By Abdoulie John
United Democratic Party (UDP) leader hopes the National Assembly Members voted into post-Jammeh Parliament will put the country first in serving the interests of the electorate.
“We indeed elected the candidates under party tickets, but we expect them to represent all of us as a nation, irrespective of party affiliation,” Lawyer Ousainou Darboe says in a statement read out by the UDP deputy President Mariam Secka at a press briefing held at the party headquarters in Manjai Kunda on Thursday.
The Gambia’s largest political party emerged victorious in the just concluded parliamentary elections with a comfortable majority. A total of 10 political parties took part in the April 6 elections in which the UDP won 31 out of the 44 seats it had contested. The victory put an end to two decades of ousted President Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) dominance. The APRC won only 5 seats as compared to its over 40 seats in the last Parliament.
Mr. Darboe, who also doubles as the Gambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, made it clear that elected deputies will ‘represent the interests of all citizens and residents’ in delivering on their mandate.
“We look forward to working closely with coalition partners and others to support President Adama Barrow’s reform and development programmes,” UDP leader emphasises.
After going through more than two decades of brutal dictatorship, expectations are high that the Gambia will soon return to its former status as the Oasis of Democracy. Lawyer Darboe too wants to see the former British colony becoming a beacon of democratic enlightenment.
“I predict that great parliamentarians will emerge from this batch of National Assembly Members. I expect them to scrutinise the executive with vigilance and competency, tempered by positivism and a mission for cooperation and united action,” Ousainou Darboe adds.
Meanwhile, one of the country’s rare organic intellectuals re-echoes similar sentiments in an Op-ed widely circulated on social media.
“If truth be told, this National Assembly is the best parliament the Gambia has ever produced since independence. It is indeed the dream team and for that matter they cannot fail the nation,” Madi Jobarteh wrote.
Mr. Jobarteh thinks the newly elected members are far from being given carte blanche. He says the elected NAMs cannot claim ignorance in any way about what the Gambia needs and where it should go.