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Darboe Warns of Potential Worsening Authoritarianism Under Barrow’s Leadership

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President Adama Barrow and Lawyer Ousainu Darboe

By Buba Gagigo

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the Secretary-General and Party Leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), expressed concern that President Adama Barrow might surpass the authoritarianism seen during former President Yahya Jammeh’s regime if he fails to alter his current trajectory.

Darboe shared his views during an interview on Kerr Fatou’s weekly public affairs program, The Grand Bantaba, last Friday, highlighting his belief that Barrow’s actions are indicative of a growing tendency toward dictatorship.

“He (Barrow) mentioned that if you inquire about someone’s political affiliation in any office, and they claim neutrality, they are considered opposition, and repercussions may follow. This parallels Jammeh’s tactics, against which we all fought, including Barrow,” Darboe stated.

Darboe emphasized the importance of maintaining neutrality within the civil service, alleging that Barrow’s administration deviated from this principle. He pointed out instances where government officials, paid with Gambian funds, engaged in political activities for the National People’s Party (NPP), Barrow’s party.

“We emphasized the importance of keeping the civil service free from political influence—a sentiment widely shared, except by Barrow. His Political Adviser receives Gambian funds while actively supporting the NPP, and the Deputy Adviser, funded by the government, engages in political activities exclusively for the NPP. Lamin Cham, serving as a campaign manager, holds a political role paid for by the Gambian government, with taxpayers covering the costs, all while he engages in political activities on behalf of Adama Barrow. Those who claim neutrality are labeled as opposition, mirroring dictatorial tendencies. Even their Cybersecurity Adviser, Sulayman Camara, doubles as a communication officer for a political party, underscoring a pattern reminiscent of dictatorial behavior,” he asserted.

Drawing a comparison with Jammeh’s era, Darboe emphasized that despite Jammeh’s oppressive tactics, he did not use taxpayer funds to support political activities. Darboe warned of a potential deterioration in Barrow’s leadership, asserting, “If he does not rectify these issues, he may end up being worse than Yahya Jammeh.” He highlighted Barrow’s recent statements about revoking bail as indicative of dictatorial behavior, stressing that dictatorship is not solely defined by imprisonment but also by instilling fear in the populace.

“Why was Yahya Jammeh removed? Despite all his wrongdoing, Jammeh did not utilize taxpayers’ money to fund monthly campaigns for himself. He coerced permanent secretaries into conducting covert campaigns, but the practice of compensating them with taxpayers’ money or granting them political positions began with President Barrow. This is why I referred to him as a dictator. Have you not heard his statement about revoking bail? Doesn’t that exhibit dictatorial behavior? Unless he makes efforts to rectify and eliminate these unethical practices, he may end up being even worse than Yahya Jammeh. Dictatorship extends beyond imprisoning individuals; inducing a state of fear among the populace also qualifies as a form of dictatorship,” stated the leader of the UDP.

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