Mar 20, 2009, 8:32 AM
The Secretary General and party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, has vowed that come 24th November, the UDP will unseat incumbent President Yahya Jammeh from the position he occupied for the past 17 years.
Darboe, who was addressing a rally organized by the UDP in Serrekunda recently, described as “baseless” comments by President Jammeh that neither coups nor elections can remove him from power.
“Believe me, if Gambians really need change and are yeaning for a change, then come 24th November, President Jammeh will have no option but to leave State House. He said neither coup nor elections can remove him from power, but my message is for Gambians to vote massively for the opposition and see whether he will accept defeat or not,” Darboe said.
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, who will be seeking a fourth term in office in the November polls, will face what analyst believe is a largely divided opposition, which has no other option but to unite in order to pose any serious threat to him.
“The international community is not sleeping, and a President who fails to respect the desire of his people, especially at the ballot box, will be taught a bitter lesson,” he added, while giving the example of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo who, Darboe said, failed to accept defeat despite losing the elections.
Hailing the bravery of his party’s former campaign manager, Femi Peters, whom he described as “Nelson Mandela”, Darboe called on his supporters to come out in their large numbers, come 24th November, and vote for the UDP.
“It is just a few months to the polls; so I am urging you to come out in your large numbers and vote the APRC regime out of power,” Darboe told the rally.
According to him, poverty in the country is now at a higher degree.
“A bag of sugar is costing D1500, which an average Gambian cannot afford. This means that we Gambians need to effect a change, because this election will define the future of The Gambia,” he further stated.
Darboe told the rally, which was attended by mainly youths and women, that the forthcoming presidential election will restore the dignity of Gambians.
In his view, President Jammeh thinks that Gambians are 100% in for him.
“This is a joke, because some Gambians are just following him for their selfish interest, as demonstrated in the just-concluded meet-the-people tour, where people dance and sing just to get something from him,” he added.
Darboe went further to criticise a high court judge who, he said, goes to the provinces to campaign for the ruling APRC, noting that this is unconstitutional and unprofessional.
“Imagine, how can a high court judge campaign for the President? It is really shameful seeing a person who should be independent and impartial campaigning,” he declared.
He further added that his party’s priorities will, among others, include the economy and agriculture.
On the issue of Basiru Jawara, which dominated the rally, Darboe said he will deal with Jawara at an appropriate time, noting that Basiru must tell him where he found him (Darboe) drinking alcohol or intoxicated.
Dembo Bojang, alias Dembo By Force, a strong UDP politician and long time critic of the ruling APRC party, also spoke at the rally, and deplored the use of shackles and handcuffs on accused persons.
“This act is immoral; it dates back to colonial times, during the slave trade. Why shackling our brothers for merely committing crimes that are yet to be proven by the courts?”