By Alagie Manneh
President Adama Barrow has called on his Coalition members to remain united on the task ahead to deliver “what has never been achieved in the country after the unprecedented change of government by the ballot box”.
The president was speaking at Talinding Buffer Zone Saturday when he presided over the first anniversary celebration of the Coalition’s success at last year’s polls.
The first meeting since that landmark election by the Coalition was attended by thousands of supporters who turned out to cheer and listen to the speeches of the leaders of the group that came together to dislodge Jammeh from power.
President Adama Barrow said the day marked an important day in the annals of Gambian history.
“It was on this day,” he said, ”that this nation took a stand and liberate itself from politics of fear, intimidation, division and embrace hope, diversity, respect for human dignity and rule of law.”
Reflecting on the past year, the president said the change that took place in The Gambia has been “both decisive and dramatic”, adding that “never again shall The Gambia return to the dark days of mismanagement, and unconstitutional rule.”
According to him, it was down to the determination of Gambians “that today, we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy based on justice, freedom, equality and fraternity.”
He said that the “glorious victory” did not just fall from the sky, and paid tribute to the “huge number” of individuals, in and outside The Gambia, who “contributed greatly to the success of a national struggle for democracy and good governance”.
The president thanked the Coalition leaders for their courage to set aside “personal ambition in favour of national interest” by uniting to support his candidature for president during the convention.
He reiterated his promise to bring development to every Gambian, irrespective of political affiliation or tribe, and announced that his government’s National Development Plan 2018-2021 has been validated, and it aims, among other things to create “decent” jobs for the youths.
Foreign Affairs Minister and UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, who said they were celebrating the end of a brutal rule and dictatorship in The Gambia, posited: “Today, we are celebrating the election of Adama Barrow as the President of the Republic of The Gambia and the end of extrajudicial killings. We are also celebrating the entrenchment of the rule of law, constitutionalism, and democracy.”
Darboe likened Barrow to Prophet Moses, who freed his people from the Egyptian pharaoh’s tyranny.
“We have a Moses, who we all believe will take us to the blessed land of freedom, and that Moses is Adama Barrow. We were like the children of Israel, who under the pharaoh, suffered. Yahya Jammeh was our pharoah and Adama Barrow our Moses.
Vice President Fatoumatta Jallow appealed to Coalition leaders to always put The Gambia first and walk hand-in-glove to attain desired goals for the country. Other speakers included Mai Fatty of GMC, Hamat Bah of NRP and Omar Jallow of PPP. A notable absentee was Halifa Sallah of PDOIS while Isatou Touray, independent, was said to have travelled out of the country.