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The Sacking of Darboe and Co. a Political Attempt to Delegitimize UDP’s Status as Majority, Says Almamy Taal

The Spokesman of the United Democratic Party, Almamy Taal has referred to the sacking of Ousainou Darboe and co as a political attempt to delegitimize the majority that the party has in the country.

UDP’s Secretariat General Darboe was sacked as the Vice President Friday after months of public spat between him and his self-confessed protégé, President Adama Barrow. Also sacked were Darboe’s political allies; Amadou Sanneh, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, and Lamin Dibba, the Minister of Agriculture.

Over the past few months, the political feud between Barrow and Darboe over the formation of the President Barrow Youth for National Development deepened, prompting the two former close allies to use political meetings and rallies to indirectly attack each other.

People are now raising questions as to what UDP can do, now that its leader is out of government. In an interview with The Chronicle, Taal played down the issue, saying that the party has a very glorious history in as a political movement.

Almamy Taal

“We are going to use our numbers and our majorities to do the work that the Gambian people have elected our leadership for to serve this country. We stand very proud as a party that we have offered outstanding, unquestionable and patriotic service to our nation. When the hour was dark, our party was here. Now that we have been able to expel one dictator, we believe that the majority that we had over these years is solidly behind us and we look to the future with optimism and with continued hard work, to make sure that the trust and confidence that the Gambian people have continually bestowed on the UDP continues to be enjoyed by the UDP.”

He argued that the dismissal of Darboe and his allies was the least of UDP’s concerns.

“The assumption that a lot of people make is that the positions that were occupied by the UDP leadership is what made them. What is free on the record of this country is that we have been in opposition for 22 years and there was a time we don’t even have one Member of Parliament because we boycotted the elections. So the place of Ousainou Darboe and the UDP in the political history of the Gambia is not pursuant to an office. He had already achieved that position and the party has already achieved that position with the majority of Gambians before these elections.”

Citing UDP’s numerical strength in the parliament, Taal said the party is part and parcel of the governance architecture, adding that “it is undeniable, nobody can stop that.”

Sanna Jawara, the UDP Member of Parliament for Fuladu West told The Chronicle he wasn’t surprised by Darboe’s sacking and described it as a blessing in disguise. “Our leaders are free from any corrupt act, bribery or misappropriation of government funds.”

According to Nyima Camara, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia, it was evident from many months ago that Barrow has an ambition that rivals Darboe’s.

“Unlike Barrow, Darboe has a massive political base. The choice for Barrow was between having to choose to remain within Darboe’s base and gain their support for his re-election or yield to Darboe’s ambition on one hand. However, yielding to Darboe would mean that with UDP, Barrow cannot seek a second term. On the other hand, if Barrow chooses to continue his supposed rivalry with Darboe, he has to create his own political base. Therefore, relieving Darbo of his position within this current Government seems to suggest that Barrow has chosen the later path.”

Good old days when Darboe and Barrow were ‘son’ and ‘father’

Notwithstanding, she added, the fact that this decision “would undoubtedly have direct implications on Barrow’s political career (in the sense that it could make or break him- my inclination being towards the later), the implication on national development is that it may or may not afford the Barrow government an opportunity to refocus their attention on the assigned development agenda.”

Tug of war of naked power struggle

Ms. Camara argued that evidently, the clash of political ambitions between the two leaders has preceded any chance that Barrow could have to make his mark as far as honoring his political mandate or fulfilling his promise to the Gambian people.

“Whereas the earlier part of his presidency was used to strategize the different reform processes that was to take place, soliciting international support for his development agenda, the later part has seen him being embroidered more and more into the tug of war of naked power struggle, which in my opinion, was not only premature, but also a deviation from the original purpose and their mandate. It has been frustrating for many ordinary spectators. Our hope is that, now, politics would take place outside of government as the government reassumes business.”

Neither the government nor the presidency so far gave any official reason for Darboe’s dismissal. There are concerns that the political feud that may ensue between his camp and Barrow’s may hamper the government’s National Development Plan. But according to Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, the blue print is here to stay.

“It is a development policy put in place by the government. Whether someone is there or not, the implementation is ongoing and the success of the NDP largely depends on two key issues; political will and the availability of funds. We believe the political will is there and funds have been trickling in slowly. This is the government’s blue print and it is something that is dear to the president and that agenda is there. So I think the implementation is ongoing,” he told The Chronicle.

L-R: Ebrima Sillah, Darboe, Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe, Barrow

On the streets, different people have different opinions about Darboe’s sacking. Mawdo Cham alias Almao, a phone seller and repairer praised the president for showing Darboe that there could only be one leader.

“We all saw this coming. I think Mr. Darboe was disrespectful to Barrow. In my opinion, he took Barrow for granted and that was wrong. He’s the one elected by the people and I’m glad he had to guts to get rid of these UDP detractors.”

Isatou Jallow, a student told The Chronicle, “I hope this brings an end to the months of infighting and political bickering and opens a new page for development and prosperity. We are sick and tired of all these fights.”

Kebba Jeffang and Kebba Ansu Manneh contributed to this story

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