People’s Progressive Party National Congress
Report of PPP by Hon. Omar Jallow, interim coordinator and member of the national executive committee, on the occasion of the national congress of the People’s Progressive Party from 28-30th December 2018 at the YMCA Conference Hall
His Excellency, Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, first President of the Republic of The Gambia, Founding father of the PPP, Representative of the IEC, Representative of sister political parties, Distinguished guests and constituency delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me associate myself with the very warm welcome extended to you all by our Interim National President on the occasion of this important event. I would also like to seize this opportunity to extend a very special welcome to our leader and mentor, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and to express our gratitude as a country and as a party for the very wise and successful leadership he provided. To the constituency delegates let me also welcome you ad apologize for any shortcomings in the arrangements for the congress. The limited time available to meet the deadline set by IEC has made the arrangements, in some cases, below the standards of the past. As you are all aware our party was banned following the military coup in 1994, and this act was followed confiscated without any due process of the law. In addition, the military junta of Yahya Jammeh embarked on a systematic campaign of lies in an attempt to vilify our party and discredit it notwithstanding the remarkable developments this country has experienced during the PPP leadership. It is unfortunate that some of the people got carried away by these malicious and dishonest campaigns without any effort to verify the content of such propaganda messages. But the PPP has emerged even stronger and your presence here today is clear reaffirmation of your allegiance to and support for the party that brought independence, peace and stability to our country.
Distinguished guests! Ladies and gentlemen!
You will recall that in 1996, under Decree 89, our party, the PPP, and other parties including the NCP and the GPP were banned by the military government thus making any political activity by these parties illegal. In addition, the party’s assets (buildings, vehicles etc.) were seized without any due process of the law. The party’s archive was vandalized and the documents burnt. The assets of the party leaders were similarly confiscated without the due process of the law. Such was the lawlessness of this brigand of criminals posing as rulers of a decent republic like The Gambia. In 2001 against the background of this intolerable situation, our party together with other parties in similar situation decided to seek the lifting of the ban. In this regard the three parties concerned sent petitions to President Jammeh, the UN, AU AND ECOWAS explaining the unjust and undemocratic treatment suffered by these parties and to seek an immediate lift of the ban. This was done in August 2001.
The lifting of the ban on political parties brought a new opportunity for the party to re-engage with tis militants and the Gambian people. At an extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee and the Executive of the party in that same year, the party confirmed Sir Dawda and as the Secretary General of the party and the colour pink was selected as the party colour. It was during this period that the Secretary General of the party Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, instituted some interim changes within the party structure to better adapt it to the prevailing circumstances. In this respect, with the demise of Alhaji Kelepha Samba, Alhaji Yaya Ceesay was designated the Interim National President and I was appointed as the Interim National Coordinator acting as Interim party Leader.
In keeping with the requirements of Independent Electoral regulation the party registered with the IEC. Although the ban was lifted the atmosphere of intimidation and fear instituted as an official policy of the APRC Government continued to make serious political work difficult. In the 2001 elections the PPP worked closely with other parties namely UDP, NCP and GPP with the objective of forming an alliance to contest the 2001 election. However, these efforts, noble as they are failed as there was disagreement over the coalition flag bearer for the presidential elections.
The next major event in the national political calendar was the 2006 elections. In the period preceding the 2006 election the party deployed similar efforts of unifying the different opposition political parties to rid this country of dictatorship through the ballot box. We remained convinced at that time that the principle challenge was getting rid of Yahya Jammeh and restoring democracy and the rule of law in the country as PPP has left it. To facilitate this process the Gambians in the Diaspora convened a meeting in Atlanta, USA to promote the creation of a coalition of parties to confront the APRC in the forthcoming elections. Although all the parties could not agree, some including the PPP agreed to form the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD).
As is to be expected, with a divided opposition we could not defeat the APRC. The preparations for the 2016 elections proved better with the agreement of seven political parties and three independent candidates to form a coalition and select a flag bearer. The process leading to this decision was very much facilitated by the Diaspora and I want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for their valuable contribution in the struggle to liberate The Gambia.
The convention convened to seal the agreement selected Adama Barrow and the PPP leadership and militants campaigned vigorously throughout the country to ensure the end of dictatorship. We remain committed to the spirit and the letter of the coalition. I take this opportunity to congratulate our party militants and those of other parties for the dedication, good work and sacrifice that has made it possible to liberate this country.
I have taken time to brief you on these different phases of the struggle in order to highlight the pivotal role our party has played in the liberation of our country from the evil tyranny of Yahya Jammeh. For us this was the second liberation, the first being independence. Our party has always taken a resolute stand on the side of the Gambian people in their struggle against oppression and their fight for independence. Today as we reconvene for the national party congress, we feel satisfied that despite the hostile operating environment under APRC, the party militants have remained faithful to the party and continued to serve the Gambian diligently. I would like to pay a special tribute to thee young men and women who stood firmly behind the party throughout the difficult years of the struggle. I strongly urged you to continue in the struggle to restore the strength and glory of our party.
We have been successful as a party because of our adherence to good governance and the rule of law. We need to guard this jealously and practice it in the daily administration of our party. Similarly, the yough and women have an important role in the party and they must be encouraged to take up this role. I have already referred to the important role of the Diaspora has played in the past, I think it is now time to reflect on our relations and see how these can be deepened and strengthened for the benefit of the party and the country. For the confiscated properties of the party and those of its members, I have already addressed a letter to the government seeking for their immediate return. I believe this is an important area of concern which I urge the new leadership to pursue relentlessly. In conclusion let me thank you all for the support you have given to me and the party leadership throughout this difficult period of our country’s history. The task ahead now is to revitalize our party to serve the Gambia better.