UDP held the biggest political congress in the Diaspora, just a few weeks after the former ruling party held theirs and the UDP party leader, Ousainou Darboe used the occasion to take a strong stand against political bigotry.
Some supporters of Darboe’s party, which now has the largest stake in the Gambia’s unity government have been held liable for tribal politics, attacking and threatening those with dissenting views and threatening genocide.
“We must not allow extreme negative militancy and overzealousness, unmeasured language and actions stand in the way of promoting the virtues of the United Democratic Party,” said Darboe.
“Therefore, we expect that those who truly respect and belong to the UDP be mindful of how they communicate, especially through social media.”
Darboe has been thought to have ignored the radicalism of some of his supporters, taking a passive stand but others say he has been concerned and is putting in places to bring it to a stop.
An MP from the Darboe’s party, Alhagie Darboe of Brikama North, was the first senior member of the UDP to condemn those claiming to be supporters of the UDP, who were threatening genocide and inciting tribal violence.
Darboe, who addressed the UDP supporters in the UK via video said “it is imperative that as a party, we are well organized and disciplined. This must be underpinned by all of us upholding democratic virtues of a Democratic Party.”
Supporters of Darboe, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister now say some opposition supporters have been recording messages, mostly via WhatsApp, disguising their voice, claiming to be UDP supporters and inciting violence to sow seeds of disdain towards the party.
Earlier this month at a rally in southwestern Gambia, Darboe said those that call UDP a tribal or Mandinka party are ignorant of the principles of the party, which won an absolute majority in the April election.
Independent observers agree that a section of UDP supporters have been radical and that the use of tribe in politics have been existing but said some of the accusations against Mr. Darboe, in particular, have been unfair, especially regarding the conduct of some “misguided elements” online, who are doing more harm than good to Darboe’s reputation.
“Our rule of thumb is that we ensure that all our communications no matter what platform we may use is driven and guarded by caution, sensitivity and modest language which is factual, relevant and tactfully put across,” said Mr. Darboe.
Gambia heads to the polls next year again to select local government officials and the UDP is expected to win big across the country, although it will face challenges from strong independent candidates, especially in Banjul and Kanifing.
Gambian President Adama Barrow is from the UDP. He resigned from the party to run as an independent candidate backed by seven opposition groups to defeat former President Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow is not expected to run for a second term in 2021 and the UDP is more than likely to field Ousainou Darboe as its candidate after Parliament voted to remove the upper-age limit that restrictd senior citizens from seeking the nation’s highest office.