UDP leader Ousainou Darboe said his party’s leadership will not tolerate members that attempt to bring the country’s de facto ruling party into disrepute, seeking an end to the bigotry of some extreme militants.
Many have had negative feelings about the UDP party after some of its members use social media to attack and threaten dissenting voices and activists, and incite tribal violence and genocide.
“The leadership of the UDP will not allow negative and undemocratic language and actions undermine its credibility. That is not the type of imaging and branding the UDP wants,” said Mr. Darboe.
“Let me make it very very clear that the UDP leadership does not and will not tolerate nor support anyone within the party that attempts to bring the party into disrepute.”
Darboe was addressing supporters of his party that held the largest political congress outside of the country in Crawly, a town and borough in West Sussex, England, 28 miles (45 km) south of London.
The party has won an absolute majority in the Parliament in the April elections, making it the largest stakeholder in the country’s coalition government, in which Mr. Darboe is the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
But since the party’s transition from an opposition group, some of its members have been on an all-out assault on those that differ in opinion from the party or criticize its leaders.
Some senior supporters of the UDP said those inciting violence and threatening opposition supporters and activists with dissenting views do not represent the creed of the UDP. They pointed out that Mr. Darboe is being unfairly accused of ignoring them.
Darboe has been described to be taking a passive stand against bigotry stemming from his party but the weekend speech in Crawly, that was streamed at the event showed a party leader taking an aggressive position, demanding an end to the behavior of some his party members.
Activists welcomed Mr. Darboe’s stand against the practice that was spinning out of control and hope the warning is heeded to and backed by action to expel and distance the party from such members, who are planting a seed of discord in the nation.
But independent observers say Darboe is also being unfairly treated by some of his critics, who have also called the UDP a Mandinka party. The Mandinka is the largest tribe in Gambia.
Darboe said some two weeks ago that those calling the UDP a Mandinka party are ignorant of the principles and demographics of his party. According to the observers, the behavior of some of his supporters, including some known officials cannot be directly associated to the veteran politician.
It is not the first time this year that Darboe had tried to address the situation. The past comments on the behavior of his supporters have been passive and this has been his strongest so far and activists say those who have ears must listen and heed to the advice of the UDP leader and the country’s top diplomat.