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GDC Leader Applauds National Dialogue, Urges President Barrow to Keep it Apolitical

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Hon. Mama Kandeh, Party Leader Gambia Democratic Congress

By Landing Ceesay 

Hon. Mama Kandeh, the Leader of the opposition party, Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), expressed his support for the National Dialogue initiated by President Adama Barrow, however, he cautioned against its potential politicization, urging President Barrow to ensure it remains a platform for genuine discussion rather than a stage for accolades directed at him.

“We congratulate President Barrow for organizing the National Dialogue. We welcome the idea because this is something myself and GDC have been advocating since 2016. Politics is politics, but Gambians are not doing politics with monkeys, Gambians are not doing politics with cows, Gambians are doing politics within themselves and we are all Gambians. My message to President Barrow is that the National Dialogue should be a National Dialogue. 

“So that we can discuss the challenges our country is facing. We gathered there to discuss issues that will affect or are affecting Gambians and to find solutions to those problems. This is what I thought we were called for. But it is not a platform for praise singing. It is not a platform to attack anyone. It is not a platform to defend President Barrow. I thought President Barrow had a very good intentions toward the National Dialogue and should have a very thick skin to face Gambians, and dialogue with them about the challenges or issues that are affecting this country,” Hon. Kandeh told the media. Speaking at a press conference organized by the GDC, Hon. Kandeh commended the manner in which the National Dialogue was conducted on February 16, 2024, at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center. However, he criticized the inclusion of individuals who used the platform to sing praises and defend President Barrow.

“No one answered because there was no dinner at your home. No one answered because he or she wanted money from President Barrow. You called National Dialogue, for the Gambia. That’s why we all got up and answered to you. So if anything that has to do with the Gambia and Gambians, there should be no enmity and that is what we show to you. To go and answer is not by force, but there was no left behind. Then Gambia is what we want, that’s why. 

“But you cannot gather us there and bring people singing for you left, right, and center. If you say one, they get up and defend you. We will never be part of such a platform. Because that is not the reason we attended it. We all have that person who will defend and sing for us. But not on that platform. This is my message to President Barrow and let him know that we all appreciate the idea, and we all congratulate him. But let him make sure that no one spoils it for him,” Hon. Kandeh said. 

He reiterated that the purpose of the National Dialogue is to address national issues collectively, not to serve as a stage for political cheerleading. Hon. Kandeh underscored the importance of open dialogue and urged President Barrow to ensure that it remains a platform for constructive discussion, devoid of political bias.

“But if we talk about the problems Gambia is facing, two or three people will come and defend him. The platform is not for anyone to defend him. The platform is meant for discussions. The platform is not meant for griots to stand and sing for you. There are so many platforms they can stand and sing if they want to sing. This platform is not the platform to sing. President Barrow should know that there is no politician who is an enemy to him. The example is very clear, when he called everyone answered and no one answered because he or she wanted a position,” he said. Reflecting on past efforts to foster unity among political leaders, Hon. Kandeh recalled extending invitations to both former President Jammeh and President Barrow for a coffee meeting in 2016, aimed at demonstrating solidarity among political factions. However, neither responded to his invitation, highlighting the challenges of fostering unity among political leaders.

“I did that for Gambians to see that we are one people. Unfortunately, nobody responded to my call. But the whole idea was for our supporters not to see enmity between us, for them not to see arguments between us, and for them not to see tribalism among us. We all have our supporters, if we had sat and shown to our supporters that we are one people that message would have passed, and it will bring peace. 

“Certain things are happening in our political arena today, would not have happened today if we had that coffee. Since you called, and we all answered, then President Barrow should know that we all want the betterment of the Gambia. I thank all the opposition for attending the dialogue. We didn’t attend the dialogue because we wanted to go to State House. We attended it because we love our country. So he should not allow anyone to spoil this for him,” Hon. Kandeh said. 

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