Will Gambia's opposition continue to stick together?

2017-03-09 20:34
Adama Barrow (File: AFP)

Adama Barrow (File: AFP)

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Cape Town - West African think tank, the Open Society Initiative says African leaders have a lot to learn from what happened in The Gambia, adding that the continent should build strong democratic institutions. 

The Gambia was thrown into political chaos when long-time leader Yahya Jammeh refused to bow out after losing a December 1 poll.

He, however, reluctantly left office on January 22, following international pressure, thus, paving the way for Adama Barrow to take over as president.

In a telephone interview with News24, Open Society Initiative's political governance programme manager, Mathias Hounkpe said there was need for Africa regional bodies to build strong democratic institution to enforce the will of the people.

He said that following the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)'s  intervention in The Gambia, it was essential for other regional bodies to find solutions facing member states, and uplift democratic processes. 

"Ecowas was very instrumental in getting Jammeh to leave office. Therefore, this shows that if we can follow our own protocols and uphold rules of good governance Africa can go very far. Ecowas does have some sort of mechanism in place, but these also need to be enhanced," said Hounkpe. 

Meaningful impact 

He said that opposition parties were stronger when they were united in fighting those who were reluctant in allowing democratic processes.

"When opposition political actors come together, they can make a change. Without the political parties coming together in The Gambia, I do not think they could have been able to make a meaningful impact in getting Jammeh out.

"However, now it is very important for them to stick together in government to pass their final hurdle in building democratic institution after a long time of a one man show. 

"It remains important to see how long the united Gambian opposition parties are going to stick together.

"If the opposition coalition in the country sticks together I am sure president Barrow would deliver successfully on his promise, but, if they have problems, it would be difficult to predict how Barrow's government is going to function," said Hounkpe. 

Since effectively taking power late in January, Barrow has tried to uphold pledges to overhaul 'government institutions' by assembling  a team of allies in forming a government.

Read more on:    ecowas  |  adama barrow  |  yahya jammeh  |  gambia  |  west africa

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