11 February 2013

Gambia: United Democratic Party UDP Holds Rally, Opposes Age Limit to Vie for Presidency

The Opposition United Democratic Party, (UDP) held a rally at Ebony Junction in Serekunda on Saturday 9th February 2013. The Occasion attracted a crowd of over a thousand party supporters and interested persons some of whom were introduced as representatives from the provinces. The Rally was chaired by Mr. Solo Sanding who moderated the occasion.

The standard-bearer of the united Democratic Party Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, speaking after party supporters and leaders said among other things that it would have been better to be on the radio and television but since they can't access the state media, conducting it on the ground is the only option. He also went on to say that he has never seen a televised cabinet meeting except in the Gambia. He said they say that Gambia is a Muslim country, this he said is false, because section one of the country clearly indicates the Gambia is secular state. He said they can say that ninety percent of the population is Muslim and five percent is Christian which he said he can agree with. Darboe also added that the since Gambians love their religion, the first duty of a leader is to be truthful and honest. So they said the EU wants to protect homosexuals which he also said is not part of the EU's 17 points.

He said and even if it were the issue they should not make it a Muslim issue, because he said even the Christians reject it. Darboe also adumbrated that many are shouting 'No to EU demands' when they do not even have a clue about what the EU wants. But he said the unfortunate thing is that they are misled. He further questioned the arrest of Benedict Jammeh and Mambury Njie who he said they cannot even lay a charge sheet on him still and said this is what the EU does not like. He further said Imam Leigh did not observe the last "Gamo"because he is detained and added that the EU did not encourage gay marriage but wants them to conduct a moratorium on the executions. He further stated that the EU wants the media to be free and adhere to the laws but said they are claiming that the EU wants to recolonise Gambia which he said is incorrect.

He added that any grant or aid goes with conditions and further postulated that it's left to Gambians to see whether they should allow this regime to continue or to discontinue .He also argued that Gambians ratified and domesticated the treaties, so Gambia is bound by all the protocols it has ratified added the Majority leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta said that let the Leigh family sue the government to release Baba Leigh. He opined that this is the greatest embarrassment; that instead of urging them to release him, since the Gambia is hosting the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, now they are saying they do not know his whereabouts instead of conducting diligent investigations to secure his release.

Dabo also talked about the change of the working days and hours from Mondays to Thursdays and from 8am to 6pm daily which he said is not viable; that when schools are grappling with their syllabuses and they were told it was not viable so they excluded the schools while their supervisors at the regions do not work on Fridays. He said this does not make sense. He went on to say that the Gambia has a demoralized civil service while the banks operate and only the Vault section of the Central bank works on Friday which he said is not enough, because its role is more than that. He mentioned the Gambia revenue Authority which he said is under the Ministry of Finance and the ministry will not operate on Fridays.

This he said are all miscalculated. He further posited that they use the naivety of some religious fanatics O TALK ABOUT A Muslim state . He also went on to ask if the teachers are non Muslims since they would continue to working on Fridays. He said above all Yahya Jammeh must go and said that they would get rid of him in 2016 to end his senseless policies. He also added that they should strengthen the hospitals by providing the necessary medical equipment and medication to prevent people from travelling from the rural areas to Banjul. He finally criticised what he said are white elephant structures and concluded by emphasizing that Jammeh must go in 2016.

Mr. Omar Mballow, councilor for Kiang Berending Ward dilated that they need to look into the way the Gambia is governed, pointing out that they are not happy with the way this country is governed especially the local government. He also added that the situation of the local government is sad. He urged them to change, opining that if the UDP party assumes office the local government would be autonomous. He also urged the youths to come out in their large numbers and take up the responsibility, because the elders' time has elapsed. He also touched on the skyrocketing of the prices of basic commodities like palm oil and a bag of rice. He concluded by saying that, if the UDP comes to power they would reduce the heavy tax levied on basic goods and urged the populace to look at the way the country is governed and remedy the situation.

Mr. Edward Wilson, in his speech said, before he came to the rally, he went to one of his friends called Lamin and asked him to go with him to the rally, and Lamin yelled and asked: "Did you forget what happened to Kanyiba Kanyi in 2006?" He said his response was negative. He however said Lamin said he would vote for UDP but will not attend any rally. Mr. Wilson said he proceeded to another friend called Kebba and who reminded him of Deyda Hydara and Chief Ebrima Manneh. Mr. Wilson said he finally approached a third friend who also reminded him of Imam Baba Leigh, Ba Kawsu,the former Imam of GIA.

Wilson said he then headed for the rally. He said many now say that Gambians' eyes are open, but he Mr. Wilson is not agreeable to this, saying that it's only one of their eyes that's open, because he argued that Lawyer Darboe wants to eradicate poverty. He then asked the following questions to the crowd whether Gambians want the unemployment rate to be higher than mount Kilimanjaro? That whether they want to suffer from lack of transport forever. Whether they want to continue living from hand to mouth forever? And do they also want the journalists and Imams to be detained incommunicado without trial forever?

The crowd responded in the negative.

And Mr. Wilson concluded by urging them to fear Allah and not a President Jammeh, because he said if anyone dies for a human being instead of Allah that person would go to hell.

Mr. Lamin Barrow also a party militant said, since the coup d'etat in 1994, the APRC spoilt the Agriculture of this Country, because they spent only 10 percent of the budget on it, while arguing that the former ruling party, the PPP was spending 50 percent of the budget every year on Agriculture. He said the government is now asking tailors to pay one thousand seven hundred for a canteen at Farefenni which he said is unacceptable. He further stated that they said Lawyer Darboe wants to remove all Alkalos and Sefoolu in the Gambia, but he said Darboe is too civilized to do such a thing. He also went on to say that their mothers used to sell logs and supported the PPP until they freed the Gambia from the colonialists. He concluded by saying that there are many vehicles but fuel is too expensive. He urged everybody to rally behind the UDP.

Fatoumata Jawara, the leader of the female youth wing of UDP on her part said, spoke on corruption and alleged the high level of corruption in the APRC government which he opined is even felt by the suckling babies. She said in 1994, Jammeh said he needed only two years and within that period he amended the constitution to suit himself. She went on to say that anything that President Jammeh imposes on the people is seen to be destined by God and urged the people not be afraid . She also added that if Darboe comes to power, he would repeal all the draconian laws formulated by Jammeh and concluded by saying that Darboe taught them a lot about the love for peace and how to avoid violence but they would defend their rights, she posited.

Eliman UDa Nyang, the UDP KMC Committee Leader said they were gathered there to show their solidarity to Lawyer Darboe, because since 1996, Darboe was the only brave man to contest elections against Yahya Jammeh and added that Darboe sacrificed his life and property to rescue the Gambia. He went on to question the legality of the retirement age to vie for the presidency. He asked the crowd to go home and ponder what they are supposed to pay Darboe, because he opined that they cannot afford to lose him. He said that they are vehemently opposed to the 65-years age limit to run for presidency. He concluded by saying that if Darboe is in power a bag of rice would not cost more than one thousand dalasi and a box of matches would not cost one dalasi fifty butut.

Alhagie Sainey Singhateh, said everybody in the Gambia is suffering and also said that Lawyer Darboe is a learned person with a wealth of experience of every country in the world. He also questioned the disappearance of Imam Leigh and also added that their survival is not with APRC but with Allah. He went further to ask the Gambian women if they want to continue feeding their children from childhood to adulthood due to lack of employment? He calls on the good sons of the soil and disclosed that he was sent to prison for two years and six months without committing any crime and ended up accusing him with one Fodeh Makalo of being the drivers of Kukoi Samba Sanyang. He added that both of them did not even know how to ride a motorbike and questioned how they could drive a car. He went on to say that they were rescued by Lawyer Darboe and this is why he has dedicated his entire life to Darboe, he concluded.

Mr.Kemeseng Jammeh the UDP representative for Jarra West on his part said the European union is a twenty-seven member organisation that signed an agreement with African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries to help them to develop, socially, economically and politically. He said and this was done in Cotonou the capital city of Benin. He said if the Gambia implements these proposals on Democracy, Human rights, press freedom and the rule of law, they would keep supporting the Gambia, he opined. He also emphasised that the press freedom is as important as the presidency or parliament. He pointed out a few things that the European Union did for the Gambia, such as the construction of Soma to Basse, Mandinaba-Selliti, Barra-Amdallai and so on. He also added that more than one hundred million Dollars were spent on water supply from Gunjur to Koina. So he said if they say the EU wants to re-colonise Gambia and called this amounts chicken change, that is unacceptable, he said. He further argued that they should ask themselves what the EU has been doing for the Gambia since independence, before embarking on demonstrations, he said. What the EU wants, he said, is for the government to conduct a moratorium on the death penalty, reopen TerangaFm, Daily news and the Standard newspapers and all these issues are to be discussed, because they want press freedom, human rights and good governance. He concluded by reiterating that if the UDP assumes office they would repeal the draconian laws. He also condemns the president for being involved in business. "The UDP will develop Agriculture and make sure a two-year term limit for any government will be instituted", Asserted Kemeseng Jammeh.

Mr. Lamin Dibba, Campaign Manager and propagandist of the UDP buttressed some of the issues highlighted by Mr. Kemeseng Jammeh, and said some Gambians do not have the interest of the country at heart and its relation with other countries, because he said they blackmail the populace. He also added that if, Gambia is to be at loggerheads with its partners it should emanate from the people but they should not to be misled. He also added that if they are in power, the media will be free because it helps other countries to know what happens in the country. He also went on to say that the APRC propagandists are deceiving the youth. He revealed that there are no medical equipment and school fees are unaffordable by parents, and described structures as white elephant buildings. He further disclosed that GPTC is defunct due to poor governance. He opined that the gutters in Banjul and roads are terrible and if the UDP is to steer the affairs of the state, they would build a modern capital city, because it's housing the seat of government. He also mentioned the desperate situation of the Banjul-Barra ferries and said they would also provide a ferry that would transport people from Banjul to Basse. He then urges everybody to rally behind UDP.

While Dembo Bojang alias Dembo by-force, the national President of the UDP on his part said Gambia is at a crossroads, argued that enough is enough for the APRC regime, because they cannot forget it. He also added that five people accused of plotting coup d'état in 2006 disappeared and it was said that they escaped, because their vehicle ran into a ditch on their way to Janjanbureh Prison. He went further to also reiterate the murder of Deyda Hydara and the disappearance of Ebrima Manneh and said once again enough is enough for Yahya and APRC. He also added that NCP, PPP, GPP and PDOIS agree to go by the ballot and Jammeh said no and then took the gun and overthrew the democratically elected government of the Gambia. Mr. Bojang also went on to assert that: "operation feed the nation means that APRC are not feeding anybody and everyone is hungry. "And operation Clean the nation" everywhere is dirty and to cap it all, it has resulted in the deaths pregnant women, and the increase of malaria and asthma which are all taking their tolls", He sloganised. He also added that operation bulldozer means leveling the ground and not the people.

The statements made by Mr. Dembo By-Force and Mr. Lamin Dibba, Campaign Manager will be published in our next edition.

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