The National Assembly member for Serekunda added that the Inter-Party Committee will act as a complaint receiving body where any member party can file a complaint for redress.
Anthony Robert Secka, Commission member of the IEC, said the work of the Inter-Party will greatly enhance their work. He said the IEC sometimes has constraints and these are overcome through the collaboration of the Inter-Party Committee.
Sahou Sanyang, former executive member of the APRC party said he was part of the crafting of the MOU that is futuristic and resounding in vibration in the Sub-Region.
“It is a beacon of hope, a beacon of truism, a beacon of love for freedom, independence, respect for law, due process and upholding of fundamental human rights,” he said.
Omar A. Jallow, Secretary General of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as well as the Minister of Agriculture, hailed Halifa on behalf of the coalition member parties for his role since inception in 2006.
“He has volunteered his service, his energy and resources to make sure we arrive at this historic decision. Therefore, I will on behalf of parties present and all stakeholders, commend him and thank him,’’ Hon. O Jallow said.
The Agric. Minister continued: ‘‘I thank the IEC for the role they have played in making us achieve this because they have not only provided the Secretariat where this meeting is taking place, but supported us in the process. I think now it is the responsibility of everybody to make sure we live to the letter and spirit of this agreement,” he said.
The Inter-Party Committee came into being in 2006, following the intervention of the former Nigerian President, Dr. Olsegun Obasanjo, to resolve a political impasse that led to the arrest and detention of opposition leaders of the defunct National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD). The impasse also brought the intervention of the African Union, Commonwealth, ECOWAS, and the UN, in 2006.