The birth of the United Democratic Party (UDP) is unlike any other Gambian political party. Its beginnings evoke biblical currents in the story of Prophet Musa or Moses and Pharaoh. Accordingly, Almighty Allah purposely chose Moses to free the Israelites from the claws of Pharaoh. “Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. He will be very stubborn and it will take many signs and miracles before he will let you go; but everyone will know that I am God when he finally frees the Israelites.”
Who then in his or her right mind can forget the 22 years of brutality, five-star hotel, the crocodile den, the old well, the electric broom, rampant corruption, mismanagement, looting and stealing, mediocrity and so on and so forth? Who can easily forget the puff and tuff, the chest pounding, the billahi wollahi tanlahis, and the frequent insults to particular ethnic groups, elders and women? And the witch hunt and threats of ruling for a billion years?
However, in 1996, like Moses to Pharaoh, Lawyer Ousainou Darbo on his own volition and desire to see The Gambia and Gambians free from frequent abuses and insults, maladministration, rape and maiming of Gambian women, youths and children accepted the call by Gambian people who saw the need for an end to the military dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh. Confirmed sources indicated that the opposition group (of various political divide) came together with the help of elderly people such as Jobe Kanteh approached few capable and well educated Gambians (without success) to lead the new party to end the Military disctatorship. Lawyer Ousainou Darboe was the last person to be approached, who after numerous consultations with his family members, friends and extended relatives accepted the mantle of leadership of UDP. Armed with the motto of Justice, Peace and Progress, Darboe and his supporters immediately mounted sustained challenges to the dictatorship knowing fully well that the journey to freedom would be difficult and long. From 1996, Lawyer Darboe and the UDP remained steadfast in their struggle to bring hope to the hopeless, to give voice to the voiceless, and to defend the defenseless.
The birth of UDP in The Gambian town of Brikama in 1996 was the beginning of the struggle to end the military dictatorship. Unfortunately, some of Lawyer Darbo’s comrades who participated in the Brikama launching could not live long enough to witness 19th January 2017 but the ideals they fought for remains and the UDP shall continue to carry that trust forward.
The UDP has since then participated in every presidential elections but decided to boycott the 2011 Parliamentary Elections for the reason that the playing field was not level enough for a free and fair Parliamentary election. However, the coming together of major parties to form a coalition in October 2016 spelt the demise of one of Africa’s most brutal and dictatorial regimes.