Lawyer Ousainou Darboe has criticised the ruling APRC for wrecking the Gambian economy “while the rest of Africa is enjoying tremendous economic and social progress”.
The leader of the opposition UDP party has made these charges in his New Year message to the nation on the eve of 2016 which was reproduced on his Facebook page.
“As a nation, Gambia continues to be overwhelmed by serious challenges that require sustained pragmatic solutions. Most of these challenges are due to bad leadership and require our collective efforts to confront them. While many countries in Africa are registering tremendous economic and social progress with annual growth figures in some places as high as 7%, The Gambia, is engulfed in economic hardship with no end in sight,” he said.
“Unemployment, particularly among the youth is increasing daily and it’s at the moment estimated to be above 60%. The cream of our country’s future, the youths, are now fleeing the Gambia in their large numbers using the “back way” to reach Europe. Many are perishing in the desert sands of North Africa and the high seas of the Mediterranean where ship wreckages have become their watery graves.”
Darboe observed that the spiraling hike in the commodity prices “without increase in the earning capacity of Gambians continue to make it difficult for people to afford a decent two square meals a day”.
He also argued that “Farmers’ produce, particularly groundnut, the mainstay of the economy, have still not been bought”.
He charged that Gambian women “continue to die from unsafe child labour while children continue to die from preventable diseases thanks to a crumbling health system” where, he added, the “basic drugs and equipment are unavailable”.
Darboe, now 67, has passed the constitutional age limit of 65 set for presidential aspirants in the country but he said 2016 “is The Gambia’s year of redemption” which will usher in a new republic.
The UDP leader also berated what he called the expensive taste of the APRC regime as well as its alleged disrespect for human rights.
“Instead of utilizing our meagre resources to alleviate the country’s problems, the APRC regime lavishes our taxes and other public funds on grand festivals, musical jamborees and countless celebrations that defy all logic for anyone who has conscience and indeed the Gambia at heart,” he said.
“Respect for human and people’s rights remains in the doldrums with the independent press repeatedly harassed and gagged and political opposition brutally suppressed.”
Darboe also recognized one of the major takeaways of the 2015, the decision by the President to free close to 20 dozens of prisoners some of which were on death row.
However, he said such a gesture has equally fallen far short of the “spirit of national reconciliation” it was meant to achieve since “political prisoners like Amadou Sanneh and other prisoners of conscience are still languishing in jail”.
The UDP leader also criticized the President’s Islamic State proclamation calling it a “direct assault on the secularity of our republican status” and a “complete disregard of the constitution”