By Omar Bah
The leader of the United Democratic Party has alleged that his former protégé, Adama Barrow had tried to hijack the UDP and impose himself as leader of the party.
“He wanted the UDP to make him presidential candidate. I said no, that’s not correct because you have to go through the normal process,” Ousainu Darboe told Star TV on Tuesday.
Mr Barrow was the party’s deputy treasurer who became its presidential candidate and then led the coalition to victory in the 2016 election.
The two men worked closely in cabinet but had a big fallout, with Mr Barrow now forming his own party, the NPP.
Explaining the fallout, the UDP leader went on to tell Star FM that he would not sit back and allow Barrow hijack the party.
“I have never imposed myself on the party and so I will not allow nobody to impose himself on the party, not even when you are president. That will not be a license for you to hijack it”, Darboe warned.
Mr Darboe however made clear that when he was in government, there had been no problem between him and Barrow as far as the running of government was concerned. “I think that would have been the most serious issue, but there had been no doubt about my loyalty to the Gambia and of course to President Barrow, and even now as a citizen I owe that loyalty to him. But of course I have made it very clear at a rally in Sukuta that no one should be with the mistaken belief that there is another president in this country other than President Barrow, but also, there should be no mistake that there is no leader of the UDP other than Ousainu Darboe, until at such time that congress removes me and anyone who is a member of the UDP will have to accept that fact,” he clarified.
The UDP leader also dispelled suggestions that the Coalition government was a UDP government.
“It has never been a UDP government. The thinking capacity is totally different. In fact Barrow started calling meetings at State House with traditional chiefs without the Minister of Local government Lamin Dibba who was the minister responsible for them, but was not invited. I too was never invited but other ministers who support his agenda were there. Frankly if he had taken things the right way, he would have gotten the support of the UDP. But to say that I am the President and therefore the one who should contest as a presidential candidate from the ranks of the UDP, that would tantamount to a coup. We couldn’t accept that from anybody. If you are overwhelmed by the powers of your office, UDP is not the party you try that with,” he warned.
Responding to criticisms that he was the one who spoilt the Coalition partners’ idea to contest the National Assembly election as one bloc of independent candidates, Darboe refuted: “Contrary to that misleading information being peddled on both the social and conventional media that there was an agreement to contest the National Assembly as a Coalition,there was nothing like that .Those claims are absolutely false and I think the people who mediated this should really be honest to themselves and speak the truth to the Gambian people. There was never an agreement that the National Assembly election should be contested on the basis of independent candidates in a Coalition. There was no such agreement and I challenge those people engaged in such false information to produce documents showing that there was any such agreement. This was not even remotely discussed,” he argued.
He alleged that those peddling the false information for political gains and “with total dishonesty” tried to include in the document that National Assembly elections were to be conducted on independent platform when they were reviewing the Coalition agreement.
“But Madam Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang told them that that was not part of the agreement and that it should be removed.They thought they could slip this in so that Gambians will say yes this was agreed on,” he stressed.
On the president’s controversial removal of YaKumba Jaiteh as National Assembly Member, which has since been reversed by the Supreme Court, Darboe said President Barrow had consulted him about his intention to sack YaKumba Jaiteh but he had advised him that he doesn’t have the power to sack her.
“He was not happy with what I advised him and I think when the court rejected YaKumba’s injunction, he thought he was right and he decided not to work with me again and that was my sacking,” Darboesaid.