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OPINION: This election is Darboe’s last chance to the State House
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OPINION: This election is Darboe’s last chance to the State House

The fast-approaching presidential election on the 4th December 2021 is no doubt United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Ousainou Darboe’s last chance saloon to the State House.

Wary of this fact, party faithful are taking no chances in their quest to get their founding leader a five-year lease at No 1 Marina Parade in Banjul. These include a moving documentary about Darboe, the man, the lawyer, and the politician. But is it too late? A critic opined that in business, Darboe would be a damaged good. People’s perception of him hasn’t changed. Outside of the Yellow circle, he is viewed as someone leading a cult group, propagating Mandinka dominance over other ethnicities. This long-held view might not necessarily be true, but the man himself and party haven’t done much to quell it.

Being in government between February 2017 and March 2019 was a perfect opportunity for Darboe to show his angelic side, that he is not what his critics portrayed him, but he fluffed his lines. A missed opportunity if you ask me. Instead, most of the senior government appointments, which he influenced, were lopsided in favour of his kinsmen.

I said it many times that Darboe enjoys godlike status at the Yellow kingdom, but outside it, he is inarguably the most hated political party leader. Halifa Sallah is highly respected and admired outside PDOIS, Mama Kandeh too is admired outside GDC. All party leaders enjoy a degree of admiration outside their respective parties except Darboe. 

But they should fear not, all is not lost. The current electoral system of first-past-the-post favours the UDP. I cannot see them winning a second-round two shootout regardless of who they are up against. All others will gang up against them.


There is fear among ethnic minorities for various reasons which were being murmured, but now brought to the mainstream what a UDP government means to them.

Land dispute: Ethnic minorities living in rural Kombos are worried that under a UDP government, with Ousainou Darboe at the helm, they will lose their family homes to encroaching land grabbers, the so-called “Langsarols”. And the government would be a complicit bystander.

Militants: The unruly behaviour of their youthful militants in 2017, when they came to power, was scary. Many are worried that under a full-fledged UDP government, these menacing youths will be turned into state-backed vigilante militia doing the job of both the police and the SIS. They would be effecting citizen’s arrest, intimidate, frame, and get opponents jailed.

Civil servants: Many civil servants from ethnic minorities believed their cherished careers would stall under a UDP government. That is if they are still lucky to keep their jobs after surviving purging. Promotions would be based on ethnicity above merit.

Unsolicited advice: Ousainou Darboe, a successful failure at the polls, was trounced four times on the trot by former president Jammeh might have taken the wind out of his sails. The party needs a new candidate of mixed heritage to bring in new voters who would not have voted for them. African politics is tribe based and currently, the UDP has only one pool to tap votes from. Even with that, they are competing with four others in the same pool. They have zero chance in other pools.

Saul Sarr

United Kingdom


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