By Sainey M.K. Marenah, Shout-Africa.com Chief Correspondent In the Gambia – “Gambians need a new leader, and all what we are calling for is change. People are yearning for change because 17 years of APRC leadership is enough,” declared the leader of the opposition Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress, Henry Gomez.
He told this reporter, in an exclusive interview yesterday, that recent talks held by the opposition to form a united front ahead of the presidential election, were not a failure.
He added that hopes are still alive that the issue of a united opposition front will come to fruition, ahead of the scheduled Presidential Election on November 24.
In his view, the issue of alliance is bigger than the wishes of all of the opposition political leaders, because the interest of Gambians is at stake, something which should be put into consideration.
Gomez urged his fellow politicians to put aside their selfish interest, and work towards the betterment of all Gambians.
Citing the outcome of the recent election in Zambia, Gomez said that such a development can also happen in The Gambia, as Gambians are yearning for a change.
“We believe in democracy and, come 24 November, Gambians will have a new leader and new party. The APRC leadership has to leave after 17 years bearing the mantle,” he added.
Explaining the outcome of the recent consultations of opposition leaders, Henry Gomez said the talks held by the opposition, to form a united front ahead of the presidential election, were not a failure.
Gomez went on to dismiss remarks that the talks by the opposition leaders failed, describing such comments as baseless and lacking substance.
“Our discussions were frank; we did not quarrel, because we are all matured politicians; but let people know that there was no failure in the opposition talks.
“The problem is there are two ways that the opposition leaders are looking at. One is the issue of a convention, and the other is that of a party-led alliance,” Gomez continued.
Having been denied the chance to contest the 2006 elections, Gomez said he is ready to throw his weight behind any opposition candidate chosen by Gambians.
According to him, political party leaders and Gambians, in general, should allow a convention, which he said is the norm in other countries.
“So why should The Gambia be an exception to this convention. When we practice it in The Gambia, other countries will also learn from us, and this is the beauty of democracy,” he further stated.
“I am in for a convention, because we cannot have a party-led alliance; a party-led alliance in my own opinion is undemocratic. We as leaders are chosen by Gambians, and we should respect the decision of the people,” he said, adding that Gambians have to be given the opportunity to choose their leaders.
Gomez said he and Halifa Sallah of PDOIS agreed on the need to hold primaries for Gambians to choose their leaders, adding ,that is what Gambians need, at the moment, in order to pose a threat to the ruling APRC party and incumbent President Yahya Jammeh’s 17-year rule.