The United Democratic Party (UDP) would like to thank and welcome the newly elected members of the executive who were duly elected at the party’s biannual congress in Basse from the 1st – 3rd April 2016. For the next two years, the new executive will be in charge of running the affairs and daily administration of the party. 

True to its commitment to supporting women in realizing their dreams in politics, the UDP at the congress overwhelmingly elected more women into important executive positions of the party. The outcome of the just concluded congress has reaffirmed UDP’s commitment to ensure that more women take up leadership and elective positions in the party to be the catalysts for women’s participation in opposition politics in particular.

For the first time in the history of party politics in The Gambia, women occupy 47% of the executive positions in a political party including those of Deputy Party Leader and Deputy Secretary General as well as Deputy National President. This by far surpasses the 35% needed to confirm the commitment of a political party to the “Affirmative Action” that guarantees effective women participation in decision making processes of their political parties. 

Also for the first time, up to 90% of the members of the executive are young people between the ages of 25 and 45. The UDP is alive to the fact that Gambia has a robust and increasing youthful population. For the past three years, the UDP has been putting together a number of policy options to increase the effective participation of young people in not only the affairs of the party but also politics generally.  The party has long been concern about the low participation of young people in both party politics and in seeking elective office. 

Of particular concern has been the fact that even though 63%of Gambia’s voters are youths, in the last three elections, there has been a dramatic and consistent drop in voter turnout, with the last election in 2011 recording fewer than 48 percent of total registered voters. The vast majority of those who did not turn out to vote were young people. 

This general apathy is attributable to a number of factors, but admittedly, and more bluntly, the systematic alienation of young people in party political structures and positions in the country.

Therefore with the election of young dynamic members into the party’s executive, we believe that the UDP is on the right course to rescue the country from the abyss of destitution and destruction it finds itself in. 

The congress agreed on some very important milestones to not only defeat the dictatorship but also to work with all other opposition parties in wresting power from the incumbent. The frameworks to achieving these milestones have also been identified. 

Further, the congress has empowered the party executive to push a unity agenda among all the opposition parties in The Gambia as part of efforts to present a common position towards 2016, thus our commitment to demands being pursued by the G-6. We also fully embrace efforts by a group of concerned youths of the different political parties for electoral reform. 

The UDP has embraced these initiatives with the utmost sincerity and faithfulness. We shall continue to be part of all genuine efforts in ending tyranny in The Gambia. 

Contrary to reports by some media houses, the UDP has not elected a flag bearer to lead the party into the 2016 elections. The UDP is cognisant of the ongoing efforts to bring the opposition parties together to rally behind a single candidate. Therefore we find it inappropriate to name a flag bearer least it is interpreted as an attempt to impose our choice of candidate on other parties or better still our lack of interest in opposition unity. 

Aside, under the UDP constitution, it is not the congress that selects a flag bearer. Instead it is the party’s Central Committee that is empowered by the constitution to establish a (candidates) selection committee. This selection committee receives and screens applicants and sends the shortlisted names to the Central Committee, which reviews and interviews candidates. 

Considering the now defunct constituent bodies of the parties organs (including the Central Committee), and, the population of the newly constituted bodies, one has to give these new organs some reasonable time for them to deliver. 

Those who are familiar with the structure of political parties and how they function do recognize that the party leader is not necessarily the party’s flag bearer. And the party’s flag bearer is determined (in most instances) at a time that is closer to elections. 

The UDP would like to thank all those who have in one way or the order contributed to making the congress successful. The party is particularly grateful to the people of Basse and indeed the entire Upper River Region (URR) for the level of preparation, commitment and effort you all singularly and collectively contributed in making sure that the congress was successively held.

Long live the UDP!!!!!

Long live the struggle for a better and democratic Gambia!!!

U.D.P. Secretariat

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