United Democratic Party (UDP), Gambia’s largest opposition party, has just concluded, what can only be described as, a highly successful tour of the country.
The tour was originally planned to last 10 days but had to be curtailed because of the refusal of the dictatorship to allow the entourage safe passage on the first day of the tour.
The stand-off at Fass Njagga Choi lasted five days before the government relented by providing the opposition party leader with the necessary permit to allow his entourage to proceed.
The tour route went through Niumi, Jorkadu, Baddibu, Niani, Sami, Jarra, Kiang to the Kombos. Along the way, particularly as the entourage reached the urban districts, the demands from the women and youth of The Gambia became louder that Yaya Jammeh steps down.
The new demands coming from the grass roots of the UDP poses a dilemma for the leadership that has, up to now, been very cautious about calling for the dictatorship to step down – a position this blog has supported since December 2013.
The Gambian youth has been particularly disappointed with a regime that has promised them the moon but fail to deliver on any of its promises. The regime’s failure at job creation and the provision of quality education has led to the massive exodus of Gambia’s youth towards Europe leading to the disastrous humanitarian emergency the world is witnessing in the Mediterranean since last year, and has grown worse this year.
The disproportionate share of the deaths by drowning of Gambian youth has raised the alarm and trained the eyes of the world on The Gambia and the repressive regime of Yaya Jammeh. Faced with high unemployment due to bad economic policies and an increasingly repressive measures adopted by the Jammeh regime, the youth only option is to look for reprieve outside their own country.
The challenge now is on the United Democratic Party in particular, as the biggest opposition party, and also because the call is coming from its women and youth supporters for Jammeh to step down. The UDP must now take the lead so that rest of the opposition can follow. We will all be watching.