Bar President Rachael Mendy used to work at Ousainou Darboe’s Bansang Chambers back in the 90s as a junior Counsel. Darboe was the leader of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) during Rachael’s private practice at the said law firm. It is worthy to note that Darboe is still the leader of the UDP. He is also Gambia’s Vice President as we file this report.
When Rachael Mendy spoke during the just held Legal Year in Banjul, she raised the issue of the Barrow Youth Movement that was named after President Adama Barrow. It is her contention that the Barrow Youth Movement for National Development is a recipe for disunity among Gambia’s Youth Population.
In other words, Rachael said, the Youth Movement should be scrapped. However, her statement doesn’t go down well with Barrow’s supporters, including folks interested in judicial independence. Many opined that she was treading into a domain outside the purview of the Bar.
Rachael’s statement was some form of a red meat for Darboe’s UDP base. Ousainou Darboe and his followers have always advocated for the disbanding of the BYM.
Rachael’s remarks followed Darboe’s pronouncement during UDP’s party Congress, in which he made it unequivocally clear that his party will not recognize any Youth Movement other than its own Youth Movement. Darboe was referring to the Barrow Youth Movement.
The BYM membership is mainly derived from the UDP base, and other youths in the country. Darboe felt that the emergence of the BYM, is a threat to the existence of his party. Hence, he started disassociating himself from the Movement.
It should be noted that Counsel Rachael Mendy, was merely amplifying a widely held view within Darboe’s own camp—that the Barrow Youth Movement is a misplaced priority and it should be disbanded.
The million-dollar question is: Was Rachael, the right person to make such a statement on behalf of The Gambian Bar?
Given her close ties to the leader of the UDP, and her past affiliation to Darboe’s Bansang Chambers, coupled with the nature of the topic at hand, ethical practice should dictate that she should refrain from meddling into political matters that will cast doubt into the independence of the legal body she purports to represent. It is an understatement to say that Rachael Mendy is a conflicted person. It goes without saying that she is a “salient” sympathizer of Ousainou Darboe’s UDP party.
The UDP as a political party, had its own political beef with Adama Barrow. The Bar Association, as a legal watchdog, should refused to be dragged into the feud.
It is our contention that Rachael Mendy stands to be accused of being a “witting or an unwitting political operative of the UDP” given her biased comments against the Barrow Youth Movement. She was fronting for the UDP when she made that remarks.
Conversely, Rachael as a private citizen, has all rights to speak against the BYM. But on the same token, it is disingenuous on her part to use the Bar as a platform to settle what is widely considered as political scores with Darboe’s onetime son Adama Barrow.
If Rachael Mendy is truly aggrieved about the formation of the BYM, nothing is stopping her and the Bar from filing a lawsuit in the courts to question its constitutionality. But trading political jab on a day that she was expected to address pertinent issues relating to rising corruption in government, abuse of office, nepotism, and executive power excesses amounts to abdication of duties on her part as Bar President.
It was hypocritical on the part of Rachael to call out the BYM, and yet her own colleague Ousainou Darboe, is openly engaged in active politics, while serving as Gambia’s Vice President. Almost every other weekend, Darboe would address a political rally.
Rachael will agree with us that there is a government code which governs public servants and Darboe is not an exception. Darboe too should be censored in the interest of fair play. He was not appointed to promote the agenda of his political party. We rest our case.