The deputy leader of the United Democratic Party has explained why her party could not win the presidency, despite pulling large crowds. The challenge, Mariam Secka concurred at a Brikama rally, lies in transferring these large crowds into real votes for the party.
“Our diagnosis of the problem has shown that it is not because UDP does not have a support base, no it’s far from that. The problem is that many of the young people either don’t register or they refuse to go out and vote on polling day,” she said, dispelling the belief that “election will never remove Yahya Jammeh. Some of you continue to believe that it is a waste of time to register and to vote.”
Read below MariamSecka’s full statement:
Mr. Chairman, the president Hon. Dembo Bojang, the executive members here present, the elders committee, the regional chair persons, the regional coordinators, the Yai Konpins, party supporters and well wishers, the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, all protocols duly observed good evening all.
I wish to register my greetings to the courageous family members of the victims of 14th and 16th April and 9th May 2016 who are present or could not be with us.
At this juncture, can we observe a minute silence in honour of our hero, Ebrima Solo Sandeng, the Steve Biko of The Gambia.
May his soul rest in perfect peace Ameen.
Mr. chairman, I feel deeply honored to address this rally to deliver this statement on behalf of the Secretary General and party leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
Since April this year when the authorities arrested Ebrima Solo Sandeng and his group for peacefully demanding electoral reforms in order to conduct free and fair elections and the arrest of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and our other senior executive members for asking the government to produce Solo dead or alive, the UDP had not been conducting political activities.
Whilst we were busy on the court cases and to see that our people are free from illegal state abduction, the APRC government has also been busy bullying and intimidating our supporters in different parts of the country so that they can abandon the UDP. Some people have also used that as an opportunity going around the country telling people that the UDP is dead; that they should abandon the UDP and many other unfounded stories. This has created confusion across the country among our supporters we are told. There is no iota of truth in that.
Notwithstanding the difficult situation the UDP is going through, our party leader and Secretary General, Alhagie Lawyer Ousainou Numukunda Darboe, has directed that we continue the grass root mobilization and recruitment of new members especially youths; knock from door to door, house to house, talk to everyone; Energize every party member to make sure we move on to make this party the greatest once again.
That the regional, district and village committees should from now on be organizing weekly meetings in their respective localities to be briefing and updating local members about what is going on.
That chairpersons, coordinators, Yai Kopins, from now on, you should be visible in rural localities and regularly updating the executive about what is going on in your areas.
The party leader has further directed that we should all be determined and united under the single purpose of defeating tyranny in The Gambia. He warned that we should not allow ourselves to be distracted.
We all know that UDP never lacks crowd at our meetings. But over the years, these big crowds had not been transformed into real votes for the party.
Our diagnosis of the problem has shown that it is not because UDP does not have a support base, no it’s far from that. The problem is that many of the young people either don’t register or they refuse to go out and vote on polling day.
Many of you are misled into thinking that elections will never remove Yahya Jammeh. Some of you continue to believe that it is a waste of time to register and to vote.
Currently the replacement of damaged or lost voters’ cards is in progress. We urge all party members who are affected to go out and replace their cards. Any one of you who say you support the party but refuse to register then you have question your commitment to this party. It is the duty of every one of you to get registered and to effectively participate in the electoral process. Remember your vote is your voice.
You all know that since 1996 Yahya Jammeh has been targeting the UDP to either deregister us or to render us ineffective. This is because we are his biggest problem. He saw the events of April 14 and 16 as opportunity to clamp down on the UDP.
They arrested Solo and his group on the 14 April and brutally tortured them. In the process, Solo was willfully murdered by his torturers in state custody.
Our inspirational leader, Lawyer Darboe together with his courageous executive, came out on the 16 of April to demand the state to produce Solo dead or alive. In the process, they too were arrested. The state brought charges against them and refused them bail.
From the start, we have seen how the state investigators cooked up evidence against our people.
We have seen how the government lawyers brought in so-called witnesses to lie in court. We have seen how the judges compromised themselves by ignoring all ethical standards for a free and fair trial by not even allowing our lawyers to have private confidential discussion with our people. We have seen how the security forces have been mishandling our people who were going to the courts. We have seen how the authorities at Mile II were even denying home cooked food to our people. There are many other injustices that we can continue to talk about.
The UDP will continue to say that the trials and the subsequent verdicts that put our great leader and his co accused persons as well as our other supporters to prison, were just a farce and travesty of justice. But they were also a direct reflection worsening governance and human rights situation in The Gambia. Currently the party is talking to our lawyers and we will accordingly inform you of our next line of action.
We thank all those who stood by us in one way or the other during that difficult and trying times, especially The Gambians in diaspora, the international community, the lawyers, the media, the gallant party members and militants, the families of the victims, especially the Darboe families, other political party leaders, to name but a few.
Meanwhile, on our part, we as a party are making sure that struggle that these great heroes and heroines started is continued without fear.
We will not concede or mortgage our rights to Yahya Jammeh. I am urging you all not to be discouraged or deterred.
The battle against tyranny; the battle against human rights violations; the battle against self-perpetuation; the battle against dictatorship, surely we will win. We should never be give up. Rather we should tighten our individual and collective belts to continue with the battle until we come out victorious by uprooting dictatorship from The Gambia.
The party leader has further directed that we should not allow self-pity. Instead we should show to dictator Jammeh and his group that they cannot dampen our morale.
The UDP renews its commitment to the opposition parties’ proposal and demands for electoral and constitutional reform in The Gambia.
For the past four elections, Yahya Jammeh has been able to return to power not because he is popular but because the electorate is intimidated in many ways, and on the other hand he made the people to believe that if they do not vote for him, jins will vote for him, and many are also with the view that he will win as result of the failure of the opposition parties to come together.
I must say that all of you must resist any form of intimidation. All of you must reject Yaya Jammeh right away. He has failed The Gambians woefully.
What we know in his regime is no meaningful development, poor human right records, international isolation, rampant corruption, misused of public funds, flamboyant life style, nepotism, enforced disappearance, poverty, lack of employment opportunities resulting to the mass exodus of our youths to Europe, etc.etc.
Therefore, there is no other option for Gambians but alternative Government. UDP can offer you the best option. That is very possible should the vast majority that believed in charge, reject Jammeh and APRC. Indeed you can.
The people should not have the notion that without coalition, change is impossible though it is important. UDP firmly belief that political alliance is an added advantage and that is why it had been in alliance with other parties.
I want to tell you that the UDP will continue to engage all the opposition parties to come together despite our differences in ideologies. The UDP’s position has all along been a party led coalition arrangement to defeat the APRC. We will work with all the parties on this to make sure that we reach a consensus on the matter.
With only four months to the elections, this is the time to intensify the efforts to bring everyone under one roof to discuss the coalition option and the modalities for this. This is the demand of our time. It is the demand of The Gambian people.
In accordance with the UDP constitution, the party goes to congress to elect its leader and executive members. Lawyer Ousainou Darboe was re-elected at Basse congress as the party Leader and Secretary General. I was elected as the first female deputy party leader and Deputy Secretary General. Aji Yamundow Jaye Yarboe was also elected as the first female deputy National President.
The party central committee receives, considers and approves applications for presidential candidate. The party selection committee chaired by the party National President does the selection. The party will follow the due process to name its presidential candidate.
Together we raise the golden yellow flag higher and higher for the new Gambia.
The Gambia that you and I and everyone else will live in peace and security.
The Gambia that arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, imprisonment and enforced disappearance will not be the order of the day.
The Gambia that all public servants can work freely under the dictates of the law and stipulated regulations.
The Gambia that justice, democracy and the rule of law will be enjoyed by all and sundry.
The Gambia that will be called as it used to be The Republic of The Gambia, not the so called Islamic Republic of The Gambia.
The Gambia that the Muslims and Christians alike will enjoy the religious freedom and tolerance.
The Gambia that will give you a president as the servant of the people, not a Mansa or king.
The Gambia that will give you a president that will respect and treat all ethnic groups as one people.
The Gambia that will give you a president, who will safeguard the respect the women deserves.
The Gambia that will give employment opportunities for the youths to combat the disastrous migration to Europe through backway.
The Gambia that will give us food security, good health facilities and services.
The Gambia that will give you quality and relevant education with academic freedom.
The Gambia that will promote press freedom to international standard.
The Gambia that will create conducive business environment to promote both local and foreign investments.
The Gambia that will be high on the world sporting map.
The Gambia that will be the smiling face of Africa and the world at large.
Now if you want that Gambia, can I see you up and say this after me:
FREE LAWYER DARBOE AND OTHER UDP MEMBERS;
PRODUCE THE BODY OF SOLO SANDENG;
CONDUCT INDEPENDENT INVISTIGATION ON THE TORTURE AND MUDER OF SOLO SANDENG;
CONDUCT INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION ON THE TORTURE OF ALL UDP MEMBERS;
FREE AMADOU SANNEH;
PRODUCE KANYIBA KANYI;
CREDIBLE ELECTORAL REFORMS NOW
Long Live the United Democratic Party
Long Live The Gambia
Down with dictatorship
Thank you all
May God bless you.
The message from the UDP, as well as all the other opposition parties is clear : Yaya Jammeh can be defeated at the polls, with or without electoral reform, if Gambians are ready and up to the task.
It is also clear, that barring any unforseen future circumstances, the UDP will contest next presidential elections, with or without electoral reform. This therefore, is the position of the entire official Gambian opposition.
I think it is fair to say that those who hold a contradictory position on elections, as a viable option for change, with or without reforms, should disassociate themselves from the opposition parties…
And given that Yaya Jammeh also propagates the false claim that no elections can remove him, it will be equally fair to say that all who propagate this falsehood (that elections without electoral reforms are a waste of time) are actually serving as cheerleaders for Yaya Jammeh, because that is exactly what he wants Gambian voters to believe…Hence, his obstinate determination and refusal to carry out the reforms that are needed..
So, if you say ‘NO’ to elections without reforms, you know where you should belong and it’s not in our opposition ranks because “Wolf in sheep clothing” will be exposed for all to see…
There is nothing wrong about Mrs Secka’s analysis. Darboe had made the same lamentation about voter apathy.
We can debate about the root cause of voter apathy unendlessly.
I think my understanding of Mrs Secka’s courageous speech, is that the fight to dislodge the dictatorship, will continue to be fought at different levels. One of these are elections and here I think the PDOIS, NRP or GDC must take the lead.
UDP must continue to fight for electoral reforms, release of Darboe &Co. and the release of Solo’s body for a dignified burial. The fate of UDP must be tied to the fate of Solo and the whole executive members languishing in jail. Anything else would be seen by supporters as non credible.