The Secretary General and the party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), lawyer Ousainou Darboe has expressed disappointment over Gambian president Adama Barrow, a man Darboe still sees as a prodigal son of the party.
Darboe engaged the press Wednesday, barely 24 hours after the National Assembly members who are loyal to President Barrow and Jammeh killed the 2020 draft Constitution at the second reading stage.
A journalist confronted him with a question that it was in fact the UDP that presented Adama Barrow to Gambian people insinuating a public perception that the party must be held responsible for Barrow’s action.
However, Darboe responded that the UDP has no regret for presenting Barrow as a candidate, although he said they are disappointed. “You see UDP does not have any regret in presenting Barrow as a candidate in 2016. UDP is only disappointed but has no regret”.
Barrow’s true character was not known to UDP at the time of his nomination.
“The hidden character of the individual is usually not known when they are looking for something. It is what they aspire for when they get there, then their latent characters are revealed, and I must tell you that as far as the UDP is concerned, Barrow is a prodigal son. He’s a prodigal son as far as we are concerned. And certainly, when you have a prodigal son and he gave it away, yes, you can only be told that he is your son but it doesn’t mean that we have imbued in him the quality and character that he exposes,” Darboe said.
Ousainou Darboe also renewed the party’s dissociation with the lawmakers who originally won their parliamentary seats through the UDP tickets and now identifying themselves with the president.
“During our working period with some of our elected deputies, we discovered the type of people they are and that’s why we removed them from our party, because we don’t want them to taint our reputation. You can see that right now even though they are not a part of us, people identified them with us and they are not.”
The veteran lawyer and politician refuse to accept that the lawmakers should be identified with the UDP after they were dismissed from the party.
“You don’t have to identify them with the UDP. We suspected their behaviour and we removed them. I do not deny the fact that UDP presented them to the Gambian people but when we suspected their conduct, we put them aside. If we had condoned them and they are acting this way you could say UDP gave us these bad people and they are still keeping them.”
Meanwhile, Darboe assured that the party will put effective checking tools that will vigorously do background research on candidates through the party’s local structures to avoid the current realities.
Implications of rejecting the bill
The UDP leader said the implication of the rejection of the draft constitution, which he labelled as more progressive, is that the country will remain to be guided by the 1997 Constitution ‘until a more serious government comes in and brings back the draft Constitution.’
“That’s the implication and that’s why I said the UDP wants to assure Gambians that in 2022 when the UDP comes in, we will reintroduce this Constitution.”
Wasting D116 million
Darboe believes that Barrow’s ambition for a self-perpetuating rule is what led to the rejection of the bill, saying they could have saved the millions for socio-economic development instead of financing a project that the very system turned to reject it.
“If we are not witnessing the start of the start of a dictatorship, we are certainly witnessing the enthrallment of self-perpetuating rule.”
He claims Barrow wants to go for 15 years, and he doesn’t even know whether he is going to win the 2021 election.
“He just wants to go for 15 years. Look, he got his people to kill this bill that cost the Gambian people 116 million dalasi. I think he has a lot to explain to the Gambian people why he has let that amount of money to go into the drain, into the gutters. At least if they did not have faith in the working of the Constitutional Review Commission, they should not have done that and used those monies for our socio-economic development rather than just wasting it because your desires have not been met.”
On whether he is qualified to contest for the presidency under the 1997 Constitution, Darboe affirmed his readiness.
“Only three things will prevent me from contesting the 2021 election under any Constitution. One, if I am ill, in fact if I am mentally incapacitated, physically incapacitated and death or the UDP doesn’t select me as their candidate. These are the three that can prevent me.”