The United Democratic Party has written to the Government requesting them to declare April 14, 15 and 16 as National Martyrs Day in commemoration of the death of Solo Sandeng and several others who were subsequently arrested and reportedly tortured.
Sandeng, an opposition activist, was arrested on April 14 in 2016 for protesting for electoral reforms and reportedly tortured to death by state intelligent agents.
Eight former intelligent agents are currently being tried for ‘his killing’.
“We have written and respectfully asked the Government to consider declaring April 14, 15 and 16 as a National Matters Day. We commemorated it this year by establishing the Solo Sandeng Memorial Lecture…,” said the party’s spokesperson Almamy Taal on Wednesday.
Taal has chaired a press conference at the party’s Manjai bureau led by deputy party leader Aja Yam Secka.
The press conference was meant to inform Gambians on the activities of the party in the past few months and also reveal the line of activities to be undertaken, said Taal.
UDP, currently Gambia’s biggest political party, has enjoyed broader political support following the fall of country’s former ruler Yahya Jammeh.
The party’s leader who is currently the country’s vice president Ousainou Darboe was quoted in the media last week criticizing people’s “irresponsible use” of social media.
The comment attracted lots of criticism against Darboe but Taal told Journalists that their leader’s statement was in no way a suggestion of a government policy to regulate or restrict the platform.
“Social media has played a very significant role in the struggle to destroy the dictatorship that was here… However, in democratic dispensation it is very possible that even this useful tool can be abused for ends that are not going to help national development,” he said.
“But it is not the position of the party leader that social media should be abolished or banned or anything like that. I think like an elder statesman, he has every right to caution about tendencies and trends that are proving to be harmful. You can see that a lot of people will be recording insults which go viral… Social media is a very useful tool but it is very possible for it to be abused like any useful tool…”
UDP vs Barrow Youth Movement
There has been a reported tension between the UDP and a youth movement formed by the country’s president Adama Barrow.
In the Central Baddibou, there was a reported tension between the supporters of the UDP and the youth movement in Njaba Kunda, a story Taal dismissed.
Taal said such comments are untrue saying their party “is a united party…”
“As far as we are concern, in the Baddibous, the UDP’s strengthen is as it is since the last parliamentary election,” Taal said.
Sulayman Saho, the party’s lawmaker representing Central Baddibou, also said there was no problem between the UDP and the youth movement but instead it was the village of Njaba Kunda and the movement.
Since its founding in August 1996, the UDP has struggled to free itself of label that it is a Mandinka party.
However, the party’s second in command Secka said such a label is unfair and untrue.
“UDP is not a Mandinka party… Ousainou Darboe is a Mandinka but I am the deputy leader and I am a wollof. And I have not received any form of discrimination…,” she said.
“Aji Sukai Naka is a wollof and she is a national president of the women wing. And you have Adama Jallow a Fula who is a second national president of the women’s wing. Nogoi Njie, just to name a few. You all know Femi Peters, he is an Aku and he was an executive member of the party. UDP is a party for justice and democracy…”
The party has announced they will commemorate their founding in August but at a different date than 23 since that day will coincide with Edul Adha.
The party’s spokesperson also said they are going to congress from ward level from September.