By Pata Saidykhan
There will always come a time when an oppressed people will be obliged to push back against their oppressors, when they continued to be denied the ventilation they needed. It is only natural that patience and perseverance run out and the innate instincts to defend self kick in. This is the state of the Gambian opposition and United Democratic Party in particular.
Since its formation in 1996, the United Democratic Party (UDP) endured the nastiest and most undeserved wrath of the military junta camouflaged as a political party, with persistent persecution. Jammeh and his regime certainly did not anticipate the kind of resistance they had, after they had succeeded in unlawfully proscribing political participation of parties and certain people from the first Republic. Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), National Convention Party (NCP) and Gambia Peoples Party (GPP) and their respective leaderships were barred from political activity with Decree 89. The uneducated young lieutenant and his gang of average minds were able to hatch against the Gambia and Gambians with the help of many disingenuous and greedy legal luminaries and technocrats, to marginalize the Gambia’s finest. From the onset, Yaya and his crew never planned on cede power once they had muddied their hands with coagulated blood and looted riches.
Unbeknownst to them, there were determined and crafty Gambians who saw through their mischievous plots and refused to let them set us for doom. Foolishly complacent, they got blindsided by the emergence of newer, fresher politicians in United Democratic Party and National Reconciliation Party. With the new lifeline handed to PDOIS from PPP dominance, these Parties would come to challenge Jammeh and threatened his political career especially in the first two election cycles – 1996, 2001. Things have never been the same since.
Threatened by the UDP, a party that would go on to be the biggest opposition party in the country, Yaya ventured in to unsavory political stratagem that would see him morphed his new civilian government into a quasi military regime to intimidate, harass and torment his opponents. He took a page from the books of those autocratic leaders he had looked up to, to not only consolidate himself in power, but muscle and strangulate the lives out of the people. Jammeh is still bent on doing just that.
When news broke that the UDP’s caravan was intercepted by the police in the Nuimis for a supposed lack of permit, I was gobsmacked and left in awe. Knowing how calculated and law abiding the leader of the UDP Lawyer Ousainou Darboe is, to the point of being branded soft and afraid, it was immediately conclusive that the State and the ruling APRC were daring, and wanting to rake the ground of a possible confrontation that could set the country ablaze. They are luring the UDP in what could be dubbed ‘Battle of Fass’. I was angry that Yaya’s uninhibited indiscipline has gone too far and he might have gotten away with it again. I was wrong. I became proud and satisfied that the UDP stood their ground refusing to budge. That was pleasant! The UDP just like APRC, have the right to freedom of assembly and movement. Blocking their path is an infringement of their right which could almost tantamount an illegal arrest or taking hostage.
For a very long time, supporters and non UDP affiliates were frustrated by the inhumane treatment meted out to the party and its leadership that was not adequately met with equal and measured resistance. Of course Darboe and the party fought and defended a lot of the barbarity in the courts, without success. It is insulting that our country’s law enforcement chiefs do not know their job but most worryingly, would want to execute an unlawful order that could seriously threaten and destabilized that country.
What many had seen and/or heard from Fass Njaga Choi, was the type of defiance they expected from the country’s largest opposition party. That they would love them to be law abiding, but should be able and willing to defend their rights and die for them should anybody wanted to confiscate them. That the numbers that they have behind them, must count and put in play to show Gambians that they are indeed an able, qualified Government in-waiting. That there is a reason Yaya Jammeh sees them as a threat, and that should be an impetus for them to show him that Enough Is So damn Enough! Lawyer Darboe and Youth Leader Solo Sandeng embodied and manifested that in this impasse as they should. Yaya is a coward and he is not ready to die.
I have spoken to Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and a couple of people currently in Fass to extend support and solidarity, and I was impressed. Darboe and uncle Kemeseng Jammeh were in very high spirits, adamant that this silly lawlessness would have to come to an end. That Jammeh cannot continue to play a demi-god role to have the rest of the country subservient. These are people in their 60s, filling the shoes of the youth who should have been in the forefront of the battle to liberate Gambia had it not been for Jammeh’s reckless and irresponsible type of governance that had the crème da la crème of our youth risking to die at sea in search of better lives, or stay at home scared to even think for themselves.
Whatever the outcome of this standoff, would set a precedence going forward especially into the 2016 elections. Should the UDP back down, Yaya would take that for a weakness, a scored point and would do just that to continue the intimidation. Should they refuse to obliged and forge on with their tour, a huge political gain for them because Jammeh would then understand that Gambians are ready and willing to take our country back at all cost. That no amount of thuggery would make them relent. The later would be an important catalyst to a possible victory at the polls with a United Front because the Gambian electorate would need that myth buster. Yaya is a TV thug. A coward and bully who is scared to death of confrontation. That is why he will never try this audacious stunt in Banjul or the Kombos.
The election violence that marred the keenly contested elections in 1996 and 2001, were the confirmation of the type of a leader and politician Jammeh is. That employ whatever it takes to silence and crush anyone who poses a perceived threat to his reign. This would follow series of arrests, abductions and torture of staunch opposition figures like the late Momodou Lamin Shyngle Nyassi, Lamin Waa Juwara and other members of the Opposition. Deadly confrontations spearheaded by the late Baba Jobe and his defunct July 22 militants, would cost a few UDP members their lives and one Alieu Njie, an APRC supporter who was killed in the URD in 2000. It has continued and Mr Amadou Sanneh the party’s treasurer became victim. Unarguably, they bore the worst brunt of this regime’s terror and they seem to be ready to halt that. However, it is a fight that no one person or party can win alone.
The show of solidarity from Gambians especially from the other Party leaders is a mark of the dire urgency of our situation. That is why this must not be seen as a UDP fight. It is often always them because they are Jammeh’s migraine but every party and their leader are a potential victim. Ultimately, Gambia stands to lose should he prevail.
“We must either be a nation of laws equally applied to all or succumb to a nation run by clique who would commit crimes and repress the people with impunity.” – Karamba Touray
The Struggle Continues, by ALL means Necessary.
Peace To The Planet!