Hon Madi M.K.Ceesay (memory lane)
Apr 16, 2016 … United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Ousainou Darboe was arrested along with three senior party figures after holding a news conference demanding to see the body of UDP organizing secretary Solo Sandeng, who died in police custody after holding a rare demonstration on Thursday calling for electoral reforms.
The UDP is lucky to have not only a fearless leader but a team of fearless leaders from day one when the party was founded. In the early days of the AFPRC/APRC and after the ban on political parties some serious Gambians came together and founded a party call the United Democratic Party and soon begin to identify a leader.
UDP is a real united party; as it was a results of the coming together of all major ban political parties that form the UDP. The members of the deposed People’s Progressive Party( PPP), the National Convention Party ( NCP) the Gambia People’s PARTY ( GPP) and other people who at the time never belong to any political party.
Among several names Lawyer Ousainou Darboe was mentioned and approached at the time he was out of the country on a private visit in the America. He was a popular lawyer who wins lots of high profile cases including accused person of the 1981 coup attempt led by late Kukoi Samba Sanyang.
The United Democratic Party’s leader and Secretary General is fearless and that is what make him succeed in defeating Dictator Yahya Jammeh and his ruthless system.
To begin at the end of his bravery and fearlessness; On 16 April 2016 Darboe led other fearless men and women of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and took the streets of Kairaba Avenue demanding the release of some 20 to 35 members of his party’s Youth wing who earlier took the streets of Serekunda demanding electoral reforms ahead of the December presidential elections. That group was also led by another hero Ebrima Solo Sandeng whose name is already written the history books of the Gambia for laying the foundation of the down fall of dictator Jammeh and his horrible APRC government.
Late Femi Peters who was until his death Gambia’s ambassador to the sister republic of Sierra leaone along with current Deputy Speaker Hon Alhagie Momodou Lamin Sanneh of Gambia’s National Assembly, Hon Fakebba Colley member of parliament and UDP national Campaign manager and Hon Kemeseng Jammeh Gambia’s Ambassador to Turkey were among several others who took the streets after knowing what had happen to the youth group of UDP, such as the killing of Ebrima Solo Sandeng and knowing very well that more that the same could have happen to them too. Be ore leading the group he was quoted of saying to his deputy Aja Yam Secka and team to stay behind as if any bullet is to be fired he will be the first take and therefore she Aja Yam and team should make sure that the mission is completed which is regime change ; Darboe is a fearless leader.
Darboe was send jail more than any other Gambian opposition leader since the emergence of the Jammeh regime. Jammeh has send him to virtually every police station here in the greater Banjul area and in few provincial police stations. Yet Lawyer Darboe did not give up the fight any time he is send to jail or to a particular police station he becomes stronger and stronger against the Jammeh regime.
In 1996 a convoy of the UDP were intercepted at the Denton bridge this I belief was in September; the Jammeh loyalist including the late Baba Jobe and others displayed their thuggery abilities by beating members of the convoy and that incident had left injuries on some of the UDP militants of the convoy whose deaths were linked to that unlawful act of militants and some supporters of the AFPRC/APRC.
Late Butay Boye a renowned drummer was among those who could not survive the type of cruelty meted out on them. Sajor Kunjang Sanneh a very strong woman was also a victim; late Sedia Sanyang was also a victim who could not survive it the former campaign manager Lamin Waa Juwara was also among those who suffered but survive the cruelty. These names are just a few among a lot of others who lose their lives due to the mistreatment in one way or the other. All these was under the leadership of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
In the early 2000s at Box bar in Banjul the UDP was refused a permit to conduct a rally and the leadership of the party insist that with or without a permit their rally was going take place and indeed it took place as a young reporter I did covered that rally. When the police came many people who were at the rally were really frighten but Ousainou said he will not move an inch and was going to address the rally. He went ahead and address the rally even though the majority of onlookers did disperse but Darboe was abler to address the rally and militants later disperse.
In 2000/2 am not sure of the exact year; the UDP under the leadership of the Lawyer Ousainou Darboe got an permit to tour the entire URD as it was called before and the tour proper started at Junlangel. Militants and their party supporters who left the Banjul left off at Bansang where they converged in the early afternoon headed for Julangel. At Julangel already an organised APRC youths were set to disorganised the rallies in its entirety by first telling the Julangel Alokalo that he must refused the UDP a meeting in his village.That failed and as the UDP was moving from Julangel to the next village the same people led by one Alieu Njie of Basse.
These group was not able to stop the rallies until a day later when they again this time laid an ambushed a few kilometres from the Chamoi bridge along the Basse Fatoto road. There was a clash between them and the UDP resulting later to the death of one Alieu Njie.
At the bridge the UDP were able to overpower some of the attackers and advised by Secretary General and party leader to return to Base hand the bandits to the police and proceed with their tour.
Just to show how brave Darboe was at the Basse station after the three people caught were handed over to the police he insisted that according the itinerary the night stop was to be in Kulari in the Tumana constituency and that is where the entourage will go. At the time most people thought it was not safe as it was already late more attackers might be waiting; Darboe however said if nobody is not going he will go and that encouraged the entourage to followed the fearless leader that night to Kulari village with just a brief stop at Kundam village. That goes to tell that Darboe is a fearless leader and that was all we wanted as a party.
The UDP contested several elections both parliamentary and presidential elections as indicated below and today under the leadership of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe the UDP has the majority in the National Assembly after the defeat of Jammeh by Coalition 2026.
|Election||Votes||Vote %||Seats||Outcome of election|
|1997||104,568||33.97%||7 / 49||APRC majority|
|2002||boycotted||0 / 53||APRC majority|
|2007||57,545||21.8%||4 / 53||APRC majority|
|2012||boycotted||0 / 53||APRC majority|
|2017||142,146||37.47||31 / 58||UDP majority|