The ‘worry’ within the supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP) was not a question of whether Darboe was a criminal unfit for office as some on the other side want to believe. The ‘worry’ was about the consequences of disqualifying Darboe.
We saw the jubilation after he was confirmed as nominated. Now, imagine that reaction in the opposite direction if in fact he was disqualified by the IEC.
Yes, no one is above the law, but the notion that Darboe, a political prisoner of conscience is being considered a common criminal unfit to run for office by the very people he liberated speaks of how despicable some among us are.
We knew from the get go that the greatest threat to the incumbent’s self-perpetuating schemes is Darboe and the UDP and they’ve done everything to weaken him. The question of disqualification is one such attempt and that is what the party supporters see; a scheme to disenfranchise them of their choice and had they attempted it, those citizens would react. Where it goes from there would have depended on how the security forces and the president’s supporters responded.
Let’s just say we averted an Ivory Coast type situation, when a man who served as Prime Minister was suddenly dubbed unqualified based on citizenship requirements. How can a man who served as Vice President suddenly be a criminal that can’t serve as president when he was acting president in the absence of the president?
African presidents and their power grabbing shenanigans set our countries ablaze and seeing some of our “woke” citizens entertaining such a dangerous notion speaks volumes. Yes, “the law is the law”; but this is less about upholding the law than it is about engineering unfair advantage.
But here’s the rationale for holding such views. When the split between Barrow and Darboe was imminent, various camps emerged.
1. There was already the camp that was bitter about the outcome of the Coalition 2016 primaries and selection of the less known, less competent Adama Barrow simply because he was backed by UDP when the more experienced Halifa Sallah should have been the chosen one. The people in that camp never got over that bitterness and they blame UDP and Darboe for that. Since then, they’ve been vindictive and looking for opportunities to say “we told you so”. So the architect of the failure of the coalition in their view, being fired from the very government he backed was welcome news. They would rejoice at every ill-fate that befalls Darboe for he would’ve deserved it as far as they’re concerned. And what better vindication for them than to have Darboe disqualified by the same person he so vigorously defended. Their tunnel vision, which is focused on seeing a humiliated Darboe loses sight of the potential conflicts that would ensue from his unfair disqualification.
2. There is the camp of former Darboe loyalists turned Barrow sycophants who claim that they are “tired of being in opposition” to the sitting government. After Barrow, formerly of UDP, secured the presidency on a silver platter, some of his former party mates became his newfound sycophants. To them, after two decades in the fight to end tyranny, it was time to be the new masters. Never motivated by principle or a desire to see a genuine return to democracy, they saw Darboe’s insistence on upholding the best standards possible as an impediment. So they turned against the man they so fervently rallied behind for years. Knowing how popular he is, their desire was to see him pushed out of the way in order for them to rest easy. Motivated by nothing beyond their greed, they too fail to see the consequences of an unfair disqualification of Darboe.
3. And then there are the political scavengers. Formerly Jammeh loyalists, they became turncoats only to get close to power and enjoy the fruits thereof as was the case under their former master. Having an upright and conscientious Darboe by Barrow’s side as an adviser who would not condone corruption was an impediment to their goals, so they too would scheme to ensure the odds are tilted in favor of the incumbent so that they can continue to serve in their privileged positions.
4. The opportunists make up the last group. During the two decades of tyranny, a lot of Gambians, especially the ‘intellectual’ class where completely invisible. They detached themselves entirely from politics and politicking. They will not be caught offering any political opinion even virtually. As soon as the change happened, the sudden realization dawned on them that they need to take an active role in politics. Instead of aligning with existing parties that have made a name for themselves in the fight to restore democracy, they sought to carve out a political niche for themselves. Unfortunately for them, they have no political capital and suddenly found that the loyalty earned by existing political parties cannot be easily shaken, so they crafted their own line of attack using legal technicalities as their argument in a bid to pull themselves up by pulling others down. The party and leader that commands the biggest and most loyal following, inevitably became their main target. Disqualifying Darboe would give them a better standing they thought.
All these forces portray themselves as more patriotic than anyone else, backed by their desire to dispossess Darboe of his enormous advantage, their arguments take one form and one form only; personal attacks devoid of any facts and entirely baseless. Despite his party’s very accessible manifesto and 5 point agenda, none of them advances any argument targeted at proposed issues he seeks to address as president. As the clock ticks closer and closer to election day, these camps are gradually merging, showing their true colors and self-serving goals.
What is more unfortunate is the sheer show of ingratitude for a man who gave so much for his country. His sacrifices are not enough reason to make him likeable and should not be a determination of whether one supports him or not, but trying to deny or diminish his contributions to his country in the name of political expediency is too low even for the most sycophantic person.