By Nelson Manneh
The Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) party, gathered in the Village of Bwiam, in the Foni Kansala District of the West Coast Region of the Gambia over the weekend, to hold their 6th National Congress.
Members of the party came in large numbers as well as invited members of other political parties, to witness the occasion. Leaders of other Political parties like Mamma Kandeh, Hendry Gomez, Kebba K Barrow of UDP and Majanko Samusa of NCP, were seen among the delegates of the APRC. The 6th congress of the APRC party marked one of the biggest congress since the APRC party loss power in the December 2016 polls.
Interim Party Leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said Leadership is an awesome responsibility and must therefore start by thanking the party founder and leader, former president Yahya Jammeh. He described Jammeh as a man who for twenty two years, bore the burden of leadership of the country and the party, and also made The Gambia stronger, developed, and more prosperous than it is today.
“We the people of this great and noble party will endeavor to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for our common defense, promote the general welfare and blessing of our people, ensure sustainable development that will meet the needs of the people without compromising the ability of future generations,” he said.
Jatta said never has the country faced challenges of the magnitude it faces today. “We asked ourselves how best we can draw from the lessons to make our people become self-reliant and patriotic. This is why we call for the spirit of ingenuity and citizenship participation, to achieve a free, democratic, just and responsible society,” he stressed.
Jatta said the December 1, 2016 presidential polls brought dramatic change not only in the political history of the Gambia, but more so with their party, the APRC.
From 1993 – 1994, Jatta said only 34% of teachers in the Education system, were Gambians; that under Jammeh’s leadership, in 2014 – 2015 it rose to 77%. Jatta reflected on what the immense development projects his party has done for the country, particularly for the department of Education, Health, Agriculture, Energy, just to name a few.
On the coalition of parties, Jatta said a joint declaration was negotiated with the new Government, ECOWAS, AU, UN and representatives of President Jammeh, and call on all parties in particular the Government of Adama Barrow, to honour and respect this MOU. He called on Government to unconditionally return and to unfreeze all assets belonging to the former president. “We call on the coalition Government of Adama Barrow to return and unfreeze all APRC assets and bank accounts, in the spirit of nation healing and recociliation,” he said.
“The closure of our political bureau, the freezing of the accounts and seizure of APRC vehicles, was done instantaneously,” he said; that the rampant arrests and detention of their members has become the norm, with the continuous and calculated attempts to torment and humiliate their party members.
Musa Amul Nyassi, the APRC party’s spokesperson and the National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala Constituency, in his introductory remarks gave a brief history of how a young Lieutenant and the founder of the APRC party, overthrew the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in 1994, to become the president of the country for 22 years.
Yankuba Colley, the party’s Youth Mobilizer and the former Mayor of KMC, said the advice they get from the former President is for party supporters to stay calm and exercise the good attitude they are known for. “APRC as a party, deserves a tap on the back, because all the infrastructural development in the country, came during the existence of the previous regime,” he said. He urged party militants to refrain from all forms of violence.
Borry IFC Colley, a representative of the APRC Chapter in the United States of America, said the APRC is the first and the largest political party known to them in the diaspora. “APRC still stands as the strongest political party in the diaspora. We will continue to render our support and loyalty to the party,” he said. Colley reiterated that the support they were rendering to the party when the former president was around, is the same support they will continue to give to the party. “We will continue to raise funds in other to support the agenda of this party,” he said.