OPINION:Backing Barrow for re-election will be the end of the APRC

Written by Saul Sarr

Opinion cover

The leadership of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) has been flirting with an idea, perhaps out of ignorance, which could spell doom for their party.  

Nominal leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta, his deputy Ousman Rambo Jatta and some misguided militants who have been imbalanced by their dislike of UDP and its leader Ousainou Darboe to a point is pushing them into the dragon’s den.  

President Barrow’s Nation People’s Party (NPP) is an offshoot of the UDP. Its base is made of angry UDP folks who missed out during the wrangling for positions after the change of government in 2017. The Ounda Nyangs, Lamin Jattas, Dembo Bojangs etc. These are the folks they fought with for 20 years and if APRC thinks these folks have forgotten, then they’re a centimetre shy of being termed fools.  

OPINION 1

NPP operatives made APRC leadership believe that Ousainou Darboe is the problem but they (NPP) love them dearly. If that is the case, how come 16 months after Darboe’s sacking and APRC is yet to get back their seized assets. Since Darboe’s sacking, they are still not allowed to celebrate ‘July 22 Revolution.’  

Some months ago, Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou, (now resigned) said if former president Yahya Jammeh dares come home, he will be arrested and tried. This riled them up for months, and they gave President Barrow a pass for Baa’s utterances not knowing that was not Baa’s opinion but the position of Barrow’s government. Barrow was less than 10 yards away and he didn’t dispel it when he took to the podium.  

Barrow is toying with the APRC leadership. What he is telling them in private is the opposite of what his government is doing to get their supreme leader Jammeh caged. Information Minister Ebrima Sillah was recently quoted saying the Gambia government is cooperating with other countries regarding Jammeh. What are they cooperating?  

OPINION 2

NPP and APRC are incompatible. There are so many obstacles that will make the proposed marriage of convenience fail from the outset. Chiefly: Senegalese President Macky Sall and the European Union (EU).  

Many would argue that Macky is not our president, so he has no say in this domestic arrangement. On paper they are right but practically he is a co-president of the Gambia. He oversees Barrow’s security and dispatched Senegalese troops to the Fonis to tame residents. Do they think that Macky will allow Jammeh back in the country, in Kanilai, a stone throw from Senegal, living a normal life?  

How can they coalesce with someone whose godfather and chief security adviser, Macky Sall, hounded their supreme leader Jammeh out of the country? We all know that central to any agreement will be the return of Jammeh, his entitlements as a former president and immunity from prosecution.  

Backing Barrow for re-election and if he happens to win, he will repay APRC with one of the following;  

OPINION 3

1. If some of them are brain dead, be rest assured that Jammeh isn’t. He chose Equatorial Guinea as an exile destination for a reason. There, the long arms of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will not reach him. He will not leave his safe sanctuary and return home only to be humiliated and caged. He would want concrete assurances from Barrow which include immunity from civil or criminal litigation before jetting home. Barrow will refuse this, and he will be stuck in Equatorial Guinea for the foreseeable future. Or: 

1. Barrow will give Jammeh all the assurances he wanted. Upon his return and after six months of respite, The EU through the French President Macron will get in touch with Senegalese President Sall, who will in turn twist President Barrow’s arm to handover Jammeh to the ICC for prosecution. APRC folks can cry blood but he wouldn’t care because it’s his masters’ call whom he owed his presidency, because they installed him after defeating Jammeh in a controversial election. Any APRC Minister or senior government official who makes noise will be sacked.  

Going by the new draft constitution, he will be serving his second and last term, so wouldn’t need their support again. If the 1997 constitution is still our lawbook, then he will use money, as he did with UDP, to shrink their (APRC) base ahead of 2026 presidential election. With Jammeh still stuck in Equatorial Guinea or standing trial at the Hague, there will be chaos, accusations and counteraccusation within the green ranks. The party will be divided into three; Barrow will buy one third, one third will remain loyal and the other will get tired and give up. 

OPINION 4

Barrow has proven to be insincere and an unreliable ally. After assuming office, he gave all credit to the UDP for the change and said he would have won even without a coalition forgetting his winning margin was less than 3%. I can see him doing the same to APRC by saying he would’ve won without them. That he, in fact, did them a favour by reviving a “dead party”.  

To conclude, common supporters should keep an eye on Rambo and Fabakary Tombong Jatta. They will not be around to face the consequences of merging with NPP. Tombong has a known respiratory condition coupled with old age, I cannot see him in active politics for long. Rambo, on the other hand, has a personal battle with the UDP. Winning that bout by any means in 2021 is more important to him than APRC long term future. They both hold grudges, short-sighted, cannot see into the future, not beyond 2021. 

Saul Sarr

UK