The leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) has said that “being in the opposition under the current Gambian regime is hell.”
Mr. Hamat NK Bah made the statement at a mass rally organised by the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) at Serekunda on Saturday. It was in commemoration of the party’s 18 years of existence. Mr. Bah’s presence at the rally was in response to an invitation the UDP had extended to all the opposition parties in the country.
Hamat Bah said he took the podium to do justice to the UDP and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. “I came with a high powered delegation to demonstrate brotherhood and acknowledgement of the sacrifices of the UDP and its party leader in particular.”
Mr. Bah, whose party came into existence in 1996, said it was a necessity to tell people about Mr. Darboe’s immense personal sacrifices.
“I don’t want to say something about the UDP only as a party, but also to say something about its leader Ousainou Darboe as a person,” he said, adding that he was present at the 10th year anniversary of the late Sheriff Dibba’s NCP party. “I was at that rally at Albion Street in Banjul where Mr Dibba said that 10 years is too small for the life of a party at that time. But 18 of being an opposition under the present regime in the Gambia is a hell.”
Hamat Bah recalled the formation of the UDP in 1996, when many people initially joined the party but some quit the party after the first election mainly due to tough political environment punctuated with hostilities and difficulties. “When UDP was being formed, there were different interest groups that come together. These encompassed people who knew nothing about politics or lost political glory, properties at the commission of inquiry and jobs.
“Some of this people did not necessarily love Ousainou Darboe but saw in him as an alternative to the military junta and the best qualities of a democrat.” Mr. Bah said selfish people betrayed the UDP after their dreams of regaining their lost glory, properties and enjoyment were not fulfilled.
Bah said some of these people defected to the ruling APRC when the UDP narrowly lost the 1996 presidential elections. “When Ousainou was taking up the UDP leadership, he was among the four leading lawyers in this country; he sacrificed all those companies he was representing. He lost everything for the UDP and the Gambia and I think we have to recognize those sacrifices. Tomorrow when we read the history of this country, Ousainou will be found in a positive page in that book,” the NRP leader said, urging Gambians “to embrace each other and work towards achieving the ideals of democracy, rule of law and prosperity.”