The United Democratic Party (UDP) held a political rally on Saturday, 9 February 2013 at the Ebony junction in Serekunda. Foroyaa published the speech of the UDP Secretary General Lawyer Ousainou Darbo in the last publication. Below is the continuation of what the other speakers said
Mr. Omar Mballow, who has been a Councilor for Kiang Berending Ward, said they need to look into the way the Gambia is being governed, pointing out that they are not happy with how Local Government is administered in the country and describing it as very sad. He said he is urging for a change in Local Government administration. He said if the UDP party assumes office the Local Government administration would be autonomous. He urged the young people to come out in their large numbers to assume responsibility as the time of the elders has elapsed. He also talked about the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities such as palm oil, rice etc. He promised that if the UDP comes to power it would reduce the heavy tax levied on basic goods. He concluded by calling on the population to look at the way the country is being governed and to remedy the situation.
Mr. Edward Wilson informed the gathering that before he came to the rally, he went to one of his friends for them to come to the meeting but that the friend was scared to come with him to the meeting because of what happened to Kanyiba Kanyi, Deyda Hydara and Chief Ebrima Manneh, Imam Baba Leigh, Imam Ba Kawsu and the former Imam of the Airport but are willing to vote for lawyer Darbo.
Wilson said he disagrees with the view that the eyes of many Gambians are now open. He said Lawyer Darboe wants to eradicate poverty. He then asked the crowd the questions whether they want the unemployment rate to be higher, lack of transport to continue; cost of living to get higher and journalists and Imams to be detained incommunicado. The crowd responded in the negative.
Mr. Lamin Barrow said since the coup d'etat in 1994, the APRC has spoilt the agriculture of this country. He said the APRC spends only 10 percent of the budget on agriculture, whilst former ruling party, the PPP, was spending 50 percent of the annual budget on agriculture. He said the government is now asking tailors to pay one thousand seven hundred dalasi for a canteen at Farefenni, adding that this is unacceptable. He said it is being claimed that Lawyer Darboe wants to remove all Alkalos and Sefoolu in the Gambia when he is elected but added that he (Darboe) is too civilized to do such a thing. He said their mothers have been selling logs to get money to support the activities of the PPP until it freed the Gambia from the colonialists. He said there are many vehicles in the country now but that fuel is too expensive. He urged everybody to rally behind the UDP.
Fatoumata Jawara, the leader of the Female Youth Wing of UDP, said in 1994 Jammeh said he needed only two years and but changed the laws to stay in power. She said anything that President Jammeh imposes on the people is seen to be destined by God. She reiterated that if Darboe comes to power, he would repeal all the bad laws formulated by the Jammeh government. She concluded by saying that Darboe has taught them a lot about the love for peace and how to avoid violence and the protection of their rights.
Eliman Unda Nyang, the UDP KM Committee Leader, said they were gathered there to show their solidarity to Lawyer Darboe for sacrificing to save 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 do to pay Darboe as they cannot afford to lose him. He said they are vehemently opposed to the 65-years age limit to run for presidency. He concluded that if Darboe is voted into 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. He said Lawyer Darboe is a learned person with a wealth of experience and knowledge of every country in the world. He touched on the disappearance of Imam Leigh and said to the religious leaders that their survival is not with APRC but with Allah. He said he is asking the Gambian women if they want to continue feeding their children from childhood to adulthood due to lack of employment. He disclosed that he was sent to prison for two years and six months without committing any crime and he ended up having been accused together with one Fodeh Makalo of being the drivers of Kukoi Samba Sanyang. He said both him and Makalo did not even know how to ride a motorbike much more to drive a car. He said they were eventually rescued by Lawyer Darboe and this is the reason why he has now dedicated his entire life to Darboe.
Mr.Kemeseng Jammeh, former UDP National Assembly Member for Jarra West, told the gathering that the European Union (EU) is a twenty-seven member organisation that signed an agreement with African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries (ACP) to help them to develop, socially, economically and politically. He said the signing of the agreement 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 emphasised that press freedom is as important as the presidency or parliament. He went on to name some of the things that the European Union did for the Gambia, such as the construction of roads from 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. He said it is unacceptable to say that the EU wants to re-colonise Gambia or to call these amounts chicken change. He said they should ask themselves what the EU has been doing for the Gambia since Independence before embarking on demonstrations. What the EU wants, he said, is for the government to conduct a moratorium on the death penalty, reopen Taranga Fm, Daily News and the Standard newspapers, adding that all these issues are to be discussed because they want press freedom, human rights and good governance.
He told the gathering that if the UDP assumes office they would repeal the bad laws. "The UDP will develop Agriculture and make sure a two-year term limit for any government will be instituted," concluded Mr. Jammeh.
Mr. Lamin Dibba, UDP Campaign Manager and Propagandist, reiterated some of the issues highlighted by Mr. Jammeh. He said some Gambians do not have the interest of the country at heart and in its relation with other countries and that they blackmail the populace. He said if the Gambia is to be at loggerheads with its partners it should have to emanate from the people, but that they should not to be misled. He said if they (UDP) 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 deplored the lack of medical equipment at hospitals and the high school fees that are unaffordable to parents. He described some of the structures built by government as "white elephant buildings". He said GPTC is defunct due to poor governance. He said the gutters in Banjul and roads are terrible and that if the UDP is to steer the affairs of the state they would build a modern capital city as it is housing the seat of government. He also deplored the desperate situation of the Banjul-Barra ferries, adding that a UDP government would also provide a ferry that would transport people from Banjul to Basse. He concluded by urging everybody to rally behind UDP.
Dembo Bojang, alias Dembo by-force, the National President of the UDP, for his part , said Gambia is at a crossroads. He said "enough is enough for the APRC regime". He said they cannot forget the people accused of a coup plot who disappeared.He also talked about the murder of Deyda Hydara and the disappearance of Ebrima Manneh.
Mr. Bojang said the NCP, GPP and PDOIS agreed to go by the ballot and Jammeh said no and then took the gun and overthrew the PPP. He said 'Operation Feed the Nation' is leaving many people to go hungry and that 'Operation Clean the nation' did not do away with waste thus resulting in the deaths of pregnant women and an increase in the incidence of malaria and asthma which are all taking their toll on the people. He said 'Operation Bulldozer' means leveling the ground and not the people.