With two of its members dead and its entire leadership in prison, the UDP’s presidential nominee Adama Barrow said his party has been singled out by President Yahya Jammeh’s government with its member made the target of repeated unlawful arrests, killings, and detentions.
Barrow, a businessman said this has been perpetual since 1996 and warned it will have to stop. Barrow replaced Amadou Sanneh as the party’s treasurer after the Sanneh was sent to prison in 2013 with three other UDP supporters.
Last year in country’s northwestern city of Fass, police intercepted a convoy of UDP supporters some 10 miles from the country’s border with Senegal. A standoff mounted lasting two days. It marked the beginning of a systematic scheme to disable the country’s largest opposition party.
In April, the UDP’s Organizing Secretary Ebrima Solo Sandeng led a handful of protesters to the Westfield Square demanding electoral reform. They were stopped by the police who later arrested him. Sandeng with at least a dozen others were tortured leading to his death.
Reports of his death forced UDP leader Ousainou Darboe with his executive to march to the police station to demand Sandeng’s release – death or alive. They were met with brute force by the riot police some 500ft from the U.S. Embassy in Banjul.
Police fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse them and were seen beating those getting arrested. More protests mounted daily leading to more arrest in May.
Darboe with at least 50 others arrested during the protests have all being sentenced to a three-year prison term after they refused to participate in the politically motivated trial.
President Jammeh accused them of trying to use their right to protest to oust his regime and now, the UDP party flagbearer said he has had enough.
“This cowardly action has led the Gambian people to appreciate that UDP is and has infect always been the party of the people and we are convinced that with the forthcoming elections the Gambian people will show this government that enough is enough,” Barrow said.
Barrow renewed calls for voters to head to the polls and end President Jammeh’s rule. Allowing Jammeh to win he said would be indistinguishable to betraying those that sacrificed their freedom for the nation.
“We will be letting them down and betraying them if we sit by and allow Yahya Jammeh to win this election,” the defiant presidential hopeful said. “As the leading party, we owe it to them and the entire Gambian people to fight as if they were with us and win.”
For the UDP, with many of its members dead, disappeared, tortured, exiled and incarcerated, winning the elections will enable them to end unjust incarceration of Gambians, free its leaders from unlawful imprisonment and enable them to take their rightful places among Gambians and continue relentlessly their mission of redeeming and reconstructing the nation of nearly 2 million people from the more than two decade destruction by the APRC regime.