ANY CHANGE OF BATON AT UDP CONGRESS?

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By Omar Bah

All eyes will be on the opposition United Democratic Party congress as the party is set to renew the mandate of its current executive or elect a new crop of leaders.

The party spokesperson, Almamy Fanding Taal has confirmed to The Standard that UDP will hold congress next month. However, focus will be on its long-serving leader Ousainu Darboe who has always been the secretary general and party leader since its formation in 1996. But there have been growing calls for him to give way to the party’s younger generation.

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But when asked whether people should expect a change in leadership, Taal said: “It is for the members of the party who will have the mandate and the authority to decide who should lead them. But certainly, we are very happy with the current leadership. However, it would be a culmination of every congress to elect the leaders of the party. We hope as usual, we will come out with distinguished personalities who will lead the party across the board.”

He said during the three days congress, the party’s national treasurer and secretary general will report to members on its activities and financial status.

Taal said the party will extensively discuss its future and more especially on how it will consolidate its National Assembly performance in the upcoming local government elections.

“We will also look at our party’s structures and internal matters and discuss burning issues affecting the country,” he said.

Transition

Taal said his party is very concerned about the country’s slumbering transition.

“The congress will discuss the country’s transition from dictatorship which continues to be a mirage due to the defeat of the constitution in 2020. You cannot transition from a dictatorship when all the tools you have are the making of the dictator,” he said.

He said the congress is not going to be the usual congress because Gambians are living through extraordinary times and extraordinary circumstances which need immediate attention and solutions.

“We will also discuss the slow progress registered in the implementation of the TRRC recommendations. What is of concern, is the absence of coordinated efforts on the part of society including the government, political parties and of course the civil society,” he said.

He added that the process is so far led by government and civil society but political parties seem to be side-lined or are not fully involved in the evolving narratives.

“It would be useful that political parties are engaged in the agenda setting of the TRRC process. The TRRC itself has said that the monitoring and maybe the implementation should be the domain of the National Human Rights Commission but the government seems not to be alive to that responsibility. In fact, I don’t think they have accepted that recommendation in total from the TRRC,” he said.