By Omar Bah
The governing National People’s Party, NPP, last night elected a new executive committee at a heated congress. Delegates clashed over the choice of deputy party leader with Suku Singhateh having been persuaded to withdraw in favor of Demba Sabally. Another contentious position was deputy spokesperson with Essa Dampha having been persuaded to withdraw in favor of Seedy Njie. Mr Dampha confirmed his withdrawal to The Standard yesterday, saying he left the congress the moment he withdrew his candidacy.
The Standard will publish the full list of elected executives tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the NPP administrative secretary has described as totally “unjustifiable and unfair” claims that President Adama Barrow is sliding the country back to its dark days.
The president has been heavily criticised by opponents and human rights activists who fear he is gradually sliding the country back to autocratic rule using the playbook of Yahya Jammeh by using state machinery to silence critics.
But reacting to the claims on Tuesday on the side-lines of the NPP’s congress, Mambanyick Njie said that assessment is “absolutely unfair”.
“President Barrow has never attempted to act like a dictator and he is not planning to be one. He will never be one because he is the most tolerant president in Africa. The things that have been said and done in this country against him and his government and gone unpunished are not happening even in America. So, if people are saying that Barrow wants to take us to the old days that is incorrect,” he told The Standard.
He said contrary to what use to be obtained in the past, Gambians now have the freedom to go to radio and television stations to say whatever they want.
“But that doesn’t also mean that the country will be allowed to generate into lawlessness where people will do whatever they want or even threaten the security of this country and get away with it. That is never going to happen. If you do anything that is considered a threat to national security, the police will arrest you,” he said.
He said the NPP government will continue to promote national unity, good governance and respect for human rights and rule of law.
Reacting to criticisms that Barrow lacks leadership quality, Njie charged: “That is their opinion but over 50% of Gambians voted for him in 2021 and until they decide otherwise in another election, he remains the right man to lead this country because Gambians have unequivocally expressed that position.
“So, people can continue to express their views and concerns but that doesn’t take away the fact that Barrow is a true democrat and completely different from Yahya Jammeh. He doesn’t respond to critics, arrest or incarcerate people for unjust reasons. Even those who don’t wish him well will acknowledge that he is a democrat in their bedrooms,” he added.
Asked why it took the NPP this long to organise its congress, Njie said: “We didn’t want to organize a national congress at the time without first having a village, ward, constituency and regional congresses because we want to operate completely different from the other parties. We just don’t want to jump and organise a national congress without taking care of our grassroot politics.”
Turning to the congress, Njie said during the three days event, the party will elect new executives, review its constitution, audit financial statements and adopt a code of conduct that will compel members of the party to respect the principles of the party.
“The code of conduct provides punishment for members who violate the party’s policy of zero tolerance for insults against its opponents and other provisions that deal with good practice. We want to establish a code of conduct for all party members and militants to ensure that there is maximum discipline in the party henceforth,” Njie said.
He advised the members and supporters of the party to avoid discussing internal party politics or caricaturing each other in public.
Commenting on the government’s overall performance in 2021 under the NPP, Njie said though there are still some challenges, the NPP government has done extremely well over the past 24 months under the global economic challenges especially in the areas of infrastructure and social development.
“We will do our level best in the next four years to ensure that we convince Gambians to elect even if not President Barrow but an NPP candidate in 2026,” he said.