By Alagie Manneh
Following what many describe as a well-run, modern campaign leading to his electoral success as mayor of Kanifing municipality, speculation in the political grapevine intensified that the UDP was grooming Talib Bensouda as a future presidential candidate.
When The Standard met with Mayor-elect Bensouda yesterday evening, we asked him to respond to the speculation and he commented: “These are just pure rumours from excited supporters. The idea of being president seems very nice from the outside but I can tell everybody that I have tasted politics. I have tasted being mayor and it’s already a big burden on me and I have not even assumed office yet.
“I cannot imagine what it’s like to be a president. I have no presidential ambition. I want this president to do well and I want to support him in anyway. I think people should focus on how to make Adama Barrow more successful and how to help him do his job better, rather than flirting around about who should probably be the next president…”
“UDP has many mayors, many chairpersons and many ministers and many young promising leaders in the youth wing. So, there are many people who can probably be [presidential] candidates. The mayorship is a big burden for me and a big excitement for the supporters. As it is, the UDP has many promising leaders. My sole focus is how to fulfill my campaign promises.”
Reacting to the outcome of the election, the 32-year-old new mayor said: “The outcome was delightful. I am happy and I think all Gambians should be happy because it was a very democratic election and the only winner is the Gambian people, and our democracy.”
He also expressed his readiness to work with any “development-oriented” individual, regardless of party affiliation.
“I am more interested in development politics and that is why I told the new councillors that they should not do partisan politics but they should do development politics. At this point in time, the biggest win for UDP would be if it can show a huge difference to what APRC was doing in KM. To show people we are the right party, let us do development politics. On inauguration day, I will be wearing white. I have UDP in my blood but I am mayor for all.”
The mayor reiterated his promises to “develop the roads, markets, boost the municipal economy and create jobs. I want to create a better living environment. And when people see the difference between my municipality and what they have been living under – the APRC for so many years – I think that will speak for itself and we don’t need to advertise anymore. UDP will be a brand.”