Gambian opposition leader said it is unconstitutional to have a one party state in The Gambia. Despite striving hard to strategically create a one party state, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said Section 100 of the 1997 Constitution barred the Jammeh regime from achieving such a goal.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) leader said people should have as many choices of political parties as possible, and there should not be any restriction.
Mr. Darboe’s statement is responding to the government’s plot to drive out opposition parties from the ring through an amendment that hikes deposits for would-be candidates. The tabling of the controversial bill, which obliges political parties to pay one million dalasi for registration, is deferred to June 30th.
“After all, why register political parties at D1 million when registration for big commercial businesses is not up to D1 million, and these businesses are involved in profit-making undertakings whereas political parties are not,” Mr. Darboe told The Point, adding that the proposed law will restrict choice in Gambian politics, as new parties will not emerge.
“But they [the ruling party] are trying to prevent the emergence of such political parties with this horrible condition, a condition that is incongruous with the right to freedom to form and belong to a political party,” he said, describing the exorbitant presidential candidates deposit as an undemocratic and “preposterous”.
Mr. Darboe said the APRC government’s behaviour runs contrary to its initial promise of guaranteeing democracy and development in the country. He said this is evident in the government’s pronouncements and policies geared towards strangulating democracy.
The UDP leader ruled out political parties submitting their yearly audited accounts to the Independent Electoral Commission. He wondered why a government that has not disbursed public funds to political parties is talking about making them accountable.
“If we are given public funds, we will account for it,” he said. “But if I sell my plot of land – I have done that several times – or my family provides funding for the activities of the UDP, what is the business of the IEC to know what my brother has given me; what is their business with what my sister-in-law in the United States has given me?”
“I have absolutely no problem with submitting accounts provided that public funds are given to us, provided that the government funds our activities; which actually happens in other countries,” he said.
Darboe said unlike the ruling party that uses local government offices for its political bases UDP has secretariat in Banjul, Soma, Bansang and Basse. He expressed his party’s readiness to challenge the bill from becoming a law.