ANM Ousainu Darbo, Party Leader and Secretary General of the UDP
On Tuesday, October 3rd, President Adama Barrow at a political rally marking the opening of the NPP political bureauin Jarra Soma, went on tirade against the person of Alhagie Ousainu Darboe, leader of the UDP, employing vituperative language that is ugly and unbecoming of aHead of State . Additionally, the president in that public gathering and in a message he said he was sending to the whole country made the following declarations:
1) The UDP poses the gravest threat to national security than anything else in the country.
2) Henceforth, he will instruct the Inspector General of police to ignore court orders granting bail to any member of the UDP that his government is already maliciously persecuting and immediately re-arrest them.Both statements are categorically condemned in their entirety.
Whatever the president’s motivations are for these statements, whether it is bluster or an intention to target UDP for persecution, there should be no doubt that those who fought and defeated the tyranny of Yahya Jammeh with their bare hands and righteous determination will do everything in their power to forestall the reconstitution of dictatorship in this country. A statement designating a legally registered political party that is the biggest in the country as posing the gravest national security threat to the country has crossed a line. It is a statement that is not without consequences because a national security threat is a profound designation that triggers course(s) of action. If the aim of the president is a hope that this irresponsible statement will somehow cower UDP, we assert that we are more determined to defend our rights than any time in our history.
We are asking those holding national security portfolios to advise the president on this specific false declaration is directed at UDP. They should tell him illusions of dictatorship he is attempting in this statement of his is what has potential to harm national security not a lawful political party that is serving the Gambian people diligently and honorably with the responsibilities they have been assigned to do .
On the second ugly declaration from the president that he will direct the police to violate court orders, we categorically condemn this affront to a coequal branch of the government. The judiciary is a separate and integral part of any functioning democracy and by declaring intent to willfully and capriciously violate orders emanating from the courts; the president is effectively saying he is going to abandon the rule of law in his vindictive pursuit of innocent UDP members.
Executive lawlessness cannot and should never ever be tolerated in our country. Lest it is lost on the president, but more likely, he is ignorant of the fact that defending the constitution is a legal obligation of every citizen who believes in the constitution. A Head of State cannot violate the constitution, and he certainly must never order the police who are sworn duty bearers to uphold the constitution to violate their oaths. The police are not a personal vendetta executing agency. Their job is to enforce the law at all times without fear or favor. We urge the leadership of the police to respect the judiciary, uphold the law and resist being made pawns in the potentially dangerous path the president is taking the nation.
We wish to reiterate our party’s commitment to hold on to our cherished values of peace, justice and democracy. We believe in the supremacy of the rule of law as the governing principle for our beloved Gambia. We will break no laws in the exercise of our fundamental rights. However, we will not for single moment tolerates even a single attempt of lawlessness be directed at us under any guise. That is not a threat. It is a promise.
United Democratic Party SecretariatNo. 1 Alpha Tafsir StreetBanjul, The Gambia
5th October 2023