By Omar Bah
Ousainu Darboe, leader of the United Democratic Party, has assured the people of Foni that a UDP government will have no reason to isolate them.
Addressing a group of nearly 800 people from all the five constituencies of Foni who went to pledge their support to the UDP at the party’s Manjai bureau on Saturday, Darboe said: “A UDP government will treat all Gambians equally irrespective of tribe or political affiliation and Foni will not and cannot be an exception. As far as I am concerned, there cannot be a Gambia without Foni.” The visiting Foni natives were mobilised by the UDP Wisconsin Chapter headed by Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD fellow at the Northwestern University in US.
“A UDP government will focus on Foni not for political reasons but because you are part of The Gambia. We will not use Foni as a political tool and this is not going to be an empty promise just get your votes. I can assure you,” he noted.
Foni is a stronghold of former president, Yahya Jammeh, and since the former strongman was ousted, the region has struggled to accept the change.
But the former vice president insisted that Foni is part and parcel of the country, deserving equal treatment from any leader.
“If I say Foni, I am referring to all the tribes living in Foni. However, I want to emphasise that you cannot have a Gambia without Foni. That is not possible. We are all equal in this country. So anyone who comes to Foni to try to divide you based on tribal politics, don’t entertain it, tell them you are going to follow and vote for the person who can transform this country and not based on the fact that that person is from Foni or is a Jola,” he said
He said the UDP has always contested elections in Foni and has never had the impression that the political support in the area is one-sided. He expressed his gratitude to the party’s Wisconsin chapter and urged them to keep up the momentum ahead of December.
Lamin Keita, who led the whole process, said the party’s chapter is coordinating with the party supporters in all the five constituencies in Foni to help them sensitise people to get more involved in politics and to support the party.
“We believe that Foni is very essential in this coming election because people believe that Foni is a no-go area for the UDP. So our role is to ensure that we made them understand that the UDP is not an enemy to any district or region in this country and Foni cannot be an exception,” he said.
He said more importantly they feel that Foni is “more vulnerable to voter fraud and we want to work towards preventing that from happening in December. We want this election to be free and fair – we don’t want non-Gambians to be interfering with our elections”.
Mr Keita urged the country’s intellectuals to join the UDP to save The Gambia from sinking, adding that “If the country’s intellectuals sit on the fence and allow the country to fall into wrong hands, they will be held responsible for betraying the future generation”.