By Fatou Dahaba
The Secretary-General and Party Leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), lawyer Ousainou Darboe, said the UDP’s agenda since 1996 has been to restore sanity in the Gambia through a good constitution that will be responsive to the will and aspirations of the Gambian people.
Speaking at the party’s 27th anniversary at the UDP Manjai Bureau on Wednesday, 23rd August 2023, Darboe told journalists that their journey is to install a democratic government in the Gambia that will respect human rights and the rule of law.
It could be recalled that Muhammad Ibn Chambers was in the Gambia to meet political parties and stakeholders on the draft constitution rejected by the national assembly members in 2021.
However, Darboe maintains that the UDP will only accept the draft constitution if the original draft is taken to parliament without any changes. ‘Still, if the Ministry of Justice or Interior changes or removes any clause, the UDP national assembly members will not consider it.’
He said they can make the necessary changes if it gets to the NAMs.
He lamented that it is sad that Gambia is still using and operating on the laws of Jammeh, adding the government is using some laws to suppress media freedom, which he said is unacceptable in modern-day democracy.
“Freedom of the press in the country is crucial, for without a free press, you cannot have democratic ideas that are being expanded to put across to the citizens of the country.”
The UDP Leader also stated that their struggle since 1996 is ensuring that the press is undoubtedly free and responsible, and there is a need for absolute press freedom in the country.
He said it is the UDP’s stand that some provision of the law, such as sedition, has no place in a democratic society, and they must be repealed.
“We are working with our NAMs in ensuring that the freedom of the press is protected against sedition in the country.”
Meanwhile, the UDP Leader stressed the need for the government to initiate and take responsibility for infrastructural development instead of relying on donors to bring development to the country.
He said the government must be ready to invest in the education sector, health service delivery, agriculture, and energy supply because the country cannot continue to rely on car power and Senelec for its electricity supply.
Darboe said investing in agriculture would mean the country would not feel the impact of the Russia and Ukraine wars and the different hikes in inflation.
He pointed out that there is a need for vetting of public officials by the national assembly.
Darboe also remembers their falling heroes who sacrificed and died while fighting for democracy and legal reform for the Gambia.