Delegates of the party from across the country were joined by representatives of other opposition parties including the National Reconciliation Party leader Hamat Bah, GPP and GMC. PDOIS sent a statement which was read at the meeting.
Speaking at the rally, UDP secretary general Ousainou Darboe, said in 1996 some Gambians who believed that the country should return to its democratic roots came together and formed the UDP. He paid tribute to the people “who lost their lives during the struggle”.
He alleged that the 27 September 1996 presidential election was “won” by the UDP but was rigged by the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission and given to the APRC. He said his party wants to see a more independent and assertive Independent Electoral Commission.
Mr Darboe, one of the most distinguished lawyers in the country, claimed opposition supporters in The Gambia have suffered more than black under the white supremacist Apartheid regime in South Africa.
On the topical issue of illegal youth migration to Mediterranean Europe, Mr Darboe said he did not support the ‘back way’ phenomenon but admitted that it is a common, national problem that should be discussed in relation to youth employment in the country.
He said the government should rein in unbridled spending and put the money in a revolving fund scheme to train youth on employable skills.
NRP’s Hamat Bah observed that 18 years “is a small time in the life of any party” and concurred with the UDP leader that being in the opposition in Gambian politics is “hell”. He lauded Mr Darboe for maintaining general cohesion in his party despite the people with different interests who came together to form the party in 1996.
He said Mr Darboe made huge personal sacrifices to lead the UDP as he had a lucrative practice and was among the four leading lawyers at the time. He paid tribute to some of Mr Darboe’s lieutenants who lost their jobs and their properties in commissions of enquiry.
Aji Amie Secka, the national secretary of the UDP Women’s Wing, said at the time of establishing their party “things were very hot because at that time human rights and democracy were not there”. She opined that the UDP is The Gambia’s party of the future and that it will win the 2016 plebiscite.]]>