See below the statement delivered by the United Democratic Party Secretary General, Ousainou NM Darboe at the launching ceremony:
Good morning and welcome to the official launch of the United Democratic Party 2021 Manifesto; 5-Point Agenda and Official Website.
Monday August 23rd, 2021 marked the 25thAnniversary of the founding of the United Democratic Party (UDP). Advisedly we chose today’s occasion for the unveiling of our Manifesto for the Presidential Elections which is less than 100 days from today.
This is a significant milestone in the history of our great Party. It is therefore fitting to share the UDP story with the younger generation and first-time voters in the hope that our story will inspire them to consider service to the Gambia our Homeland as the greatest act of patriotism.
One of the first actions of the Military Junta following the Coup D’etat of July 22nd 1994, was to suspend all political activities in the country. Effectively the suspension silenced the PPP, the NCP, GPP and PDOIS, all political parties of the first republic. The suspension of political activities left the AFPRC as the lone actor in the political arena until in or about August 1996.
In 1996 the ban on and suspension of political activities was lifted but this was followed by the banning of the leaders of the first republic politicians except PDOIS. And except PDOIS the then existing political parties were proscribed. The banned politicians and their proscribed parties were perceived to be the greatest threats to Yahya Jammeh’s intended self-perpetuating rule.
Negotiations for the formation of a new party began in the middle of July1996 and lasted for almost six weeks. The maiden meeting took place in the residence of Mr. Sidia Sagnia of blessed memory. He later became the first Senior Administrative Secretary of the UDP. This meeting was attended by representatives of the three parties namely: PPP, NCP and GPP and amongst them Hon. Kebba Tamba Jammeh, Mr. Sidia Sagnia, Hon. Landing Jallow Sanneh, Alhaji Jobe Kanteh, Alhaji Ansunding Keita, Hon. Mbemba Tambedou, Mr. Femi Peters, and Alhaji Amadou Cora.
That first meeting was on a Saturday evening shrouded in great secrecy. This was despite the lifting of the ban on political activities, as it was still dangerous to openly show the soldiers, turned politicians, that there were people who were not prepared to tow their line.
That maiden meeting led to a broad consensus for the creation of a strong political force to be composed of supporters of the three parties mentioned above.
The resolution adopted at the maiden meeting to create a progressive democratic movement that all the three parties subscribed to was ratified by the executive members of the respective parties. That done, the way was clear for the next step that is the identification of a leader of the party to be formed.
The search for a leader necessitated the drawing up of a list of potential candidates of eight people. This list was debated and shortlisted down to three. The first and second listed candidates quickly declined to accept the proposal and the choice now fell on the third listed who was out of the country at the time. The rest as they say is history.
Today I stand here before you with mixed feelings: humility and gratitude for the honour and trust the founding fathers and shall I say mothers of UDP bestowed on me, to lead our people to build a prosperous and democratic republic. But on the other hand, I am filled with sadness and regrets that most of the people among them Assan Musa Camara, Cherno Fofana, Alhaji Dembo Tunkara, Aja, Mama Galleh Ceesay, Alhaji Ansumana Dibba, Sam Sillah, Yaya Jallow, Sidia Sagnia, Okutta Thomas, Christian Davies, Femi Peters. Alhaji Mustapha Joof, Sana Yeye Bojang, Mass Jobe, Hon. Kebba Tamba Jammeh, Alhaji Landing Jallow Sanneh, Alh. Ebrima Pesseh Njie, Alhaji Landing Dado Jatta, Momodou G Jallow, Alhaji Sir Alieu Sulayman Jack, Alhaji Karamo Touray, Aji Jabanding Drammeh, Aji Fatou Secka Seckom, Aji Anta Samba, Aja Horeja Ndure, Aja Sarjo Kunjang Sanneh, Burama Drammeh, Aja Mammy Sarr, Aja Khaddy Mambureh, Alhaji Karamo Fatty, Alhaji Suntu Darboe, Aja Kunda Camara, Ya Sally Makalo, Sulayman Narr Sonko, Hon. Abou Karamba Kassama, Hon Buba Samura, Hon Babanding Daffeh, Solo Sandeng, Solo Kuruma, Lang Marong, Shyngle Nyassi, Hon. Fakebba Colley, Pa Kabba Sanneh, Aja Nyaha Ndow, Alhaji Amba Sey, Lamin Ndambou Dibba, Fa Kebba Colley, Jahey Suso and Amadou Khulay Secka (Gawlo Mansa) have not lived to see the Silver Jubilee of the mass movement they gave birth to 25 years ago.
May I crave your indulgence distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen to kindly stand up and offer a minute of silence prayer in their memory …. Thank you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the circumstances leading to the founding of the UDP made it imperative that we must measure up not only to the demands of a pluralistic political dispensation demanded by the 21st century but must also accept that the old politics and dogmas will now not do. 21st century Gambia needs a new kind of politics that creates the environment for a high energy democracy and a new theory of government that is value adding and economically empowering.
We are experiencing profound climatic changes threatening the life support systems of our planet. We are faced with a raging global pandemic that seems to mutate rapidly and is wreaking havoc on the un-vaccinated.
21st Century Gambia needs a new kind of politics that creates the environment for a high energy democracy and a new theory of government that is value adding and economically empowering the people.
It is within this dynamic context that I am presenting the UDP Vision for the transformation of our nation. Transition our economy away from fossil energy to green and renewable energy sources.
A couple of days ago, the Newspapers reported that 30% or more Gambians have sunk deeper into poverty and are unable to have more than one meal a day. My question then is, what is the effect of this on the pregnant women and lactating mothers? And what about the children and youths who need healthy and nutritious diet to grow and mature into adults?
Ladies and Gentlemen, there have been a lot of work put into and debate on, consideration and reconsideration of our Manifesto, our 5-Point Agenda and our Website. There was excellent team work, consultations, and verifications to get to where we are today.
I thank all the members of the UDP Strategy and Policy Committee and the different sector committees for their tireless efforts. We are pleased to share with you the end product of their hard work and recommendations that have been put together by the said committee.
These recommendations will ensure that government prioritises Human Capital Development as this will help improve the quality of lives and livelihoods of Gambians.
Our 5-Point Agenda focuses on key priorities that a UDP Government will seriously address. It is a summary version of the various sector policies we have committed to in our manifesto on our website.
We invited you all here to provide you with an opportunity to have first-hand knowledge of our ideas and ask questions about what UDP plans to offer Gambians. We will be more than pleased to respond to your questions.
In the meantime, we take this opportunity to thank you all for accepting our invitation to witness the unveiling of our UDP policies and to formally provide access to you all to the UDP website.
On that note, it gives me great pleasure to officially launch the UDP Manifesto; the UDP 5-Point Agenda and the UDP website. Henceforth, they are all open to the general public.