There is growing fear within the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) over the possibility of their leader’s candidacy to be challenged in upcoming Presidential nominations, amid claims that Ousainou Darboe’s past criminal conviction is likely going to disqualify him from running on a UDP ticket, sources have intimated. “We are on a catch 22nd situation. Even Mr. Darboe himself is increasingly worried. Anyone can challenge his candidacy. The plan B is to install Talib Bensouda to replace him, in the event he is disqualified,” said a source.
Mr. Darboe has last year told the local press that only three things can prevent him from running in the December 4th Presidential elections: One, if he is mentally declared unfit to run as President, two, if he dies, and three, if he is not nominated by his party.
Darboe’s Presidential bid has been legally flagged in some quarters. Legal analysts are of the view that his past criminal conviction and sacking from the Vice Presidency could land have him in hot waters come nomination day. Analysts say candidates with past criminal record conviction rap sheet aren’t qualified to run for President. Analysts also said public officers who have been sacked from office, aren’t also qualified.
“Any Gambian citizen can file an objection against Mr. Darboe’s candidacy. The courts will have the final say to adjudicate on issues relating to legal issues. Within the UDP, there is panic, they do not know who is going to challenge their leader’s candidacy,” said sources.
Tourism Minister Hamat Bah recently raised the issue of Darboe’s “name changes” during the President’s meet the farmers’ tour. Bah says Darboe has changed his first name from Ousainou to Abubacarr.
“Hamat’s statement has become a subject of internal discussion within the UDP rank and file. They are of the view that Bah was telegraphing the NPP’s plans to challenge Darboe’s candidacy. Darboe has even responded to Bah’s statement during their recent Sukuta political rally. He has defended his move to go by his Abubacarr first name,” said one political observer.
According to sources, plans have been hatched by some concern citizens close to the NPP party to challenge Darboe’s candidacy.
“If Mr. Darboe’s is disqualified, it could cause a political upheaval in the country. Such a decision won’t go down well with his party. I do know that the party has reached a plan B to replace Darboe with Talib Bensouda in the event Darboe is disqualified,” one observer told us.
Darboe has settled his two million dalasis tax arrears, Almami Taal, an official of the UDP told Freedom radio in a recent interview. Darboe was cited for tax evasion by the Mama Singhateh tax commission. His previous appeals to challenge the commission’s adverse findings against him was overturned by the High Court and the Appeal Court.
Taal says Darboe has since paid his tax arrears. He said The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) could confirm such payments if contacted by the media.