|Thumbs Down: Darboe's Gambia 2012 Mix Feelings|
The Gambia’s main opposition, the United Democratic Party (UDP) looks back at 2012 with mixed feelings – the feeling that God, the Almighty has spared us to see the year through and the lack of any tangible achievements on the economic or social front.
“The year 2012 witnessed events in The Gambia that have marveled not only the ordinary citizens but the world at large,” the party’s leader and Secretary Mr. Ousainou Darboe said, referring to the famous “executions in August.”
“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,” he said.
Mr. Darboe and his UDP are baffled as to why these have happened to The Gambia in 2012. he told Gambians on new year’s eve “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 host the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and the African Institute for Human Rights Studies.
In his view, the presence of these institutions in the country should provide the élan for The Gambia to be tolerant to dissenting views, to be circumspect in her decisions to deprive people of their liberty and for the country to serve as a role model for the rest of Africa in the matter of observing due process and eschew executive lawlessness.
Socially, he said 2012 has seen an increase in the number of deprived children who are either hawking or begging in the streets, and have been forced into that situation because of their parents’ poverty.
He corroborated finding by credible studies that showed poverty and hunger are on the increase. He said several household heads are unable to provide for their families, and an increase in youth un-employment.
According to him, youths who could not be absorbed into The Gambia National Army, Gambia Police Force, The Gambia Prison Services or the Immigration Department opted for the perilous journey to Europe.
The year 2012 has witnessed the greatest setback for democracy and free and equal participation of political parties in the electoral process, Mr. Darboe said. The UDP as a member of the Group of Six made minimum demand of the Independent Electoral Commission to put in place guarantees that will ensure a free and fair National Assembly election.
He said: “The Commission deliberately refused to do the right thing resulting in six of the opposition parties being forced not to participate in the last National Assembly Elections.”
2012 was not a year of only doom and gloom, there was a brighter side to it, admits Mr. Darboe. He said it was a year in which Gambians in their individual capacities have registered great achievements – ones that every Gambians can and should be proud of.
He recalled: “2012 witnessed the election and enthronement of the First Gambian Primate and Archbishop of the Church of the Province of West Africa.
“2012 saw the election of a Gambian to the position of Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; 2012 has seen the appointment of a Gambian to the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
“2012 has seen the appointment of a Gambian as the head of a first class financial institution in Oman one of the growing financial centres in the Middle East, and 2012 saw a Gambian as the recipient of the World Bank 2012 Jit Gill Memorial Award for outstanding public service.”
These individual achievements compelled the UDP leader to conclude that “our country is not bereft of talent and expertise even if this is not appreciated by the present government.”
Written by Modou S. Joof