Shortly before taking to the streets, the Secretary General of United Democratic Party Lawyer Ousainou Darboe prepared the mentality of family members (wives and children). The somber address could only be compared to the statement of a soldier on a war mission.
“I’m ready to go to the streets to demand justice for my children,” Mr. Darboe told his family. “So do not worry about me. I have lived my life for The Gambia and have achieved a lot. If they want to shoot, let the first bullet lands on me.”
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe has always been a man who does not speak loosely but one who guards whatever he says. He has always been telling protest-frenzy Gambians that “when I say I will protest, I will be on the streets when the circumstance demands it. I will not tell people what they want to hear and not do it.”
When news of the torture, coma and extra-judicial execution of Solo Sandeng (UDP’s Organising Secretary) came to light coupled with the government’s refusal to allow families and party officials access to them, Lawyer Darboe knew his options have narrowed down. He was determined to do what every leader who is worth the salt will do: lead your followers to demand for justice. That was exactly what Ousainou Darboe had demonstrated and asked his party leadership to do the same. He knew he was dealing with a paranoid regime that is more scared of its opponents than death. A regime that has been and continues to feed on the blood of innocent civilians. A regime that just two months back tortured to death Sheriff Dibba, the Secretary General of Gambia National Transport Control Association, for merely demanding a reduction of fuel price in the country. Like majority of Gambians, Dibba did not understand why fuel price was on the increase in The Gambia when crude oil price the world over continue to decrease.
Darboe advised al deputy executive members to stay out of the peaceful protest. This strategic decision will keep the party up and running in case Darboe and others do not come back.
No sooner had the peaceful protest started than the Police Intervention Unit descended on the protesters, teargassing, beating and arresting them. The entire executive, including party leader, Kemeseng Jammeh, Alhagie Momodou Sanneh, Lamin Jatta and Femi Peters, were arrested and kept in custody.
The UDP Deputy Secretary General, Aji Yamundow Secka, has since stepped into the shoes of Mr. Darboe.
At a time our government should have busied itself with cleaning the mess of President Jammeh’s border crisis and ease burden on ordinary Gambians and Senegalese, we were shocked the dictatorial regime decided to open yet another bloody chapter. As a country, we are at a break or moment period – a period capable of putting our country in fire. The world must not watch idle and allow this madness to thrive.
Everyone agrees that without politics there is no democracy and without democracy there is no development. Shame on Jammeh’s style of democracy – a democracy that allows innocent blood to be spilt with families denied justice. Any blood that is wasted in the fight for The Gambia’s freedom will continue to be celebrated. Only cowards will commit a crime and remain hiding.