UDP hit back at President Barrow, saying his statement had ‘crossed the line’

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Barely 72 hours after President Barrow labeled the main opposition party of veteran politician Ousainou Darboe as the biggest national security threat facing Gambia, the UDP responded to Barrow’s statement expressing deep concern with his utterances, saying the president had crossed the line.

In a heavily worded media statement, the UDP said: ” 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 without consequences because a national security threat is a profound designation that triggers course(s) of action.”

The party further said: ” On Tuesday, October 3rd, President Adama Barrow, at a political rally marking the opening of the NPP political bureau in Jarra Soma, went on a tirade against the person of Alhagie Ousainu Darboe, leader of the UDP, employing vituperative language that is ugly and unbecoming of a Head of State. In that public gathering and a message, he said he was sent to the whole country, the president made the following declarations: The UDP poses the gravest threat to national security than anything else in the country. 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.

If the president’s aim is to hope that this irresponsible statement will cower UDP, we are more determined to defend our rights than at any time in our history.

We ask those holding national security portfolios to advise the president on this false declaration directed at UDP. They should tell him that the illusions of dictatorship he is attempting in his statement of what has the potential to harm national security, not a lawful political party 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 will abandon the rule of law in his vindictive pursuit of innocent UDP members.

Executive lawlessness cannot and should never be tolerated in our country. Lest it is lost on the president, but more likely, he is ignorant that defending the constitution is a legal obligation of every citizen who believes in it. 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 always enforce the law 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.”

The statement added: ” We wish to reiterate our party’s commitment to uphold 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 a single moment, tolerate even a single attempt of lawlessness directed at us under any guise. That is not a threat. It is a promise.”

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