By Sanna Camara
Leader of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) Ousainou Darboe has said that his party will proffer a news candidate for 2016 presidential elections that is more formidable than himself. He however stopped short of mentioning the name for now, arguing that it may endanger the person somehow.
Speaking to The Standard, Mr Darboe said: “… come 2016, you will see a candidate more formidable than myself. I can assure you that. UDP is not a party that is individual-based, or personality-based. It is a party that has deep roots throughout the country. We have membership both within and outside the country, from the ranks of which we have very formidable candidates.”
The lawyer cum politician is more than 65 years, which according to laws of the Gambia, disqualifies him from contesting for presidency, something he called “abominable”. Asked to give names of such “formidable candidates” within his party ranks that are capable of succeeding him as new candidate, Darboe maintained: “Let me just say that we have members from the senior executive who are capable of succeeding me – both from outside the country and those that are here. I do not wish to mention any names…
Asked why he isn’t willing to reveal such names, the UDP leader said, Because that may jeopardise their positions… take for example, one of our very promising members: Word was going around that he is a possible successor; you have seen how the criminal justice system has been misused to get at him,” he said, referring to Amadou Sanneh, a chartered accountant and an executive member of the UDP who was convicted for issuing supporting documents to asylum seekers.
“We do not want that to happen to others. Obviously he has all the ingredients [to become my successor as presidential candidate]… Yes, I can tell you that [… his conviction] has something to do with it,” said Darboe.
‘Very hostile’ political environment
He UDP leader who ran four times against President Jammeh and lost described the current political environment as “very hostile”. He said that there are ongoing prosecutions of his party activists and senior executive members. “One is completed, that is Solo Sandeng. We also have 14 other people being prosecuted in Brikama, another person being prosecuted in Bundung. I think this is a ploy to have me occupied in the courts, instead of being engaged in my political activities.
“Again, it is a misuse of the criminal justice system. Anyone in his right thinking mind will never have thought that the state will prosecute Solo Sandeng for the so-called offence he is alleged to have committed. But it’s a shame on them. It just shows that they do not put on their thinking caps. If they were doing so, it is a case that will never have been prosecuted…. but with other cases too, no government in its right senses, that is committed to democracy, that accepts legitimate opposition in its country, will prosecute anybody for those so-called offences,” Darboe argued.