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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Re: The people deserve respect – UDP Media respond to Minister Queen Jammeh

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By Yankuba Darboe

This is a rejoinder to The Standard newspaper publication of 12th October 2022 under the caption: “The people deserve respect and to be told nothing, except the truth – Hon Lamin Queen Jammeh responds to UDP leader and secretary general.”

We could not agree more. It is an irony, that Lamin Queen Jammeh would supposedly preach truth, but in the same breath utter a falsehood to and disrespect the same audience. For there is no greater disrespect than dismiss people’s genuine concerns and their sincerely felt hardships.

The most basic requirement of any public discourse is to first and foremost have a good grasp of the issue at hand and to acknowledge the context within which an argument is made. Mr Jammeh unfortunately showed neither understanding, nor sincerity in his misleading piece dubbed a response to UDP leader and secretary general. But we expect no less from a man who felt he owes his existence to another man and therefore owes such a patron his unquestioned loyalty.

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Here is a man who propped up a murderous tyrant who kept an iron grip over Gambians for over two decades, how ironical that the same man would today pretend to lecture Gambians on what democracy is or why we need to be grateful to a single individual for our God-given rights. The likes of Lamin Queen Jammeh do not see themselves as public servants but rather as dependent sycophants who must, at all costs, proof their loyalty to their masters. The same loyalty he showed Jammeh while Darboe and his colleagues in the UDP were fighting to end the murderous tyranny he stood by and defended without compunction.

After switching sides and being rewarded with an elevation to minister of information, one would expect that Lamin Queen Jammeh, in his newfound role, would be the most appreciative of information and the power it wields, but sadly it appears not so. The same mindset that made him turn a blind eye to the abuse of his fellow citizens and propping up a dictatorship, is the same mindset we are seeing on display, but we would like to take this opportunity to educate Mr Jammeh on what he needs to know when it comes to politics and political expression.

The UDP is a registered political entity, and as such, the party is duty bound to set any record straight, especially one that seeks disinformation and lies to paint the party in bad light.

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The party’s response to the president’s misleading statements is exactly in fulfilment of that responsibility owed to posterity and the party’s current supporters.

In that response, UDP pointed to the fact that Adama Barrow was once part of the UDP and should know better than to attribute clandestine activity to the UDP. That was the essence of that reference. But unfortunately, and sadly for The Gambia, the state’s information minister either cannot discern that meaning or sought to deliberately twist it to say Adama Barrow therefore must be an unmatched expert authority on UDP. But using his own logic for argument’s sake, if Barrow knows everything there is to know about UDP, maybe he should cite an instance in the past when UDP used clandestine measures in their fight against Jammeh’s two-decade tyranny. If UDP indeed hides behind pseudo names and organisations to foster its political agenda, there must be at least one instance of such occurrence in the party’s quarter century of existence and Barrow being so familiar with UDP should therefore be able to furnish the Gambian people with such instances. Better yet, Mr Jammeh can seek such information from Barrow and furnish the public with it.

The point of that statement is to state categorically that UDP, as an institution, had never shied away from signing its name on the dotted line whenever it endorses an agenda. But both Lamin Queen Jammeh and his boss President Adama Barrow know this fact and that is not their point of contention. The only justification they use to say UDP was behind the latest protests in New York was captured by Mr Jammeh in his piece. He wrote: “The Gambia is relatively a very small country in terms of numbers where everybody tends to know anybody.

To this effect, one can safely conclude that the partisanship of almost all the ring leaders in these anti-government organisations remains an open secret and here in is laid the truth of what President Barrow had said.”

It is a tragedy and an indictment of the author’s twisted sense of democracy. But it is unsurprising that Mr Jammeh and his ilk would take the unfortunate position that being a UDP supporter makes one less Gambian. There is a distinction between the UDP as a legal entity and individual UDP members and supporters. Because a certain Gambian citizen has openly declared their support for the UDP does not in any way diminish their status and rights as Gambian citizens. That being the case, they have every right to align themselves with any cause they believe in even if such a cause may not be championed or initiated by their party. This is where the distinction between party supporters and UDP as an institution comes in.

But as pointed out earlier in this piece, Mr Jammeh has a mindset that assumes that any citizen who has any reason to dissent is unworthy of full citizenship. In the minds of men like Mr Jammeh, citizens owe unquestioned loyalty and absolute submission to the whims of one man rather than to the laws of the land. In their mind, dissension equals ingratitude and is an attempt at instability. This is unfortunate.

If UDP has cause to organise a protest, the party would announce their justification for such and call its supporters to join in and there is no gain saying everyone knows what the response to such a call would be, there is no need to pretend to be someone else or do so clandestinely. We are proud of the earned loyalty of our members and supporters.

The rest of Mr Jammeh’s piece is unworthy of our response, nothing less is expected of men like him than groveling at the feet of their benefactors. For over two decades, while Yahya Jammeh abused, raped, murdered, and trampled on Gambians’ rights, Lamin Queen Jammeh was among the coterie of men who were out telling the unsuspecting Gambians that Jammeh was a Godsend, pointing to white elephant projects as reason enough for people to submit to the twisted will of Jammeh which they misleading portray as the will of God while turning people away from expressing their views on the police state that was forced on them. If Lamin Queen Jammeh chooses to be that same advocate for Barrow while citizens are struggling daily to feed their families, let that be a battle between him and his conscience.

As to ANM Ousainu Darboe, the evidence and facts laid bare by the TRRC are here for all to see.

Gambians now know, as a matter of fact, that Jammeh was the abusive tyrant that Darboe and his colleagues in the UDP called him out to be. Jammeh apologists back then labeled UDP as people bent on fomenting instability, but when it was all said and done, it was Jammeh who rolled out armoured vehicles and soldiers armed to the teeth onto the streets seeking to thwart the will of Gambians. Mr Darboe and the UDP have earned their badge of honour as champions and advocates of democracy and the rule of law, history has already bore testament to that fact. So, if Lamin Queen Jammeh has any lectures to deliver on democracy, let him find another audience and not seek to mislead vulnerable and unsuspecting Gambians all in a veiled attempt to remain in the good graces of his benefactor.

After convincing themselves of winning a landslide, less than a year in, the Barrow camp has shown an unhealthy obsession with the UDP, makes one wonder how comfortable are they with their “win”?

We ask you, in the name of Gambians who are struggling daily, please shift your focus to governance and render life-changing services to them so that they may get some relief. They are not all UDP supporters you know.

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