DARBOE’S CANDIDACY: THE MORAL, THE LEGAL & THE POLITICAL
During his interview with Editor Mbai, UDP Spokesman, Lawyer Almami Taal, put forward a powerful and unassailable moral argumentas to why Lawyer Darboe’s candidacy in the 2021 Presidential Elections should not be questioned by anyone; because Jammeh was a dictator who bent The Gambia’s laws and the Constitution to prolong his dictatorship.
The Moral Argument In A Nutshell
- Like Nelson Mandela, Lawyer Darboe led the fight against Jammeh’s dictatorship.
- Jammeh used the Mama Singhateh/Momodou Sabally Tax Commission to attack his enemies (“Tax is a matter for the GRA, not a Commission”, argued Lawyer Taal).
- Jammeh also used his “mercenary judges” to convict Lawyer Darboe of a criminal offence (whereas infact Lawyer Darboe’s crime was simply to demand Solo Sandeng’s body after Jammeh’s soldiers had brutally murdered Solo). No doubt this made Darboe a hero – and Freedomnewspaper carried at the time Dida Halake’s piece entitled “SOLO’S BODY OR MINE!” referring to Lawyer Draboe’s undoubted HEROISM.
Hardly anyone would dispute the strength of this moral argument.
The Legal Arguments
When Lawyer Darboe himself took the above arguments to the Supreme Court, I think in 2018, the Supreme Court chose to follow the Law as it existed under Jammeh and as it exists under Barrow:-
- The Supreme Court (or was it the High Court?) upheld the Mama Singhateh/Momodou Sabally Tax Commissionfindings against Lawyer Darboe;
- The Supreme Court upheld Lawyer Darboe’s conviction that resulted from the Solo Sandeng Killing Demonstration (I think Lawyer Darboe challenged the constitutionality of the Public Order Act under which he was convicted and the court rejected that challenge – in effect upholding Lawyer Darboe’s conviction). Lawyer Taal seems to suggest that the “Presidential Pardon” may have erased Lawyer Darboe’s original conviction – but he did not sound certain.
The courts can hardly do otherwise: courts cannot disregard existing law, more so when Lawyer Darboe’s own government in 2017 had a chance to change that law; just as Jammeh’s Age-Limit Law that would have barred Darboe from contesting in 2021 was changed.
It seems to me that, should Barrow’s NPP challenge Lawyer Darboe’s candidacy in court,the courts will again ignore Lawyer Taal’s powerful moral arguments and instead follow the law – and find that the Mama Singhateh/Momodou Sabally Tax Commission findings and the Solo Sandeng Demonstration conviction bar Lawyer Darboe from being a Presidential candidate. Remember, the Supreme Court has just recently ruled that the Commission findings have the same effect as the findings of a court.
Thus we come to the political reality.
The Political Reality
The political reality seems to be that Lawyer Darboe’s UDP and President Barrow’s NPP are locked in a “life and death struggle” for the Presidency (If memory serves me right, both Darboe and Barrow have used the word “death” in relation to seeking the Presidency).
So it seems to me almost certain that Barrow’s NPP will challenge Darboe’s candidacy.
Lawyer Almamy Taal’s powerful moral arguments above will have no influence at all on Barrow and the NPP whose aim will be to stop Darboe.
UDP’s Trump Card (No pun intended!)
The UDP must therefore have an alternative candidate ready to take on Barrow in the likely event that the courts bar Lawyer Darboe from constesting. I have no idea who UDP’s alternative to Lawyer Darboe might be, but I recall one of my writings in 2017 when I suggested, during those hopeful and dreamy days after Jammeh was kicked out, that “Barrow should serve 5 years to 2021, Darboe serves 5 years to 2026, and Mayor Bensouda serves 10 years to 2036”.
That sounds funny now when I think about how quickly they all became political enemies. To make it even funnier (and tragic too), maybe Lawyer Darboe’s ‘Commando’, Momodou Sabally of the “Mandinka’s Are Trouble” and “Mama Singhateh/Momodou Sabally Commission” fame might become UDP’S Presidential Candidate should Lawyer Mandela Darboe be barred!
Editor Mbai, rather cheekily, asked Lawyer Almamy Taal:
“Will you join Barrow’s NPP should they win the December lections”.
Lawyer Taal replied: “Unlikely”.
Ah, but, if Momodu Sabally, Yahya Jammeh’s Presidential Affairs Minister and collector of a million dollars in cash from Gambia’s Cemtral Bank, can become Lawyer Mandela Darboe’s “Commando” why would anything be impossible in Gambia’s politics?
Lawyer Almami Taal could indeed easily become Barrow’s Attorney General after 2021 (and I would like to see that letter he wrote to my friend Fafa Mbai asking him not to become Jammeh’s Attorney General in 1994!).