By Omar Bah
The opposition United Democratic Party has described President Adama Barrow’s comments against it and its leader Ousainu Darboe as “ugly and unbecoming of a head of state”.
Addressing NPP supporters on Tuesday at a political rally marking the opening of the ruling party’s political bureau in Jarra Soma, President Barrow went on a tirade against the person of Ousainu Darboe and described the opposition party as the biggest threat to the country’s national security.
Reacting to the president’s comments in a statement shared with The Standard yesterday, the UDP wrote: “Whatever the president’s motivations are for these statements, whether it is bluster or an intention to target the UDP for persecution, there should be no doubt that those who fought and defeated the tyranny of Yahya Jammeh with their bare hands and righteous determination will do everything in their power to forestall the reconstitution of dictatorship in this country.
“A statement designating a legally registered political party that is the biggest in the country as posing the gravest national security threat to the country has crossed a line. It is a statement that is not without consequences because a national security threat is a profound designation that triggers a course of action. If the aim of the president is to hope that this irresponsible statement will somehow cower UDP, we assert that we are more determined to defend our rights than at any time in our history.”
The UDP urged those holding national security portfolios to advise the president on “this specific false declaration directed at the party”.
“They should tell him that the illusions of dictatorship he is attempting in this statement have the potential to harm national security, not a lawful political party that is serving the Gambian people diligently and honorably with the responsibilities they have been assigned to do,” it added.
On the president’s declaration that he will direct the police to violate court orders, the UDP said: “We categorically condemn this affront to a coequal branch of the government. The judiciary is a separate and integral part of any functioning democracy, and by declaring intent to wilfully and capriciously violate orders emanating from the courts, the president is effectively saying he is going to abandon the rule of law in his vindictive pursuit of innocent UDP members.
“Executive lawlessness cannot and should never be tolerated in our country. Less is lost on the president, but more likely, he is ignorant of the fact that defending the constitution is a legal obligation of every citizen who believes in the constitution. A head of state cannot violate the constitution, and he certainly must never order the police, who are sworn duty bearers to uphold the constitution, to violate their oaths. The police are not a personal vendetta-executing agency. Their job is to enforce the law at all times, without fear or favor. We urge the leadership of the police to respect the judiciary, uphold the law, and resist being made pawns in the potentially dangerous path the president is taking the nation.
“We wish to reiterate our party’s commitment to hold on to our cherished values of peace, justice, and democracy. We believe in the supremacy of the rule of law as the governing principle for our beloved Gambia. We will break no laws in the exercise of our fundamental rights. However, we will not for a single moment tolerate even a single attempt at lawlessness being directed at us under any guise. That is not a threat. It is a promise.”