By Omar Bah
At least three members of the Gambia For 5 Years and Peace Building, a group established to defend the constitutional five-year mandate of President Adama Barrow, have officially joined the UDP yesterday. The group is widely seen to be pro– government set up to counter the 3 Years Jotna movement who demanded Barrow to keep his promise and quit after three years.
The former officials of the group, who met the UDP leader and other top officials at the party’s Manjai bureau, also called on President Barrow to honorably resign to avoid being humiliated in the December presidential election.
The defectors are the movement’s former assistant secretary general, Abdou Willan and national youth mobiliser, Omar Sanyang. The trio claimed the group’s former vice president, Lamin Jammeh, has also joined the UDP but he was not present at the event.
Explaining their decision to join the UDP, Mr Willan said he has realized that President Barrow is losing track of the purpose he was elected into office.
He clarified that the movement was only out purely to defend the constitution and not the president but the NPP wanted to turn them into a political organisation.
“Now we have decided to officially join the UDP because we believe it is the only party that can get Gambia out of our predicament. We appeal to President Barrow to respect the promise he made to the Gambian people and resign when his mandate ends,” he said.
The UDP leader, Ousainu Darboe welcomed the three to the party and assured them that all members are equal in the party.
“This is a major political decision that cannot be ignored by people who are going to write the political history of this country, so you are earning yourself a place in the history of this country because you are coming to join the rest of the patriotic Gambians who are going to usher in a new political dispensation that will take into account the views of majority of Gambians,” he said.
Darboe said he is particularly happy that the likes of Mr Willan joining the UDP is sending a “message loud and clear to the ‘Manding phobic’ that ‘Mandinka phobia’ has no place in this country.”
“It demonstrates that the UDP consists of several tribes in this country and those who are on the false track with their Manding phobia haver been shamed that this party is not a Mandinka party,” he said.
The UDP leader however reminded the newcomers and the party supporters that they still have a lot of work to do ahead of December.
“We all have the same values and aspirations – and that remain the same- to ensure we take this country in the direction we want. This is why the UDP doesn’t entertain acrimony – that is why all throughout our political career we preach peace, non-violence and that every Gambian has a right to his or her opinion,” he added.
Darboe said the leadership of the UDP has been very careful of what they say about Gambia For 5 Years because “we believe it is their views and their views must be respected”.
The UDP leader said The Gambia is gradually becoming a drug transit point to the extent that when Gambian travelers go to international airports, they are taken through a thorough search because they suspect you might be carrying drugs.
“Let us redeem our country – let us take this country from these bandits and give it to good Gambians because even during Jammeh’s time, the country was not having such a bad image,” he said. He said instead of the SIS addressing these issues, they are trying to facilitate people to the Barrow camp.
“We have been told that Samsudeen Sarr’s visit to the State House was facilitated by the SIS DG [Ousman Sowe] who should be concerned about other things and not trying to get people to support Adama Barrow. Mr Sowe, I ask you to put your men on duty so that these criminal activities that are taking place in this country can be nabbed. If you don’t, we will know that you are complicit in this because there cannot be incompetence,” he said.
The Standard contacted strong NPP supporter and founding member, Dou Sanno who said while he has no knowledge of the defection of the trio, he knows for sure that the group is still intact. “I know that the Barrow For 5 Years or 2021 is part of other smaller groups in support of the NPP,” he said. Sanno said he is also aware of the UDP propaganda machine which prepares purported defectors for the media. “My message to the defectors to the UDP is that I have been married to that party for 20 years without being blessed with a child and I can guarantee that they too will not have any child in their marriage to the party,” Sanno said rather comically.
Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Barrow For 5 Years movement Ebrima Sorrie Bah, has informed The Standard that he and his colleagues will hold a press conference at Lamin today to clarify issues.