Fellow Gambians, on the 6th day of April 2017, we, the blessed people of The Gambia, exercised our democratic rights, and used our votes to elect our National Assembly Members. I walked into the polling booth at Old Gamworks on Kairaba Avenue and casted my vote. I congratulate Hon. Assan Touray for his election. He now represents me and all the people and residents of Bakau Constituency at the National Assembly of The Gambia.
On the 6th April 2017, we Gambians, with pride and purpose, elected 53 of our compatriots to represent us at the body that makes the laws of the land. We indeed elected the candidates under party tickets, but we expect them to represent all of us as a nation irrespective of party affiliation.
As Secretary General of the United Democratic Party (UDP), it is with humility and gratitude that I thank the people of the Gambia for the confidence they have bestowed on the party I lead.
We pledge and commit to work for the national interest-first, foremost and forever. We vow to represent the interests of all citizens and residents in our constituents, including those who voted for other parties and those who did not support any party. We look forward to working closely with coalition partners and others to support President Adama Barrow’s reform and development programmes.
We pray that with this election, Gambia shall become a beacon of democratic enlightenment. I predict that great parliamentarians will emerge from this batch of National Assembly Members. I expect them to scrutinize the executive with vigilance and competency, tempered by positivism and a mission for cooperation and united action. I greatly regret the fact that we have such a small number of female NAMs. I take this as an urgent challenge for UDP and other parties. It is now our duty to start internal reforms aimed at achieving gender parity at the next parliamentary elections. Our first test will be the municipal elections. A nation that marginalizes its women sabotages its development.
Fellow Gambians, as Secretary General of the majority party, and indeed on behalf of all parties, I thank you most profoundly for the peaceful way you have participated in the campaigns of the various parties and independent candidates. Whatever the occasion, whatever the circumstances, for us Gambians, it is always, Peace Forever.
We are a nation of one family, united by blood ties and love of our people. Whatever village or town you live in; whatever work you do; whichever language you speak; whichever party you belong to; you are first and foremost, the daughter or son of the land, this beloved land of The Gambia, this home and abode of ours. Never forget that national interest surpasses any other affiliations you may have.
Democratic election is about fair competition amongst people and parties. Sometimes, there are tensions; sometimes there is anger; yet always, there is love of our country and our people. This is why we are a united and harmonious nation. It is only three months, since we liberated our country from dictatorship through peaceful means. Again, the whole world stands in admiration in the way we have conducted the NAM campaign, in peace and good humour. This is our blessing as a country. This is the new Gambia. Let us not allow anything to undermine this noble heritage. Law and order, justice for all, democracy, development with dignity-we strive and work for these virtues and shall never take them for granted.
When the results come in, for the candidates and parties, there will be winners and losers; for citizens and the nation, there will be triumph for all. I expect to see candidates that have lost, to reach out and congratulate the winners. I expect to see the winners to embrace all their constituents and devote their every fibre to public service for the national interest. This is because winning an election is the decision of the people, and the voice of the people is the voice of God. From party leaders, to candidates, to supporters, some will be jubilant, some will be disappointed, but all of us must be thankful to Allah, for helping our country embed democracy and peace in our political system.
For candidates who are elected, you will serve all the people, without favour or ill will. Your duty and pride depends on how well you serve the national interest. In the new Gambia, there shall be respect and tolerance. It is a sign of democratic maturity that we can have political differences, yet we still work together closely and respectfully, in the national interest. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild our country, after 22 years of dictatorship. Fellow Gambians let us pray for our new parliamentarians, as they undertake the task of rectification, reform and transformation of the social and political economy of The Gambia.
Thank you and God speed
Hon. A.N.M Ousainou Darboe