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UDP- Barrow’s Commission, An Attempt To Stifle Local Government Elections

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ANM Ousainu Darboe, Secretary General and Party Leader United Democratic Party.

By UDP Media Response Team

The United Democratic Party condemns President Barrow’s attempts at further constricting the democratic space of The Gambia and the deliberate attempts to stifle the Gambian citizens’ rights to freely and fairly choose who their representatives would be.

This latest attempt at election inteference by the Barrow administration is calculated to impose Barrow’s preferred albeit incompetent, ethically and morally compromised choices on The Gambian electorate at the local level. By illegally and hastily constituting a commission of enquiry that is lacking in both ethnic and political diversity bears testament to the fact that it is nothing but a witch hunt aimed specifically at impeding the United Democratic Party candidates and their chances in the upcoming Local Government elections of 2023. It is simply an abuse of the executive discretion and inches The Gambia further away from the democracy that the citizens desire and the state pretends to represent. It is an assault on democracy and let the shortlisted commission members be put on notice that they have agreed to be part of a contract aimed at further constricting the democratic space and stifle free choice.

Further, the setting up of the said commission with a schedule deliberately designed to begin sittings during the same period when the campaigning for the Local Government elections of 2023 would be taking place, is further evidence that the only goal of the setting up of such a commission at this specific time, is an attempt to sabotage and derail the campaign schedules of the opposition candidates, especially those of the UDP seeking for re-election who are their only target. For the record, the UDP holds the chairmanship of all but one of the regional administrative councils as well as the seat of Mayor for the city of Banjul which is administered differently.

The period is supposed to be the busiest period for such candidates to engage in campaigning for re-election. Thus any requirement of them to appear in a political theatre masquerading as a commission that is ethnically biased and politically compromised by seating members who are openly known to be politically aligned to President Adama Barrow and his NPP party, is simply to put the opposing candidates at a disadvantage by depriving them of the valuable time required of them to campaign for re-election. The commission is further aimed at besmirching the stellar records of our candidates, whose re-election ought to be determined by the people and not the president or his political witch hunt commission.

This attempt further marks President Adama Barrow’s unrelenting assault on our democratic gains and The continuous downward slide away from democratic norms all in an effort to cling on to power that he has thus far been unable to execute efficiently. His quest to deprive Gambians of their constitutional rights of choosing their leaders of choice by imposing his sole individual choices on them continues unabated.

The United Democratic Party condemns such undemocratic maneuvers of President Adama Barrow and urges all democratic nations to condemn such assaults on democracy.

We call on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States government, the European Union, the government if the United Kingdom and all who forged their relationships with the Gambia on the shared values of democracy to bear witness to the Gambia’s march away from such values by executive design that chips away at democratic values unrelentlessly, and this time aided and abetted by citizens who agreed to serve on a commission designed for witch hunting opponents. We call on all concerned parties, bilateral and multilateral partners to take note of such undemocratic maneuvers of the Barrow administration, which continues to present itself as a democratic nation to the world.

The UDP would also like to put on notice, the state and all concerned parties that as a political entity and as citizens, we reserve the right to seek elected political office and included in that right is the right to make our case to The Gambian people through campaigns, nothing will hinder that right except irrefutable evidence of crime. Any attempts to force compliance to show up before a biased commission in a way that interferes with our candidates’ campaign schedules would be resisted by all and any legal means at our disposal.

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