PDOIS MP for Wuli East has been forced to react to a wild deceptive propaganda by opponents against his party on WhatsApp forums.
Honourable Touray was approached by a citizen journalist to shed light on several issues raised in different WhatsApp forums, including allegations of PDOIS forcing President Barrow to stepdown at the end of the Coalition government three year transitional agreement.
Touray`s detailed response contains interesting revelations of how suspicion and mistrust crunched into Coalition 2016, mustered by UDP`s leader Ousainou Darboe`s refusal to sign the Coalition Memorandum of Understanding, which was designed to strengthen their collaborative efforts of managing the transitional period.
He explained the historical background of the Coalition formulation, which he said PDOIS “has been in the forefront, since 2014.” Hon. Touray said they’ve toured the country in 2014 and 2015. And, has virtually reached out to all communities in the country, sensitised them on how to salvage the country from the clutches of Jammeh, through a Coalition.
According to Touray, PDOIS produced a blueprint on how to come together and bring down the Jammeh government in a grand coalition, at a time many people and parties were sceptical of the project. He said a particular party even went to the extent of pronouncing at their Congress that, they would not waste their precious time to join with any small party in the election.
He said it is already a historical fact, which is recorded in books that it was the PDOIS party that wrote a letter to all the other parties to meet and discuss the issue of a Coalition.
He said his party first wrote a letter to the UDP leader as the Chairman of the Gambia Opposition For Electoral Reform (GOFER), requesting for a meeting to discuss the issue of forming a grand coalition, which was not honoured. He said this was followed by a demonstration led by Solo Sandeng & Co in April 2016 that led to his death in custody.
On 14 September 2016, the PDOIS invited other parties for coalition talks at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. According to Touray, they had to literally “beg or cajole some people to accepting to attend the meeting at Kairaba.”
He said it was the PDOIS that settled all the hotel bills of the first meeting, which was meant for the aspiring Presidential candidates at the time. He added that parties should eventually settle them, which was not completely done. Hon. Touray said they believed that if the aspiring candidates agreed on something tangible, it would become easier for their parties and supporters to agree.
He said the UDP candidate Mr Barrow did not attend but sent an observer who sat on the fringes of the conference and did not say anything.
According to him, on the third scheduled meeting, it was agreed that even though there was no tangible agreement, it was better to call for an all opposition party meeting to deal with the issue head on. Touray explained that PDOIS wrote a letter to convene an all opposition party meeting including the aspiring candidates to meet.
The meetings took several days and came to conclusion on a convention selection method. Each party was asked to bring 10 delegates from each region of the 7 administrative areas that were engaged in secret ballot and elected the Presidential candidate for the Coalition 2016.
He said it was clear that the core issue at the conference was the time frame of the transition and the method of selection. He said once it was resolved that a convention would be held to select a candidate who would lead for three years, many delegates became convinced.
Hon. Touray said even though it was noticed that certain things were wrongly done in the selection process, PDOIS felt that the process should proceed so that Jammeh does not stay, since that was the wish of The Gambian people.
Hon. Touray did not mince his words in explaining the cancerous betrayal of the MOU. He said a MoU was drafted, discussed and eventually accepted by stakeholders, as well as a Manifesto for the Coalition 2016. “The Campaign strategy was also planned and accepted, leading to the proper campaign and election. And, the eventual defeat of Jammeh in the polls”, says Touray.
He explained that what followed was Jammeh’s rejection of the results, annulment and mourned for a return to the polls. This created an impasse, which led to his eviction from the country.
Mr Touray explained that Barrow has indeed resigned from the UDP. And, by law and the coalition agreement, he is no longer a member of the UDP.
Eventually, the incarcerated leaders of the UDP were freed from prison. For this, he said “thanks to the Coalition takeover.”
However, what surprised him was the ‘rejection’ of the MoU by the UDP leader, “who emphatically told the coalition stakeholders that he does not accept the MoU and therefore would not append his signature on the document and would not subscribe to it.”
Touray said: “This was what broke the camel’s back and raised a question as to whether the PDOIS should partake in the coalition cabinet or not.”
He revealed that two or more meetings were convened and the UDP leader did not show up but they were eventually reliably informed that his earlier position would not change.
“Since this is a very cumbersome arrangement comprising many stakeholders, PDOIS is of the opinion that without an MoU stating exactly how these stakeholders were going to work together in a harmonious way during the three years, it would not be wise and may be risky for the party’s future progress, to participate in such a messy enterprise.
“Many options were explored but it was finally agreed that since government comprised three arms, it will be much rewarding to the party to participate in the National Assembly, rather than adventuring into a government who’s agenda and method of work is undefined which may end up with endless squabbles and less progress for the country.”
Hon. Touray said the PDOIS does not have any problem with the Barrow government and they are not an opposition to it and what was arranged was just what Halifa calls ‘a gentlemen agreement’.
He said there is no need for anyone to go to court and wondered what the person would tell the court. According to him, one cannot tell the court to abrogate an agreement made outside the court, which is purely meant to bring about a ‘purposeful national unity’.
Touray said he is baffled because nothing is in the agreement that violates the constitution as stated by some people. He said there is nothing that stops the President when he really wants to resign. So he said all he needs to do, is to simply take a pen to resign. And, thank the coalition partners and assure that he would not support any candidate in the next election and the parties would also in turn thank him for his patriotism and selfless devotion to the national cause.
He said the constitution has already stipulated what should happen if a President resigns; that it is the Vice President who should take over and within three months or 90 days another election takes place.
He added if the president is sick or removed by the National Assembly, the same procedure takes place. He said if something like that happens to the Vice President, it is the Speaker of the National Assembly who takes over the Presidency. “So, everything has been taken care of by the Constitution and there is no provision forcing any elected president to govern for a full five year term if the need arises”, says Touray.
Touray asserted that there is nothing in the agreement that stated that a coalition party or its leader must be a member of the Coalition Cabinet.
Asked why he thinks the UDP leader threatens to resort to a court action to revert the agreement, he opined that for him it could only be for two reasons.
He said an election was coming and therefore by saying he was ready to go all the way to the Supreme court, is a pretentious act of sending a false message that he specifically loves the President more than those who did all the painstaking job, of not only putting hands on deck to unite, but was even much readier to defend him from those enemies. This was implying that those who were talking about the three-year agreement did not like the President to lead.
He explained the second reason could be to send a wrong message to the electorates that others are power hungry for reminding the president of the 3-year agreement, and therefore voting for them could be bad for Barrow.
“Remember this was a time when euphoria was high and the supposed triumphant support base of the coalition was presumably very high,” says Touray.
Hon. Touray said the PDOIS considered the Coalition as their baby and wants it to succeed. He added that his party would do all it’s best to make sure we go through the necessary reforms to usher into a durable democracy, so that the country would not have a repeat of the past.
He said: “The ball is actually in the President’s court to honour the agreement or not to honour it.” He however said if he does, they would stand up and gives him a standing ovation and thank him graciously which he said would forever be in the History Books of this country portraying him as a honourable leader.
But added, if he did not, he would not be judged much differently from Jammeh, who also made similar agreement with his fellow Coupists not only to eventually renege, but ended up purging them out, because of his desire for self-perpetuating rule.
Touray said they are not telling Barrow to step down because they want to become presidents, but because the agreement is the best thing for the country’s democratic future. He finally counselled that there is actually no basis to threaten court action because it’s so frivolous and meaningless.