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Halifa Sallah Says Gambia Has Formal Democracy, Not Substantial

Halifa Sallah
The leader of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS)

Landing Ceesay 

The leader of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), Halifa Sallah has said that Gambians have a formal, not substantial democracy. 

“In our analysis, we have seen that the Gambian electorates are more hooked to a democratic system that we call the formal democracy. It does not matter what the delivery will be tomorrow. What matters is that the person can win elections. Therefore, what matters is to do everything that is possible under the sun to ensure that elections are won,” he said. 

Sallah called it patronage in the political system that has always been in the country that cannot be attributed to a single government.

“Whether to say that we are having a formal system of democracy, yes! That’s the type of system we have. Every Gambian knows that we are having formal democracy, not substantive democracy. Patronage is the political system we have, and we cannot attribute it to one government, it has always been. But it does not bar individuals here and there from winning elections. It does not bar coalitions here and there to change the destiny of nations when the time and circumstances made that to be possible,” Hon. Sallah said at a press conference. 

The veteran politician said the lesson is clear during the parliamentary elections that the Independent candidates filed fewer seats than the majority and the minority in the National Assembly and they have 12 seats in the National Assembly and 107 thousand in the popular votes.

The PDOIS leader said that made it clear that the electoral dynamics of The Gambia are ‘very’ different from being ‘partisan’ based. 

“Many candidates are becoming independent candidates and many parties are actually not filing in, basically the members of their parties based on their convictions on the programmes of the parties. But are also following the trends of filing who can win the constituency and then select those people to be their candidates that is becoming a trend,” Sallah told the Journalists. 

The experienced politician stated that many are now moving towards the direction of engaging people not on the basis of programme but on the basis of popularity in a particular constituency. 

He said the PDOIS does not believe in that kind of politics and would never be involved in such politics. 

“So in that regard, we as PDOIS did interrogate what the Gambia holds for you as the electorates and Gambia holds for those who want to be representatives of the country. As participants in the political process for three decades, PDOIS is convinced that its politics must be based on a contract. A contract with [the] nation and people. We are convinced that we must serve our country and a duty to serve our people,” he said. 

The veteran politician made these remarks on Sunday during a press conference at PDOIS headquarters in Serekunda.

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