By Shout-Africa Gambia Correspondent – Opposition leaders under the newly-formed United Front have vowed to “liberate” The Gambia come the forthcoming presidential election slated for 24th November 2011.
They say a new Gambia will be born where all will be equal before the law regardless of who one is.
The leaders, who have also vowed to rally behind the chosen candidate, National Reconciliation Party’s (NRP) Hamat Bah, were speaking last Thursday at the Laico Atlantic Hotel where hundreds of delegates and opposition supporters gathered to choose a candidate to lead the opposition United Front.
The convention, on the theme “Restoring national dignity and honour for a just and fair society”, was described by many as historic.
“This is a momentous occasion in the life of our dear country. This is unprecedented anywhere in the sub-region. This is the first time regional delegates are given the chance to elect their leader,” Sidia Jatta, of the opposition National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), who also chaired the election, said.
“We want a new country where we have freedom. We want a leader who is prepared to serve our supreme interest. We must drop the chains on our necks and legs. We need a new Gambia and, therefore, a new Gambian leader. We want to liberate this country, which will give birth to a new Gambia,” Jatta added.
According to him, as a United Front, they must take decisions together as they are in the process of creating a new Gambia.
“The world is listening, and this will surely be a model for other countries in the world to learn from us. New political space for the liberation of The Gambia is what is needed,” he said.
Lawyer Assan Martins, an Independent candidate, told the delegates that he stands for the principles of justice, democracy, and respect for human rights of all citizens in The Gambia.
“I believe that these are ideals that our nation was founded upon, and it is the duty of the current and successive generations to safeguard them at all times,” declared Martins, who lost to Hamat Bah in the vote for the candidacy.
According to him, elections are very important stages in any democracy, “as this is the process where political parties compete on policies and basic ideas in their manifestoes to contribute in the governance of our nation for the public good”.
“Political parties are not enemies, but should be regarded as opponents in the nation-building process. I am a great believer in the politics of solutions and institutional governance, because these are mechanisms that provide an effective and efficient public service,” he added.
Also speaking at the convention was Henry Gomez, leader of the opposition Gambia Party for Democracy and Progess, who described the day as memorable in the country’s political history.
He urged people to be objective in the interest of responsibility and performance towards the common good, and not to be subjected to personal ideologies or principles.
According to him, Gambians have long yearned for a change and, come 24th November, they will effect a change and liberate the country for the good of all citizens.
While calling for the revision and reformation of public and government institutions, Gomez said his topmost priority will be to reform institutions like the ministries of agriculture, health, education, judiciary/justice; security; communication/information; employment and industry.