By Kebba Jeffang
UDP will engage other Parties despite differences in Ideologies in order to come up with a coalition against the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) in the December presidential poll. This is what Aji Mariam B. Secka, the deputy secretary general of the United Democratic Party (UDP) said in a statement read on her behalf by Mr. Alagie Darboe, the deputy administrative secretary at their rally held in Brikama on Sunday, July 31, 2016.
Mr. Alagie Darboe first called for a minute’s silence in remembrance of Solo Sandeng whose death in custody was confirmed last week by the high court in Banjul.
It was stated that the statement was being delivered on behalf of the Secretary General and party leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
According to the statement, whilst the UDP was busy on the court cases to see that their supporters are free, the APRC government was also busy bullying and intimidating their supporters in different parts of the country so that they can abandon the UDP. It added that some people have also used that as an opportunity going around the country telling people that the UDP is dead; that they should abandon the UDP and “many other unfounded stories.” “This has created confusion across the country among our supporters we are told. There is no iota of truth in that,” the statement asserted.
It continued: “Notwithstanding the difficult situation the UDP is going through, our party leader and Secretary General, Alhagie Lawyer Ousainou Numukunda Darboe, has directed that we continue the grassroots mobilisation and recruitment of new members especially youths; knock from door to door, house to house, talk to everyone; energize every party member to make sure we move on to make this party the greatest once again.
“That the regional, district and village committees should from now on be organising weekly meetings in their respective localities to be briefing and updating local members about what is going on.
“That chairpersons, coordinators, Yai Kompins, from now on, you should be visible in rural localities and regularly updating the executive about what is going on in your areas.
“The party leader has further directed that we should all be determined and united under the single purpose of defeating tyranny in The Gambia. He warned that we should not allow ourselves to be distracted.”
The statement noted that UDP never lacks crowd at their meetings; but that over the years, these big crowds had not been transformed into real votes for the party.
It was emphasised that it is not because UDP does not have a support base, but that many of the young people either don’t register or refuse to go out and vote on polling day.
The statement dismissed the thinking that elections will never remove President Jammeh from power or that it is a waste of time to register and to vote.
Party supporters were reminded that currently the replacement of damaged or lost voters’ cards is in progress and all who are affected were urged to go out and replace their cards. “Any one of you who says you support the party but refuse to register then you have questioned your commitment to this party. It is the duty of every one of you to get registered and to effectively participate in the electoral process. Remember your vote is your voice,” the statement stressed.
It went on to say that since 1996 President Jammeh has been targeting the UDP to either deregister it or to render it ineffective because it is his biggest problem; that he saw the events of April 14 and 16 as opportunity to clamp down on the UDP.
The statement added that Solo Sandeng and his group were arrested on the 14 April and he died in state custody.
When “Lawyer Darboe together with his courageous executive, came out on the 16 of April to demand the state to produce Solo dead or alive,” they too were arrested. The state brought charges against them and refused them bail.
It is opined that all ethical standards for a free and fair trial were disregarded by not even allowing lawyers to have private confidential discussion with their clients. The statement also expressed dissatisfaction with the manner the security forces have been mishandling their supporters who were attending court hearings. It pointed the refusal of the authorities at Mile II to accept home cooked food to the remanded prisoners. “There are many other injustices that we can continue to talk about,” the statement asserted.
The UDP considers the trials and the subsequent verdicts “a farce and travesty of justice”.
It also described such development as a direct reflection of the worsening governance and human rights situation in The Gambia, adding that the party is currently talking to its lawyers and supporters will subsequently be informed of their next line of action.
The statement thanked all those who stood by the UDP in one way or the other during that difficult and trying times, especially The Gambians in Diaspora, the international community, the lawyers, the media, the gallant party members and militants, the families of the victims, especially the Darboe families, other political party leaders, to name but a few.
Emphasizing that the struggle continues, the statement urged all party members not to be discouraged or deterred.
“The battle against tyranny; the battle against human rights violations; the battle against self-perpetuation; the battle against dictatorship, surely we will win. We should never give up. Rather we should tighten our individual and collective belts to continue with the battle until we come out victorious by uprooting dictatorship from The Gambia,” she asserted.
She indicated that the party leader has further directed that they should not allow self-pity to overcome them, but should demonstrate that no one can dampen their morale.
The statement renews UDP’s commitment to the opposition parties’ proposal and demands for electoral and constitutional reform in The Gambia.
“In the past four elections, Yahya Jammeh has been able to return to power not because he is popular but because the electorate are intimidated in many ways, and on the other hand he made the people to believe that if they do not vote for him, ‘jins’ will vote for him, and many are also of the view that he will win as a result of the failure of opposition parties to come together.
“I must say that all of you must resist any form of intimidation. All of you must reject Yaya Jammeh right away. He has failed Gambians woefully,” she said.
She continued: “What we know in his regime is no meaningful development, poor human rights records, international isolation, rampant corruption, misuse of public funds, flamboyant life style, nepotism, enforced disappearance, poverty, lack of employment opportunities resulting to the mass exodus of our youths to Europe, etc.etc.
“Therefore, there is no other option for Gambians but alternative Government. UDP can offer you the best option. That is very possible should the vast majority that believe in change, reject Jammeh and APRC. Indeed you can.
“The people should not have the notion that without coalition, change is impossible though it is important. UDP firmly believes that political alliance is an added advantage and that is why it had been in alliance with other parties.
“I want to tell you that the UDP will continue to engage all the opposition parties to come together despite our differences in ideologies. The UDP’s position has all along been a party led coalition arrangement to defeat the APRC. We will work with all the parties on this to make sure that we reach a consensus on the matter.
“With only four months to the elections, this is the time to intensify the efforts to bring everyone under one roof to discuss the coalition option and the modalities for this. This is the demand of our time. It is the demand of The Gambian people.
“In accordance with the UDP constitution, the party goes to congress to elect its leader and executive members. Lawyer Ousainou Darboe was re-elected at Basse congress as the party Leader and Secretary General. I was elected as the first female deputy party leader and Deputy Secretary General. Aji Yamundow Jaye Yarboe was also elected as the first female deputy National President.
“The party central committee receives, considers and approves applications for presidential candidate. The party selection committee chaired by the party National President does the selection. The party will follow the due process to name its presidential candidate.
“Together we raise the golden yellow flag higher and higher for the new Gambia;
The Gambia that you and I and everyone else will live in peace and security;
The Gambia where arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, imprisonment and enforced disappearance will not be the order of the day;
The Gambia where all public servants can work freely under the dictates of the law and stipulated regulations;
The Gambia where justice, democracy and the rule of law will be enjoyed by all and sundry;
The Gambia that will be called as it used to be The Republic of The Gambia, not the so called Islamic Republic of The Gambia;
The Gambia where the Muslims and Christians alike will enjoy the religious freedom and tolerance;
The Gambia that will give you a president as the servant of the people, not a Mansa or king;
The Gambia that will give you a president that will respect and treat all ethnic groups as one people;
The Gambia that will give you a president, who will safeguard the respect the women deserves;
The Gambia that will give employment opportunities for the youths to combat the disastrous migration to Europe through back way;
The Gambia that will give us food security, good health facilities and services;
The Gambia that will give you quality and relevant education with academic freedom;
The Gambia that will promote press freedom to international standard;
The Gambia that will create conducive business environment to promote both local and foreign investments;
The Gambia that will be high on the world sporting map;
The Gambia that will be the smiling face of Africa and the world at large.
In conclusion the statement called for the release of Lawyer Darboe and other UDP members; the production of the body of Solo Sandeng; the conduct of an independent investigation on Solo Sandeng’s death; the release of Amadou Sanneh; production of Kanyiba Kanyi; credible electoral reforms now.
It ended up with the slogan:
Long Live the United Democratic Party
Long Live The Gambia
Down with dictatorship
DARBOE’S WIFE SPEAKS
Aja Maimuna Ndure Darboe, the wife of the party leader said her husband was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for exercising his right following the killing of his fellow executive member of UDP, Solo Sandeng. She said around 10pm of Friday night when her husband received information from a reliable source informing him about the killing and burial of Mr. Sandeng, he told her that if Solo has died why would he sit without acting? She explained that in the following morning, his other executive members joined him to conduct a peaceful demonstration to demand the release of Sandeng either death or alive but added that they were intercepted by security forces resulting to injuries on some people.
MR DEMBO BOJANG SPEAKS
Mrs Darboe Ndure advised militants to support any candidate elected to lead the presidential election. She assured that the party will continue to fight for the freedom of their convicted prisoners all the time.
Dembo Bojang, UDP National President described the Brikama meeting a success. He said Gambians should come together as one. He said it is important to note that Darboe is still the party leader and secretary general.