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GAMBIA: IS THE PROPOSED COALITION 2026 POSSIBLE?

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The Gambia, without doubt, is in an awful, increasingly frightening mess because of the administrative incompetence of President Barrow’s government.

President Barrow (L) is highly likely to contest as NPP Candidate against Lawyer Ousainou Darboe (R) of the main Opposition Party, UDP, in the 202Pollls

There is no prevarication that Barrow proved incompetent at running the country. His government is dogged by corruption allegations and ignoring warnings of the gig economy and freelance insecurity. But Barrow has his fingers in his ears, refusing to listen to Gambians.

With this, swathes of Gambians are turning their backs on President Barrow’s National People Party “NPP” government and scanning for a credible alternative to salvage the country from its sorry state.

The Gambia is, without doubt, reeling from alarming gaps in providing crucial public services and yawning unfairness in distributing wealth and opportunities.

Remember that President Barrow was ushered to lead the coalition of political parties in the 2016 presidential election against dictator Yahya Jammeh.

In a rare political manoeuvring, Gambians across the board came together and defeated a brutal dictator who yoked all kinds of human rights abuses on the necks of Gambians.

However, President Barrow flaunted the Coalition MOU soon after taking power and fell out with most coalition partners.

From there on, the hopes that the changes would usher in a better Gambia nose-dived into an abyss of failure. The institutions of dictatorship persist, and its enablers metamorphosed from green to grey to the detriment of the change agenda Gambians fought for.

Consequently, the Gambia is now trapped in a cycle of political, social, and financial turmoil. President Barrow seems incapable of acknowledging the full extent of our problems, let alone adequately responding to them.

Thus, if there is any consensus in our otherwise fractured, toxic national debate, it is that we cannot go on like this with President Barrow at the helm after the 2026 presidential election.

Hence, it seems President Barrow’s government is edging towards election defeat in 2026 if the status quo remains. And I have no reason to believe that things will change.

Nonetheless, not content with contemporary established political parties, ideas are meandering in the grapevine of the Gambian political landscape that coalition 2026 is in the making.

Some Gambian diaspora is discussing details following almost eight years of chaotic years of President Barrow-led government.

The prospect of another coalition in 2026 has risen to the top of the political agenda in the country and within the Gambian diaspora for a while now.

From an electoral point of view, it could be a desirable proposition, citing the experience of the 2016 coalition that ousted a dictatorship from the country. And, of course, the most recent political success of PASTEF in Senegal.

But does the country have the appetite for another coalition government after the disappointments of the 2016 coalition? Time will be the judge.

One should doubt whether the 2016 type of coalition will be possible again in 2026. I have taken the view that Coalition 2026 is highly improbable. But such doubts were forwarded back in 2016 and were wrong.

The reality, though, is that single-party government is the norm in the Gambia. We live in a country of deep political loyalties, no disintegrating and lighter political loyalties, and this should be taken into account.

Therefore, if the coalition is not a party lead, it may be challenging to merge some more extensive and more established political parties into a binding alliance. Thus, I can see the idea quickly running into political problems before it congealed.

In the same vein, will the country’s most prominent political party, the ‘ UDP’, be sucked into joining coalition 2026 without a compromise of being party lead?

Would such a coalition, if possible, end the United Democratic Party’s hope of securing access to the Marana Parade ‘State House’ in 2026?

UDP are not alone in dreaming of the return of the old norm – a single-party model of government. National Peoples Party “NPP” is gripped by the same fantasy.

Meanwhile, the ruling government – NPP – is dealing with internal fracture about whether President Barrow will stand for re-election in 2026. And if not, who will succeed him? The in-fighting and the factional positioning are evidence as a result.

In the same vein, it is no secret that elements within and outside UDP are clamouring from the rooftop for the party leader to give way to the budding generation of UDP leaders. This is causing friction within the party, even though the party hierarchy downplays the magnitude of division created.

Nevertheless, the wind of change from Senegal is blowing towards the Gambia. And changes in the status quo are inevitable. Gambians are no longer patient and want a better leader to deliver a better Gambia.

With this, they want options to shop around between credible candidates. Hence, it is the contention of the proponents of Coalition 2026 that something in the culture of the one-party model government has to change.

Like it or not, a readiness to compromise remains the most significant skill in modern politics. Thus, the political establishment and coalition of 2026 need to understand and get used to that phenomenon.

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Ebrima Scattred Janneh

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