Opinion: UDP Congress and the death-ward march of a once great party
The recently concluded UDP congress offered a profound glimpse into the state of Gambia’s biggest opposition party, as we barrel inexorably towards the 2026 presidential elections.
By all outward appearances, UDP looks like a party stuck in the past, unable to escape itself at a time when a rebirth is is what the doctor ordered. The great American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan puts it best when he declared: ‘That he not busy being born is busy dying’.
It’s an undeniable fact the yellow party has been in the throes of a protracted act of dying for well nigh on three decades. And the end is as sad as it is richly deserved. After more than 25 years at the helm, it appears the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe believes himself to be the only person in the territorial confines of The Gambia worthy of leading the country from the abyss to the promised land.
But it’s clear he is no Moses cometh to deliver Gambians from a cruel fate. If anything, he is complicit in coercing the hapless citizenry into living a destiny that’s not theirs. He supported Barrow to go beyond three years despite awareness of his incompetence, with catastrophic consequences.
After losing successive elections to Jammeh and Barrow, Darboe continues to hang on when he should have handed the baton to younger people for a fresh start. But the congress was utilized to fan the embers of his so many years of postponed ambitions
It’s clear even to the untrained human eye that Darboe lacks the charm and political nous in sufficient quantities to mount an assault on State House in 2026. The aura of power seems to have deserted him. Which is something a person has or doesn’t have, but only the one who has it has it.
There is plethora of young talent and leadership in UDP to give Barrow a run for his money, but the paucity of courage to take on the old guard is all but guaranteeing we are stuck with Barrow and his bungling regime for the foreseeable future.
For the sake of The Gambia, I hope UDP makes a simple act of choice and strategically places itself on the path to rescuing our country from the morass of poverty,corruption and incompetence.
When complicated human emotions are set aside, it’s simple: The old order must give way.
Sainey Darboe is a Gambian journalist and writes from Vancouver in the United States.