Earlier this month UDP received an invitation from Dr. Scattred–Janneh to a meeting called Civil Society Forum on the Gambia being organized to discuss matters relating to the political situation in the Gambia in New York. It was learnt that leaders of other Gambian opposition parties were also invited.
Initially, the UDP Leader accepted the invitation and had planned to attend personally. However, due to unexpected circumstances beyond his control, he couldn’t make the journey to America. The National Executive of the party nominated Honorable Momodou Sanneh as a replacement and communicated this change to the organizers of the meeting in good time, at least 10 days prior to the meeting date. In response, the organizers indicated their inability to fund Honorable Momodou Sanneh’s trip on the grounds that the nomination came “when the organization was already over budgeted”. The party leader and the UDP National Executive found this reason rather strange since there must have been a budget set aside to cover the Party leader’s participation, i.e. air ticket, hotel accommodation etc. Selective and substitutive representation of an organization at such fora is common and understandable practice, and usually accommodated.
Secondly, with the nomination of Honorable Sanneh, the UDP would have been adequately represented, like the other participating parties, by a top official, who would have been endowed with full powers by the Executive and Party Leader to speak for and act on behalf of the United Democratic Party. Thirdly, Honorable Sanneh, it should be noted, is one of the most senior members of the National Executive of the UDP and was the former Minority Leader in the National Assembly. He is therefore, in his own right,an astute and very knowledgeable politician who would have brought immense knowledge and experience to the proceedings of the New York meeting which would have definitely enriched the discussions and widen its results.
We all know that multi-party democracy and competitive liberal electoral politics can hardly work without organized political parties. They provide the platform for like-minded citizens to participate collectively in a political process that would otherwise be left in the hands of a small elitist group, detached from the masses of citizenry.
The UDP reiterate its long held willingness and readiness to participate at all times in any forum aimed at discussing ways and means of rescuing our country from the clutches of tyranny and decadence.
The UDP hopes that with this statement, the subject of its non-participation at the New York meeting which has led to certain innuendoes and mischaracterization in the media would be laid to rest.
Finally, we extend our felicitations to the organizers of the Civil Society meeting for organizing this encounter bringing together Gambian stakeholders and friends of the Gambia and others to discuss issues of the Gambia’s present problems and its future.