The leader of the United Democratic Party has apologised for “an error of judgment” to accord former justice minister Babadingding Jorbateh the honour of speaking on a UDP stage.
The incident, which happened at the party’s Saruja rally, was widely condemned by Gambians since Mr Jobarteh has been accused of torture during the Jammeh era.
But in a statement on the matter, Ousainu Darboe said he took full responsibility for the error. His statement reads in full:
“On Saturday 25th September 2021, the United Democratic Party had a well-organised and well-attended political rally in Saruja in the Central River Region of the republic of the Gambia and on Sunday some UDP members held fruitful consultations with villages in the vicinity.
On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the UDP I wish to thank the CRR Regional Executive, the National Organising Committee and the Lower and Upper Fulladu West Constituencies Executive Committees and may I single out for praise the National Assembly Member for Upper Fulladu West Hon. Dawda K. Jawara for all his hard work and for realising an excellent event.
However, since then an unscripted moment on stage has threatened to blemish what was by several accounts a successful political meeting of the UDP and to detract from the tremendous work that the CRR wing of the Party has invested in the region. The impromptu appearance of Mr. Lamin Jobarteh (former AG of The Gambia) and his announcement of joining the UDP was not scheduled nor authorised by the National Executive Committee.
Some members and friends of the UDP have openly expressed their views and concerns on social media and the Party leadership has duly noted their reactions.
As mentioned before the appearance was unscheduled and given the informal nature of events of this kind the masters of ceremonies need to have latitude to progress the event to a satisfactory conclusion. So it was within that context that his appearance happened.
Whilst it is pointless to blame anyone, with hindsight it was an error of judgement to accord Mr. Jorbateh the honour of speaking on a UDP stage.
As a victim and as the Party leader of the UDP I take full responsibility for this lapse in judgement and hereby unreservedly apologise to our members and the Gambian people at large. I wish to reassure all compatriots of the unwavering resolve of the UDP to see that justice will be done without fear or favour ill-will or affection to all.
No member can rely on the UDP for support or protection, because human rights violations are not only against the law of the land, but against the values and principles of the UDP.
Furthermore, UDP believes that a socio-political system in which there is no answerability for one’s actions and inactions is a dysfunctional one and by implication will be unable to sustain the rule of law, good governance and true practice of democracy.”