Gambia’s Vice President and Leader of the United Democratic Party Ousainou Darboe has used the UDP Congress, which kicks off in earnest today in Banjul to declare an all-out war against “persons and individuals” irrespective of the individual’s status in life and are bent on dividing his party. Mr. Darboe, who was apparently throwing shades at President Adama Barrow and his camp, who were conspicuously absent during Friday’s Congress, remarked that he is determined to take on anyone, who is bent on dividing the UDP for the sole purpose of the person’s own political expediency.
“I am not desperate to be the President of The Gambia, but any forces of whatever description; of whatever status in life, who attempts to divide the UDP, I will take you head on; I will fight you to prevent that. That is my mission. I will not preside over the disintegration of the United Democratic Party. I have been elected to preside over the unification of the United Democratic Party and to get more people to join the force of the United Democratic Party. Any attempt by any party to divide us, I will fight you,” Darboe told the UDP delegates, who are set to cast their vote on Sunday’s Congress.
Darboe’s statement, followed news reports about a potential power struggle within the United Democratic Party. President Adama Barrow, a former Executive Member of the UDP, who was sponsored by the party to lead a group of opposition parties to challenge dictator Jammeh in the 2016 elections, has begun consolidating himself in power. Besides the Youth Movement that was formed to consolidate Barrow’s political base, Barrow is courting the former supporters of dictator Jammeh’s APRC Party. He is said to be planning to form his own political party.
President Barrow did not attend the UDP Congress. He flew overnight to attend a conference in Egypt. His close aides, who often bragged about their support for the UDP, Dodou Sannoh and others also did not attend the Congress. State House staffers were also not seen at the Congress.
Mr. Barrow’s former Coalition partners, who got fired from his government were present at the UDP Congress. Visible in the gathering was the sacked Vice President and former Chairperson of the 2016 Coalition Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, the sacked Interior Minister and leader of The Gambia Moral Congress Party Mai Ahmed Fatty, and Omar Jallow, the interim leader of the People’s Progressive Party.
The UDP leader never minces his feelings about the current state of affairs befalling the UDP. He even tried to debunk claims that UDP 2016, who were in partnership with the other parties sent dictator Jammeh packing. Darboe disagrees.
“I want people to know that the only UDP we have here is the UDP of 1996. There is no UDP 2016. There is only one UDP; that is UDP 1996. There is no UDP 2016. It was because of UDP 1996, in concert with other political actors: Aja Fatoumatta Jallow, Honourable OJ, Majanko Samusa, Alhagie Mai Fatty, and the host of others; Hamat Bah; It is UDP 1996, that forged an alliance with them and booted out the dictatorship in 2016. So, there is no UDP 2016,” Darboe said.
“Anyone who denies that Ousainou Darboe is not the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) he or she must be out of his mind. I have told people who came to see me, publicly that I am not desperate to be President. I am not saying that I will become President of The Gambia by and force; I have never said that. But whoever wants to divide the UDP into two camps, I will wage a war against the person,” he posited.
The UDP leader also said he is not denying the fact that Adama Barrow is the President of The Gambia, but on the same vein, he said, he is also the leader of the UDP. He made it known to those bent on dividing the party for their own selfish reasons to brace up for a fight with him. Darboe said he will not sit idly to watch the disintegration of the UDP.
Mr. Darboe used the occasion to pay homage to the departed vanguard UDP officials and members, who died in the hands of dictator Jammeh’s decade long rule. He insists that the change that brought Adama Barrow to power was not the making of those promoting the agenda of UDP 2016.
“I have told you that UDP is a party of one people “Kang Kiling.” Since the formation of the party back in 1996, we have suffered many trials and tribulations. Back in 1996, Yusupha Cham, Wassa Janneh, Dembo Ara, Syngle Nyassi, Sarjo Kunjang Sanneh, Doou Taylor, were taken to the NIA and tortured by Jammeh’s agents. That was the day’s UDP’s unification was fortified. We will not allow anyone to derail and divide our party,” Darboe remark while paying special tribute to the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Solo Krumua, Lang Marong and others.
He also deplored the mistreatment meted out to the UDP supporters such as Ngoi Njie, Fatou Camara and Fatoumatta Jawara by Jammeh’s heartless security agents.
UDP National President Dembo By Force Bojang also spoke at the occasion. Mr. Bojang, is an adviser to President Barrow, took the UDP supporters to the cleaners. He said the only party supporters, who insults President Barrow, Ousainou and other political leaders in the country, are what he called ” the UDP Mandinka supporters.” He said one would hardly hears other ethnic groups in the country insulting party leaders, but in the case of the UDP, he says, the party’s Mandinka supporters are good at insulting their leaders.