Jan 3, 2014, 9:44 AM
Following the defection of Ousman Rambo Jatta, a strongman of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and councillor for Old Bakau Ward, to the ruling APRC party, The Point yesterday contacted Yankuba Colley, National Mobiliser of the APRC, and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, party leader and Secretary General of the UDP, for reactions.
Rambo, who has long held the reputation as one of the most virulent and potent critics of the APRC regime, announced his defection to the APRC Monday night during celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of the presidential medical treatment programme held in Banjul.
Regarded as one of the main bigwigs behind the UDP, Rambo Jatta, was last June elected as the UDP National Youth President during the party’s congress held in Soma, a town in the Jarra West district of the Lower River Region.
Whilst Ousainou Darboe recognizes Rambo’s defection to the APRC as a legitimate exercise of his right to choose his political affiliation, Yankuba Colley, who is also the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, maintains that the move is a clear indication that the opposition in the country is dead.
What follows are the views of the two:
Our reaction as the APRC is simple. Rambo’s defection to the ruling party is yet another clear indication that the so-called opposition (parties) in this country are dead. They have failed, and we as the ruling party are not threatened. The opposition is not an agenda for us.
We are very much happy, and we welcome Ousman Rambo Jatta to the APRC. His defection to the party of the people is also an indication that we have already swept the polls, due this year, because he was a very influential person in the UDP.
The percentage is clear even though we have not reached the elections. APRC is going to sweep the polls hands down.
Gambians are seeing it, and the forthcoming elections will give APRC a landslide victory. We are fine, and we know we are going to sweep the polls. The APRC is a winning party and government, and we will continue to win.
All realistic and truthful Gambians in the opposition who have the interest and development of this country first, in all their dealings, should join the APRC, because that is what the ruling party is in for, and has been doing.
In fact, they the opposition should react to Rambo’s defection, and not us. Let them react. They have nothing to say. They have failed.
“The UDP recognizes his defection to APRC as legitimate exercise of his right to choose his political affiliation, and we have absolutely no quarrel with that; and we respect his defection. What we want to say is, that is not usual in politics; that your closest ally tomorrow becomes your political foe the next day. Your greatest foe today becomes your greatest ally tomorrow”.
Darboe went on to say that Rambo’s defections “is not something extraordinary”, adding that Rambo is being described as a strongman, “but the question is, who made him strong?”
He pointed out that it was the electorate, and the UDP party that have given him the political clout that he has. “Those Yai Compins, the foot soldiers of the UDP in Bakau, are there. It is absolutely incorrect that his defection will shake UDP. Mr. Jatta has not castigated the way UDP is run, and he did not say that UDP is running wrong policies, and didn’t say UDP has wrong programs. In fact, what I had him say is that ‘if you can’t beat the system join it’, and that is a very pregnant question, and it just shows what focus he has.”
Great Respect for Rambo
“I have great respect for Rambo, and I will continue to treat him like a good person. I have nothing against him as a person. Just as I said, he has taken a decision he feels he should take, but it does not show the weakness of UDP.
“Rambo’s defection has nothing to do about UDP’s unflinching support from Bakau. If Lang Mai defects, then I start getting worries; if Sirra Saho defects, then I will start worrying; they are the ones who made Rambo what he is in the political field today.
“The only worry is that the UDP has lost its vote.
“Yet I’m not sure whether Rambo will go to the ballot box, see my box and see that of Yahya Jammeh, reflect on what has happened to him, and vote for Yahya Jammeh. I still have my doubts whether he will vote for APRC.
“What I’m saying is that, if he entered the polling station and saw my ballot box and that of Yahya Jammeh, I doubt whether he will vote for Jammeh and the APRC, because he will quickly remember that this was the man who did this to me, and this was the man who stood by me to secure me. I’m sure he will vividly recall that, and then vote for the UDP.
No Resignation Tendered
“Rambo did not even tender his resignation to the UDP bureau, but I consider that the public announcement was his resignation.”