By Lamin Cham
Following the court’s dismissal of the appeal of Momodou Sabally, the UDP proposed candidate for Busumbula constituency in this weekend’s National Assembly elections, The Standard has learnt that the yellow party will put its campaign juggernaut firmly behind Muhammed Kanteh, an independent candidate.
Although up to the time of going to press the party has not formally released a statement on its position, grassroots mobilisers and constituency officials have told The Standard they will back Kanteh.
“We wanted Sabally as our first choice but we were alive to the fact that the Barrow government would do everything to block his nomination. That is why Kanteh was nominated as an option,” a prominent UDP supporter who does not want to be named said.
UDP campaign manager in the Busumbula, Sulayman Bojang, confirmed to The Standard last evening that both Sabally and Kanteh along with one Mankamang Jawla were proposed by members of the constituency committee to contest the seat.
“We submitted their names to the party’s national executive. Sabally was the first choice but there were fears that the Janneh Commission Report may be used against him. We got a legal opinion suggesting he could be cleared to contest and that’s why we all rallied behind him as the party’s nominee. However, when he was rejected by the IEC, Muhammed Kanteh was encouraged to seek nomination and he was duly nominated as an independent candidate. But the supporters continued to support Mr Sabally right up to the end of his court appeal,” Sulayman Bojang said.
Mr Bojang said now that Sabally cannot contest, the UDP does not officially have a candidate in Busumbala constituency, but urged all the party’s voters to cast their ballots for Kanteh on Saturday “to flush out Saikouba Jarju who betrayed the party”.
When contacted by The Standard last night, Mr Kanteh said he represents people who do not want to see another five years of Saikouba Jarju as their representative.
“That would be a disaster and in order to avoid that, all UDP supporters must now vote for me,” Kanteh stated.
Kanteh, a law graduate, was a chief superintendent of police and was made director of intelligence at State House after Adama Barrow assumed the presidency.
In June 2018, he was deployed to police headquarters as deputy commissioner of prosecution. This was after contention started developing between the president and Ousainu Darboe, the latter being an uncle to Kanteh.
In January 2020 during the tense standoff between the Operation 3 Years Jotna agitators and the government, Kanteh publicly personally upbraided the president and the police for assaulting the demonstrators who he said had police permit. He said he didn’t care about losing his job for speaking out.
He was later charged with neglect of official duty and pleaded not guilty. The court later acquitted and discharged him.