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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

ARPC youth leader challenges opposition to ‘political dialogue’

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The Gambia’s opposition had alleged an ‘unlevel playing field’ for vibrant multi-party politics, but the APRC youth leader rubbished the claim. He said he was ready to fight it out with them on an intellectual platform to establish the true political picture of the country. 

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“For me, everything is fine here,” Babou Gaye Sonko, who’s also a nominated National Assembly member, told The Standard.

“There’s no climate that’s unfavourable to the opposition political parties. You know what, if you want the people to vote for you, you have to come out and be with them.”

Babou Gaye was unequivocally unapologetic about the current state of siege of the opposition as witnessed in the recent arrests and prosecution of activists on charges critised in the opposition circle as politically motivated. 

“No politician was arrested unlawfully,” he said. “In every country, there are laws and every citizen should be law-abiding.” 

Quizzed on the denial of permit by the police to opposition parties to hold rallies, the APRC youth leader insisted that the police have the right to deny permit “in the national interest”. 

He was ready to show that the APRC, despite being the incumbent, did go through the legally laid-down procedures to obtain a permit, but he wasn’t as much generously open in stating whether his party was ever denied permit. “If you really want to know that, come to my office,” he added. 

On women

Commenting on the ongoing feminist campaign which calls for political reforms to increase women’s participation in political leadership positions, Babou Gaye said the government had created an enabling environment for women.  

He believed that it was up to the women to seize the prevailing opportunities which, in his view, are unprecedented and unavailable during the former regime. 

“My position is that politics is a battlefield,” he said. “Nothing is stopping women from contesting elections. Both men and women are free to vie for positions.”

 

By Saikou Jammeh

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