Gambia’s former Vice President and Leader of the opposition United Democratic Party Ousainou Darboe has started crying foul ahead of the December 2021 Presidential election by accusing the Barrow government of voter rigging. “Last week I heard a Minister saying that there is pressure on land in The Gambia and that pressure has resulted in Gambians migrating to Senegal I know that they are preparing to register, or they want to register non Gambians resident in Senegal on the pretext that these are Gambians, who had left The Gambia because there is pressure on land in this country and that is absolutely rubbish, it is absolutely false, it is unfounded. There is no pressure on the land in The Gambia, that would warrant the people to go and migrate and live in Senegal. Occasionally, herdsmen take their cattle across the border for gracing, but that is done during periods. It is periodic and they do not completely migrate, they just go for couple of months and at the end of the gracing period they come back to The Gambia,” Darboe told one Josephine Mahachie, a non-Gambian Facebooker in an interview.
The UDP leader did not mention the Minister’s name, who he said, has been claiming that there is land pressure in The Gambia, which resulted to citizens resettling to neighboring Senegal. Darboe has dismissed the Minister’s claim. He said the Minister in question has been campaigning against cross border registration of voters during Jammeh’s government. He is referring to Tourism Minister Hamat Bah. Bah is the leader of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP).
“I believe that it is a ploy to rig the election, it is a ploy to start registering the people who are living in the border on the pretext that these are Gambians, who have migrated and I want to say that this particular Minister, was one person, who has been advocating, condemning the registration of non-Gambians, who lived in the border villages. But we will have our people at the registration centers and we not going to allow anybody who come from Senegal register in this country on the pretext that you had gone to Senegal because there is no land in this country, that is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it,” Darboe posited.
Darboe has accused President Barrow of abusing the incumbency. Barrow, he went on, is employing the playbook of dictator Jammeh to consolidate himself in power. He reminded Barrow that his late father never left him with riches that he (Barrow) could use to bring developmental projects to impoverish Gambians. He says Barrow has been behaving as if the projects he has been commissioning came from his pocket.
Resuming his vote rigging allegations against the Barrow government Darboe, has also cautioned the Immigration Department to refuse to be used by the government to steal the upcoming elections.
“We are also concerned with the Immigration Department on the issue of the National Identity Cards. I want to confirm something, there is a border village called Fatoto, far away that a center has been opened for the issuance of National Identity Cards and I do not know why a place like Gunjur, very populous, why we don’t have a National Identity Card issuing center, my home town in Bansang, why they do not have a National identity card issuing center, and those are in the hinterland. This particular village actually is on border with Senegal, Fatoto, and we are watching. We are also watching the fast tracking of Naturalization of some foreigners,” Darboe remarked.
Darboe has also queried President Barrow’s one month meet the farmers’ tour. He said such a tour is a waste of government resources.
“The President is leaving for a thirty-day tour of the country. It has never happened in the history of this country. The constitution provides that the President has to go out, meet The Gambian people, meet the community at least once a year to see for himself the impact of the policies on the communities and what are needed in these communities. Gambia, the President cannot go for 30 days, that is a campaign being funded out of the coffers of the government of The Gambia. He has just returned from Kiang. This is an extension of the 2021 campaigning. Thirty days tour that is going to cause millions and millions of dalasis. It is a wasteful expenditure. It is unacceptable,” Darboe said.
Darboe has also accused Barrow of trying to hijack his UDP party. He says his fallout with Barrow stemmed from Barrow’s dodgy and dishonest politics of undermining the UDP.
Darboe has warned Barrow to start packing. He said come 2021, Gambians would vote Barrow out of office.