Wednesday, 02 January 2013 01:31(JollofNews) – Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, leader of the Gambia’s opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has described 2012 as a difficult year in which the country has not registered any tangible achievements on the economic and the social sector.
Mr Darboe said the past year has seen an increase in the level of poverty and hunger in the country with many household heads being unable to provide for their families. He added that this has forced many children to beg in the streets.
According to the UDP leader youth unemployment has also gone up resulting in youths who could not be absorbed into the state security services opting for the perilous route to Europe.
He added: “The year 2012 witnessed events in the Gambia that have marveled not only the ordinary citizens but the world at large. It was a year that saw the execution of nine death row inmates; saw the incident of night arrests of prominent individuals, the misuse of the Economic Crimes, (specified offences) Act and the efforts to fetter and stifle the citizens’ right to petition the executive for redress by indicting aggrieved persons before the courts on charges of giving false information.
“We are baffled as to why these have happened to the Gambia in 2012. It is difficult to rationalise these happenings in a country that vaunts of its constitution as being one of the best in the sub-region; a country that is host to the African Commission On Human Rights, the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and the African Institute for Human Rights Studies.”
The UDP leader said 2012 has witnessed the greatest setback for democracy and free and equal participation of political parties in the electoral process. He said the year saw the boycott of parliamentary elections by major opposition parties as result of the electoral commission’s refusal to put in place guarantees for free and fair elections.
He added that the hackneyed slogan of “power to the people” can only be meaningful if the electoral process is credible.
Mr Darboe said while 2012 was bad politically for the country, it was on the other hand a year in which Gambians in their individual capacities have registered great achievements that every Gambians can and should be proud of.
He added: “These monumental achievements by individual Gambians should give us hope, hope that when our individual talents and knowledge are properly harnessed, our country the Gambia will be the ultimate beneficiary. Let us keep this hope alive and do everything within our powers to sustain it. I am sure we can do it if we accept the fact that we are all Gambians and we all wish the best for our country.
Mr Darboe added that as Gambians celebrate the beginning of a new year, they should take pride in being Gambians and should not allow their sectarian political views to make them shy away from speaking the truth.
“After all we are first and foremost Gambians before being members of any political organisation or grouping,” he said.
Mr Darboe added: “Leaders of every description and category must be prepared to sacrifice for the good of the nation and there can be no supreme sacrifice than to challenge the in-equities in the society and stand up for the wronged and deprived. Let us subordinate our individual selfish aspiration to the greater good of the Gambia. We must strive to build a just society but we can only do so if justice guides our actions.”
He said the Government of Yahya Jammeh should take the lead in creating a just and equitable society and must also grasp the reality of the situation and find solutions that Gambians would be proud of.
Mr Darboed further said: “We have seen examples of countries in more extreme situations come together and act as one. Our differences are minute compared to those countries that appear geographically and ethno-linguistically to be constituted by what appears to be different nations. We are convinced that if we are serious in our desire to make our country better for ourselves and our children, we should be able to forge ahead into the future with trust and confidence.
“We must in the coming months be prepared to engage in a national dialogue that will address governance issues of every nature in this country. I call on the Executive and all other leaders to give consideration to the convening of a national conference to discuss not only political but also socio-economic problems confronting our beloved country.”
Written by PK Jarju
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