Gambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and longtime opposition leader, Ousainou Darboe, whose party won an absolute majority in the post-dictator Jammeh parliamentary polls, invoked a sense of unity in a deeply divided nation.
Darboe’s UDP party, from which the new President Adama Barrow resigned to led the unity government has been accused of tribalism by supporters of the ousted autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh.
The party has denied the allegations. Members of the UDP and Jammeh’s APRC were arrested in pre- and post-electoral skirmishes, mostly in the southwestern region of Foni.
“We are a nation of one family, united by blood ties and love of our people. Whatever village or town you live in; whatever work you do; whichever language you speak; whichever party you belong to; you are first and foremost, the daughter or son of the land, this beloved land of The Gambia, this home and abode of ours. Never forget that national interest surpasses any other affiliations you may have,” said Mr. Darboe.
Darboe, a human rights lawyer was arrested and jailed last year for taking part in an unauthorized opposition protest demanding the release of a senior opposition member, who had been reportedly tortured to death by Jammeh’s secret police.
At least nine people are being prosecuted by Gambian authorities for activist Solo Sandeng’s death since Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea.
Jammeh had threatened genocide against the Mandinka ethnic group, prompting the UN to demand a withdrawal of the statement. His threats became a major factor in his election defeat in the hands of Barrow.
Darboe has vowed to see respect and tolerance reign after Jammeh’s ouster as the nation prepares to launch a truth commission into allegations of human rights abuses and crimes against the state by Jammeh’s government.
The UDP leaders say it is a sign of political maturity that political differences can exist, “yet they can all work together closely and respectfully, in the national interest.”
UDP has pledged to use its majority stake in parliament to represent the interest of all Gambians, including those who voted for other parties. The party is sure to overwhelmingly support Barrow’s reform and development agenda.