By Louise Jobe
The leader of United Democratic Party (UDP) Ousainnou Daroe, said his party was built on a strong foundation.
Mr. Darboe made this and other remarks at a mass political rally in Banjuluding on Sunday 29th October 2017, organized by a group of women calling themselves UDP sisters.
Gambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP’s) Ousainou Darboe said Government cannot ban the APRC, but went on to say that he has an idea of how to render the party to disappear from the political landscape for good. Mr. Darboe told his supporters that if they want the APRC to be banned, they must vote massively for the UDP candidates in the upcoming Council and Mayoral elections scheduled for next April. “We will not ban the APRC. They will ban themselves. You can prove this by denying them votes in the coming council elections. If you do not want APRC and Jammeh’s ‘T’-shirts to be worn in your localities, deny their party votes in the coming council elections. That is the only way that the APRC can be banned or rendered dysfunctional,” Darboe told his followers. Mr. Darboe’s statement came in the wake of the “successful comeback” meeting held by the APRC on Saturday at the Buffer-Zone, attended by thousands of the party’s supporters and faithful across the country. Mr. Darboe’s speech centered more on the APRC, a party, which has ruled the Gambia for over twenty-two years. He took a swipe at the APRC saying it is a one-man party dominated by the self-imposed exiled Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh. Darboe however admitted that the UDP cannot make it as a party, if it fails to open its door to the APRC defectors. Hence, he urged his supporters to be more receptive to incoming members from the APRC, including the supporters of the other existing political parties in the country. “The APRC isone-man party. That’s why they had an interim leader. There was no Deputy leader, when Yahya Jammeh was leaving the country,” Darboe remarked in the Mandinka local dialect. Mr. Darboe thanked Alhagie Darboe of the UDP for coming up with the idea that the UDP should have Deputy Leaders prior to the time he was jailed. He said there is a proper leadership hierarchy at the UDP compared to Jammeh’s one-man party. Darboe said the UDP must tap for new members from parties such as the APRC; that the UDP should be an inclusive party than isolating others who want to join their politicalband wagon.
Mr. Darboe welcomed a group of “APRC defectors” to the UDP at the Busumbala meeting. He told them that they share the same membership rights as any other UDP supporter. UDP leader made reference to the defection of Lamin Waa Juwara to the APRC, to further prove a point that it is normal for people to change heart in politics. “Between the period of 1997 to 2005, who could have dreamt that Lamin Waa Juwara will ever leave the UDP? Who has ever thought that Juwara will work for Yahya Jammeh? There is no permanent interest or enemies in politics,” Darboe said.
At the rally, Mr. Darboe issued a warning to UDP members in the National Assembly. He told the gathering that his party’s National Assembly members risked losing their seats in future elections, if they fail to extend their National Assembly duties to promote the interest of the party in their respective constituencies. He therefore tasked them to work towards ending APRC existence in their constituencies. “To the UDP MPS, I thankyou for your services to the country, but there is more work to be done. You need to extend your engagements to your respective constituencies. Keep in mind that your role to promote the UDP, has become more urgent today. Failure of which, you stand the risk of losing your seats,” Darboe warned.
Mr. Darboe also defended President Adama Barrow’s record as a leader. He said those pointing accusing fingers against Mr. Barrow by painting him as someone corrupt or incompetent, do not know what they are talking about; that President Barrow is an upright man. Mr. Darboe called on Gambians both at home and abroad, to desist from using the social media to traffic messages that will incite violence in the country. He concluded that such messages are not good for the country.