The Gambia is gearing up for its 9th presidential elections since attaining independence in 1965 and the 4th under the military-turned civilian regime that came to power in 1994.
The Independent Electoral Commission hinted earlier that the presidential elections will be held in the latter part of 2011.
Darboe, whose party, UDP, has been the main challenger to the ruling APRC after the lifting of the ban on political parties and activities in 1996, told Kissykissymansa at his office that the hostile political environment that frustrated their efforts to win previous elections, is still haunting them in the run-up to the 2011 presidential polls.
“You put up my poster, agents of the ruling APRC will tear it. Some sycophant security officers are acting as campaign agents for the ruling party; intimidating and harassing all opposition elements. Of course the heavy patronage as some companies have been making gratuitous offers to the president and his party because they want to maintain their businesses. Public institutions such as Gamtel and Gambia Ports Authority are using public resources to campaign for Jammeh. These are against us”, he said.
The lawyer cum politician also decried lack of coverage of opposition activities by the state-owned media, which deprived them of the opportunity to sell their agenda to the public.
“When there is a small installation of an insignificant civil servant, the entire government media will cover it. But when the opposition parties discuss serious matters, no government media reports on them,” he said.
As the country gears-up for the presidential elections, the country is confronted with yet another controversial decision of the ruling APRC as ‘revert thinking’ political authorities are mounting campaigns to install president Jammeh as a king.
But Darboe said this move is not surprising because president Jammeh who came to power with the promise of being a ‘servant’ of the people, accusing the ousted government of self-perpetuating rule, has departed from this promise to become ‘an absolute despotic monarch.’
He said: “Because of his [Jammeh’s] intoxication with power, he has been ruling as an absolute despotic monarch. He is not only entrenching himself in power, but trying to create a special ruling class of his descendants and probably change The Gambia into the Kingdom of Kanilai.”
Darboe said, it is rather disappointing that at the time – 21 century – when monarchies are giving way to republics, some retrogressive thinking Gambians want to vest on the president not only ceremonial powers of a monarch, but wide executive powers to perpetuate a rule of oligarchy.
But the opposition leader vowed to campaign against the move to transform the republic of The Gambia into a monarchy and urged “all Gambians, even ruling party supporters” to denounce it.
“This [the kingship] is not about electing any of the opposition leaders into office. It’s about turning the country into a monarchy,” he said, urging president Jammeh to make an amendment to the constitution to limit the tenure of any president. “If he did that, he would have done a lot of good for the Gambian people.
Eyes victory come 2011
Meanwhile Darboe is hopeful that come 2011, his party will be elected into office, saying the ruling party’s image is dented.
“Come 2011 we will make sure Jammeh is not only voted out of office, but it will be difficult for APRC to regroup because when Jammeh is out APRC will fizzle away,” he said.