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City of Banjul
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Letters: On the UDP legal tussle

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Dear editor,

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It seems that from a legal stand point the UDP may have “a mountain to climb” in trying to expel Sherifo Sonko, Chairman of the Brikama Area Council, for the following reasons:-

1. Sonko’s letter is clearly written by a good lawyer and the first principle of FAIRNESS is that no one should be condemned without being given an opportunity to be heard. This is as basic as A, B, C – whether it be in Criminal, Civil or Administrative Law – and extends to political parties, sports clubs, etc. So a failure by UDP to give Sonko an opportunity to be heard will, in a court of law, invalidate the decision to expel him.

2. Sonko’s second point is that the constitution of the UDP has not been followed when the decision to expel him was made. All organisations must follow their policies and rules, just as State bodies have to follow the law. Again this is basic. Sonko, who has been a member of the UDP for 24 years and clearly knows its rules states that “I do not believe that a party I have belonged to for so long can take decisions of this sort without confronting a member with the allegations before a decision is made”. If the UDP has not followed its own policies, procedures and constitution in expelling Sonko, the court will invalidate the expulsion.

3. Sonko’s third point is a powerful one and a cornerstone of democratic principles. How can an official, elected directly by the electorate, be chucked out of office just because a dozen executive members of a political party disagree with him? That is totally undemocratic and it was Jammeh who brought that law in to punish anyone opposed to him in the APRC. It is ironic that the UDP should use an undemocratic Yahya Jammeh law against a man who has been a member of the UDP for 24 years – and during that time opposed Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship. The UDP may be correct on this as a matter of law, but using that undemocratic Jammeh law stinks as a matter of principle.

So, what happens next
UDP may stick to its guns, say that it followed all its rules and procedures – and go to court to enforce its decision to expel Sonko. That could take a long time – more so in the Age of Corona when the courts are closed. The UDP might decide to re-take the decision again following proper procedures – and that will take a long-time too.

It seems that there is no easy and quick way for the UDP to expel Chairman Sonko before the next Presidential elections in 2021 – which really is what this is all about. This is a tussle between UDP-Leader Lawyer Darboe & his “son” Ex-UDP President Barrow, both aspirant candidates in the 2021 Presidential Elections. Sonko is being kicked out of the UDP because he backs Barrow – and clearly Barrow will use the State apparatus to ensure that Sonko is not removed extra-judicially, i.e. through demonstrations by Darboe supporters since Brikama is a strong
Darboe power-base.

Dida Halake

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