The Gambia’s Conundrum: Is it the UDP that misread Barrow or Barrow misread the UDP?

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By Musa Bah

There is a complex situation in The Gambia currently as there is a lot of argument; push and pull and debates on the issue of President Adama Barrow staying for five years or stepping down at the end of the three years that is in the MoU.

Last week, Mrs Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, the Chairperson of the Coalition 2016, which spearheaded the election of President Adama Barrow into office, revealed that they (the Coalition partners) had met with the president and agreed to extend his term to five years.

This meeting though was not attended by the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDIOS), both parties being key stakeholders in the Coalition 2016.

Now, the issue is this: was it the UDP that misread Barrow or was it that Barrow misread the UDP?
It is clear that in the beginning, the United Democratic Party held firmly that ‘Barrow is their Barrow’, such that when some folks spoke of the three year agreement and said that it should be respected, the Secretary General and Leader of the United Democratic Party, Lawyer OusainouDarboe came out to say that whoever wished to compel Barrow to step down after three years, will be dragged to court if need be because the three years is unconstitutional.

When Barrow openly supported and campaigned for the UDP in the National Assembly elections, the general membership of the party were pleased to accept such support and saw nothing wrong with it as we did not hear any of them complain.

Again, Barrow gave fifty-seven vehicles to the National Assembly Members from an anonymous donor but again it was seen by them as normal and nothing wrong with it.

There was an outcry from many quarters in the country but the UDP defended Barrow and his action.

It is clear that at the time, the UDP saw Barrow as one of them and thus thought that that would give them an edge over their opponents.

In fact, he was described as a Moses for the Gambia.

When the UDP swept the polls in the National Assembly elections, Lawyer Darboe was seen in a video singing ‘Lawyer Darboe ye bankoo taa’.

When however the Barrow Youth Movement for National Development was formed and it started to look like Barrow is eyeing a second term in office, the UDP started raising their eyebrows.

It then dawned on them that Barrow would be fiercely independent of them in seeking to run in his own right to win another term in office.

They started sending innuendos his way. He retaliated and well, the rest is history, as they say.

Mr Adama Barrow also seems to have grossly misread the UDP as he might have thought that he would be the automatic flagbearer of the party in subsequent elections.

He was fully confident that the party would back his bid to the presidency for a second term. This can clearly be seen in his statement that ‘talking of any other person as the UDP candidate while he is president is a form of betrayal’.

The other pointer is the fact that in the beginning, most of the appointments into the government were UDP sympathizers. This also shows that Barrow was of the view that the UDP will stand by him come rain or sunshine.

However, when the UDP held their congress and amended some of their laws, the Barrow camp saw that as a slap on the face and a ploy to prevent him from contesting on a UDP ticket. He broke ranks and went nuclear.

Here we are today with Barrow adamant that he would not step down till 2021 and leaving room for him to contest again and many Gambians (including the UDP in some people’s view) insist that he should step down after three years.

But it seems the UDP is finding it a little difficult or awkward to come out openly and take a stance against the three years MoU considering the stance of their Secretary General and Leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe before the divorce with Barrow.

My conclusion however is this: whoever is right or wrong, it is the ordinary citizen who will suffer the consequence.

It is the ordinary person who will be affected more than any other and as such, the people have to know what is good for them and start looking out for themselves.