By Omar Bah
Dr Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, a foreign minister under Jammeh who later served as ambassador under Barrow and is now a senior member of the UDP has explained that his party’s delegation visited the Senegalese high commissioner to reinforce relations between the two countries and not to “attack” him as claimed by President Barrow. ???
Addressing a meeting of traditional district and village rulers on Saturday at State House, President Barrow accused Dr Jobe of leading a UDP delegation that went to “attack” the Senegalese high commissioner over purported Senegalese meddling in Gambian politics.
“A delegation was formed headed by top diplomat, Sedat Jobe. They went to the Senegalese ambassador and told him that Senegalese people were meddling in our politics and they want them to stay away. How many ambassadors do we have here but they singled out the Senegalese ambassador and went to attack him,” Barrow said.
The president said Gambians should be wary of directing such comments at Senegal, as the country is The Gambia’s closest neighbour and most strategic geopolitical partner.
But reacting to the president’s comments, Dr Jobe told The Standard last evening: “Barrow has got it all wrong. I can tell you for certain that he was misinformed about the meeting. Indeed, a group of former ambassadors under the leadership of Aji Yamou Secka as the deputy party leader visited the Senegalese ambassador to reinforce the relationship between The Gambia and Senegal.
“We didn’t go there to harass him. We have a very good relationship with Senegal. Because there are many rumours that Senegalese are getting involved in registering for the Gambian election and we thought we should draw his attention to it,” he said.
Dr Jobe said the high commissioner was “even planning to tour the country” on the same matter even before they visited him.
“The UDP recognises the vital role Senegal played in this country in 2016 and we are quite certain all political parties in this country would want to have a harmonious relationship with Senegal and to maintain it in the spirit of Senegambia,” he said.
Dr Jobe said his team intends to visit the British, Nigerian, Guinean, Bissau-Guinean and Malian ambassadors as well as the African Union representative and possibly other diplomatic representatives in the country.
“We will be visiting all the ambassadors who are here so that we can explain to them the political situation in the country. The UDP is not an enemy of the NPP or President Barrow. We are in a democratic country and in the dispensation of that democracy the UDP cannot ignore Senegal,” he said.
He added: “We are very much surprised that the president will take this visit so hard as if he wanted the Senegalese to participate in our election.” ??
Meanwhile, a not-too-happy President Barrow attacked the UDP and its leader Ousainu Darboe – saying the party organises thugs who wear black outfits and go about profiling people.
“You have few people who mobilise themselves going around profiling people to identify who is a Gambian and who is not. Myself, they labelled me saying I’m not Barrow but Barry and I’m from Guinea. This is a very dangerous politics that can bring violence to this country.
“You have not come to power yet, but you organise thugs wearing black outfits and they are attacking people, and taking their papers and telling them they are not Gambians. What kind of people are they? If such people take this country, what they will do to you until the world ends you will never forget,” he warned.
He accused his former political godfather of desperation in his quest to become president.
“However desperate you are to become president, it is not worth some things. We were all in the same party in the past. Why didn’t we see the same bravery then? Why weren’t you beating your chest at the time and why weren’t you telling people they are not citizens in the past? [Now] if anything happens, he [Darboe] calls a press conference saying ‘I will not accept this, I will not accept that’. Why was he not calling those press conferences then? Now, in the space of one year, he is calling more press conferences than he called in 25 years,” Barrow teased.
He accused Darboe of intimidation.
“You are not a president yet you are intimidating. If such a person becomes a president, you will see what he will do to us. We will all be witnesses to it. But [we have to know that ultimately] power resides in the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UDP National Assembly Member for Baddibu Central, Sulayman Saho, described the State House meeting as an attempt by Barrow to coerce the support of the alkalolu and seyfolu. “That is too late. No amount of intimidation will make them support your so-called political adventurism after you yourself already declared that they should not get involved in politics. And why all these threats and bluster from you? These are signs of desperation and lack of confidence. Please resign before you will be humiliated because the traditional authority heads will never be allowed to be used again. Enough is enough, the TRRC has taught us a lot,” Saho said.
He told the traditional rulers to stay clear of politics in accordance with the dictates of the Constitution.
Saho questioned the motive of the president’s pledge to introduce salaries for alkalolu next year when he had failed to do so in the past four years of his presidency. “So who is President Barrow fooling?” he questioned.