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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Darboe clarifies ‘boycott’ claims

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At a press conference at his law offices in Banjul yesterday, Mr Darboe said: “I read with some surprise The Standard headline ‘UDP MAY BOYCOTT 2016 ELECTIONS’. The story is written by Saikou Jammeh and I am debunking it as false. In fact Saikou Jammeh interviewed me some time ago and said he was writing for a paper that was being published abroad. In fact he told me it was published and gave me the website for me to go through but then I never bothered to do so. It is false and misleading to say that we may boycott the elections. I have been asked this several times and I have said that the decision not to participate in the last local government and National Assembly elections was a decision taken by opposition parties and if and when it is necessary those parties will sit together and decide. I do not think any party will unilaterally take a decision without consulting other parties. This has been my position and I think it is really inaccurate and extremely misleading to publish this with such a big bold headline. This is not the way of conveying things when in fact it never happened.

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“October 11 was the last time I had a call from Mr Jammeh wanting to have an interview and it never happened. In the interview I had with him we certainly talked about the need for electoral reforms but I never said UDP was going to boycott elections. We have people on the ground currently in Niamina and tomorrow they are meeting LRR committee at the bureau in Soma. The Standard has not done justice to us. Today when this is read by the famous Nfally Fadera you can imagine how that is going to cause confusion. This is going to indicate to our partners that the UDP is taking a decision unilaterally and I have never told that to Mr Jammeh. I always record the interview I give and he cannot produce anything to say I have made the statement”.

He added: “I had an interview with Sanna Camara for The Standard and my most incisive comments about the Jammeh administration were ignored.  The intolerance of the regime to the extent they would not allow Mr Buba Baldeh’s corpse into the country. I also talked about the humiliation and non-recognition of Sheriff Dibba the first vice president of The Gambia. He died and it was not even national news. The same thing happened to Sir Alieu Jack the first speaker of independent Gambia. I had said those people were not recognised but The Standard did not publish that story. Why is The Standard doing this?  When you have something incisive and critical about Jammeh you don’t publish it.”

Reacting to Mr Darboe’s comments, the managing director of The Standard, Sheriff Bojang said: “Mr Saikou Jammeh is standing by his story. He said he wrote the facts as they are. Obviously, he is one of the best journalists in The Gambia and he has an impressive pedigree. About Mr Darboe’s other comments, I think he understands that we cannot publish just about everything he or someone else says in our newspaper. Ultimately, the editor reserves the right to publish what he wants. And having read the stories, he mentioned, I think Mr Darboe’s messages were faithfully relayed.”

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