By Sailu Bah
This occasion was graced by different party leaders, UDP sympathizers and well-wishers, members of the media and people from different political parties.
Chairing the occasion, Mr. Lamin Dibba, Campaign manager of the UDP, it has been 18 years since the establishment of their party in August 23rd 1996 to date.
He said UDP stands for the truth and to help the welfare of Gambians. “We are working for the truth that is why we as a party are still surviving. Though others have decided to leave the party and join others but are not better of today than yesterday and we have seen their fate which is not pleasant to them,” said Mr. Lamin Dibba, the UDP Campaign Manager.
Mr. Dibba said UDP has never taken any one to court or has never done any injustice to anyone. He added that the UDP youth wing plays a pivotal role in sustaining the party.
Mr. Dibba noted that any party that has struggled since the start of AFPRC to the APRC regime without giving up is a great party.
Momodou Sanneh, UDP representative in Kiang West and former Minority leader in the National Assembly said the importance of UDP can’t be over emphasized. “Since the establishment of the party in August 1996, members of the UDP have been going through many huddles and difficulties from their opponents but are still strong,” he asserted.
According to him, the way the current regime is ruling the country is abnormal because fear is imposed on people and even their rights are violated.
He urged the party members to continue the good work ,and added that 2016 is coming. He assured that UDP has an agenda for the development of the Gambia. He said the entire Sub region has a term limit for the position of president except the Gambia and asked: “why can’t we as Gambians work towards having a term limit?”
“Development shouldn’t be used as politics because it is a right of the Gambian Citizens to have development because they are paying tax,” he noted.
Kemeseng Jammeh of UDP and former Minority leader said the AFPRC came through a coup which was unconstitutional. “After making a coup, the AFPRC said they are not interested in politics but they stand to see that justice has prevailed because of the dubious acts and mismanagement of funds made by the former PPP regime. According to them hey are only here to regularize things but not for politics,” narrated Kemeseng.
Kemeseng said later the PPP and other opposition parties were banned to practice their political rights, while AFPRC was the only party that was engaging in its political activities, which he said is not right. This, he said, was the reason why UDP was established to stop the AFPRC from their idea of existing alone as a political party .He also spoke on the age limit in candidacy for the election. He added that the only age limitation should be when you are below the age to contest.
He contested the independence of the IEC arguing that the Commission members were appointed by only one person. He suggested that all parties with stakeholders should be invited to change the policies of the election.
“PIEC was change to IEC and were selected by a single person and all parties wrote to the IEC to change their electoral policies but they don’t accept the request,” he said. He asserted that a person’s country should be worth for him/her more than anything.
Mr. Alage Darboe,of the UDP, a youth leader from Brikama Gidda informed the meeting that a solidarity message has been received by the UDP leadership from the PDIOS party signed by the Secretary General of the party Mr. Halifa Sallah . He read the letter as thus:
SOLIDARITY MESSAGE ON THE 18TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UDP
PDOIS CENTRAL COMMITTEE 27TH SEPTEMBER 2014
History demands that we revisit the past to become well positioned to shape the future. Commemorating 18 years of existence gives your party the opportunity to learn from the past in order to shape its future. We are in solidarity with your spirit of revival and rejuvenation. To take leadership position in the political life of a country is not an easy task. It requires the transformation of difficulties into challenges and challenges into achievements. The fact that you are commemorating your 18th Anniversary today speaks volumes of the resilience of your party. Your membership should keep hope alive and take note of the fact that a genuine multi party system is the only way to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power between and among citizens with diverse interests.
PDOIS, therefore, wishes to covey to you the assurance that it will strive day and night for a society which would create a political environment that would allow the fullest development of each party to its highest standard so that any party which comes to the helm would do its best for the good of all of us.
In this regard, PDOIS is prepared to promote a climate of common solidarity among opposition parties to combat all those factors which restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly, so as to expand the democratic space to enable the people to form opinions and support parties without hindrance .
PDOIS is ready to cooperate with the UDP to work assiduously for electoral reform so that no Gambian would be unreasonably and unjustifiably restricted from voting or being voted for in free, fair and genuine elections.
The role of an opposition party is to check the excesses of those who govern and prepare to replace those who do not utilise their mandate to govern to satisfy the expectations of the sovereign people. Opposition parties are indispensable in a democratic sovereign Republic. Those who struggle to keep opposition parties alive and vibrant are safeguarding the fundamental pillars of a democratic order.
UDP is one of the pillars of the democratic order in the Gambia and PDOIS is ever ready to give its solidarity when its legitimate rights and interests are threatened. In the same vein, we wish to express our appreciation for being invited to share the joy and the lessons associated with the commemoration of your 18th anniversary.
Forward towards the enlargement of the Democratic space!
Forward Towards Genuine Electoral Reform!
Forward Towards a Genuine Multi Party System!
Aja Yam Secka, a UDP militant speaking for the women said since the establishment of UDP, they have been facing endless challenges because there is no proper democracy.
“Lots of sacrifices have been made just to see the success of the party. UDP will surely win for the 2016 election and when it does then the plight of women will be over” She assured.
Hamat N.K Bah, leader of the NRP said 18 years is very small for a political party to boast of it’s achievement but he said in the era of the APRC regime, 18 years is a torment for a political party.
“Ousainou Darboe has sacrified a lot to establish UDP, and UDP comprises people with different interests, people whose political parties were banned, others who lost their jobs, others lost their properties among other things and who decided to join the UDP and Ousainou through his hard work was able to manage for all of them,” said Hamat Bah, leader of the NRP.
Bah said some who had encountered all types of problems with the current regime decided to betray UDP and join the APRC.
Bah said Ousainou has faced lots of difficulties and added that his family has been harassed and Ousainou took it in good faith.
He noted that a road without obstacles leads to nowhere, and advised that UDP should be ready for the sacrifice.
He said that Ousainou is a man who never fears telling the truth, and he said that the struggle is just starting.
The UDP National President Dembo Bojang said Gambians should not allow the current regime to do anything it likes with people. Dembo lamented that people are forced to pray on the same day, which he said, is not correct. He added that the president has no affair with religion and shouldn’t intervene in religious issues.
Ousainou Darboe, Secretary General and leader of UDP commended all opposition leaders who accepted the invitation and came or send their messages. He said he is commending Hamat N.K Bah together with his party for coming with high delegation to join the UDP in celebrating their 18 year anniversary. He reiterated what Hamat Bah said that 18 years is very small for a political party but for the APRC regime it is a torment.
He gave a brief history of UDP, saying it was established and registered on the 23rd August 1996. He said there were lots of people who were part of the initiators and who lost their lives because of UDP.
“People have been tortured by the regime, which leads to their death, and others are still in the struggle and will never give up,” he assured.
He said UDP has had lot of impact for seeing that justice has prevailed. He gave an example of political parties which were unlawfully banned, but due to the influence of UDP and its engagement with other stakeholders within the sub region of Africa, the government had to lift the ban.
“UDP engaged the government to lift the ban on the opposition parties; we said that we will not be participating in the National Assembly election if the ban was not lifted. UDP ensured that politics is for every Gambian,” added Darboe, the UDP leader.
Mr. Darboe said ‘Back Way’ is a national concern, so people should look into a possible solution to this problem. He suggested that government should be utilising the money used for other irrelevant matters to help youths develop proper skills and help them with a starting capital to run their own businesses.
He said leadership is not just sitting in the class, but one has to get the knowledge.
He also sent condolences to all UDP members who died in the fight and pray to God to make their souls rest in perfect peace.