There is a lot of speculation that there is an internal wrangling and power struggle in the United Democratic Party (UDP). Many people believe that the power struggle is centered on who should be the flag-bearer for the party in the upcoming elections.

It is believed –  by many – that Pres. Adama Barrow has now changed his earlier stance that he would stay for only three years as a transitional president and then leave office for a free, fair and democratic elections to be conducted in which he will not contest. But, it seems that he now wishes to throw his hat in the ring.

This new stance has brought some disquiet to the United Democratic Party as folks see Barrow as a political threat to the longtime leader of the party, Lawyer OusainouDarboe. Though the party has repeatedly denied this power struggle, citizens believe that there is indeed some form of struggle as to who will be the flag-bearer come 2021.

Recently, it was revealed that His Excellency President Adama Barrow had started courting some of the UDP’s National Assembly Members by giving them envelopes containing ten thousand dalasis each. Some even say that that list also included Chairmen of Area Councils. This action was denounced by many political commentators as being an underhanded dealing to tip the balance in favour of Adama Barrow.

Of course, the denials from State House were swift and ferocious again. They claimed that these NAMs had requested some kind of help from the president which he was fulfilling. It was said that the National Assembly Members had spoken to the president about their difficulties in having enough fuel to visit their constituencies and that is what the money was for.

Be that as it may, it was frowned upon by almost all political commentators in the country. Recently, we have also observed the president having many engagements from youth groups, opinion leaders and Imams at the State House. This, it is said, is informed by the fact that the United Democratic Party will hold its congress in December. Thus the indication is that he is trying to garner support for his bid.

In the newspapers yesterday, it was reported that the United Democratic Party booted out at least five chairmen of the party because they were said to be in support of Barrow’s bid to be the UDP flag-bearer for the presidency. This was something that was denied from some quarters. The truth though is that there seems to be some form of struggle or the other. The saying that ‘there is no smoke without fire’comes to mind here.

Whatever the case, a head on power struggle between Barrow and Darboe will not be good for the country. For one, it may split the party into a Barrow Camp pitching against a Darboe Camp which cannot be good because it will make the political field more unstable, more unpredictable and more chaotic.

In my opinion, what this points to is perhaps the fact that the party structures were not as robust as they should. If the structures were as strong as they should, it would take care of this problem easily and outsiders would not even have heard of it. Provision should be made – very clearly – as to how one becomes the party’s flag-bearer. If these rules are then followed, it will ensure that the struggle never gets ugly or resorting to underhanded dealings. This is not good for the country.

When a sitting president has to focus more of his time on trying to win people over for his campaign, it has the potential of distracting him from the service of the nation for which he was elected. There will be a conflict of interest and we all know that many people – if not most – will be tempted to take the personal interest over the national one.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) and indeed all other parties must work on their democratic structures to ensure that they are truly democratic even if they are in the opposition. A party that is not democratic while in the opposition cannot be expected to be democratic when elected.

Besides, the silence from the leadership of the United Democratic Party on the issue of the power struggle can harm the country as some members will be conflicted not knowing where Barrow or Darboe stands on this issue. The United Democratic Party should therefore come out and tell us something; where they stand, what they think. Let us know!

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen