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Darboe Criticizes President’s National Dialogue as Ineffective

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 Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, Secretary General and Party Leader of UDP

By Buba Gagigo

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the Secretary General and Party Leader of the United Democratic Party, delivered scathing remarks regarding the effectiveness of the president’s National Dialogue, asserting that the event lacked the seriousness required for meaningful national discourse.

During his Koriteh speech on Tuesday, Darboe emphasized the necessity for citizens to evaluate the country’s current trajectory, both individually and collectively. He expressed deep concerns about the nation’s direction, attributing its challenges to a failure of leadership.

Darboe highlighted the escalating cost of living, citing the difficulties many face in providing basic necessities for their families, particularly during Ramadan. He criticized the recent National Dialogue initiated by the President, labeling it as mere political theater rather than a genuine attempt at addressing critical national issues.

The UDP leader underscored the irony of the President convening a dialogue on matters that are essentially the government’s responsibilities, suggesting that it exemplifies the administration’s failure. He called for a departure from divisive politics and urged the President to demonstrate tangible efforts towards national unity. 

“Where are we as a country, and more importantly, where are we heading in a fast-changing world? The answers to these two basic questions are that, as a country, we are failing and heading in the wrong direction,” Darboe said.

“We are all witnesses to the acute and high cost of living in the country, and this is getting worse every day. Many are finding it hard to provide basic meals for their families. This has been made more glaring in the just-ended month of Ramadan with our friends, neighbors, and families scrambling to prepare decent Iftar,” the UDP leader added.

“Another example, is that in the not-too-distant past, the President proposed and convened what was billed as a “National Dialogue to discuss “our collective responsibility in preserving the nation, safeguarding the state and securing our resources.” That the President, who has been in charge of the country for seven years, is calling for dialogue on what are essentially core functions of the very government he leads is illustrative of the magnitude of the failure he is presiding over. To invite his political competitors to give condensed, few-minute speeches in the said event cannot be termed as a serious national dialogue. It is closer to a televised gimmickry disguised as a serious and sincere conversation about a nation facing serious challenges,” Darboe said.

Addressing President Adama Barrow directly, Darboe urged him to confront divisive politics and prioritize national unity. He underscored the urgency of combatting the pervasive issue of drug abuse, calling for a coordinated effort involving various agencies and community leaders.

“Foremost is the need for him to dial down and abandon the deep, bitter, and dangerous polarization he and his allies have injected into the politics of this nation. A call for national unity from a government that has fractured and deeply divided communities and even families in the pursuit of political power will ring hollow unless Gambians see and verify a clear change of direction, starting with the president himself down to the last person in his Government,” he said.

Furthermore, Darboe emphasized the urgent need to combat the growing threat of drug abuse, advocating for a comprehensive inter-agency approach to tackle the issue effectively.

“Drugs and their use are taking root in our society, destroying our youths and corrupting our governance infrastructure. Drugs and drug use directly cause crime rates to go up in any society; they are prevalent. Nothing comes closer to a national emergency than this menace. It is urgent that the President convene an inter-agency task force comprising DLEAG, the Police, the Military, SIS, other law enforcement agencies, local councils, religious leaders and ward-level volunteers tasked exclusively to tackling drugs and their effects,” he said. 

Continuing his critique, Darboe condemned corruption within Barrow’s administration, characterizing it as a cancer eroding the country’s foundations. He lamented the prevalence of institutional theft and the culture of impunity, which he argued hampers economic progress and exacerbates citizens’ daily struggles.

“That is CORRUPTION. Institutional thieves are on the rampage across all sectors of government, and a pernicious sense of impunity is also setting in because people believe stealing public funds is normal and culprits can expect no adverse consequences. Audit reports being relegated to mere opinions and so ignored, outright cases of theft, corruption, and contract fraud have all become the norm. All these contribute to economic stagnation and governance failure, and they impose the kind of terrible difficulties our citizens face in their daily lives,” Darboe said.

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