Human Rights and good governance
The UDP is committed to the concept of representative democracy in which people choose based on informed decision who they want to represent them, defend their interest and conduct the affairs of the state on their behalf.
The 1997 constitution of our republic was tailor-made to suit members of the former AFPRC Military Junta who were preparing to turn themselves into civilian politicians. Despite popular demand, the junta ignored the wishes of the Gambian people and instituted a self perpetuating rule for President Jammeh who is now expressing a desire to turn the country into an absolute Monarch with him as King and his six year old son, Mohammed, the heir to the throne.
The UDP is committed to ending the culture of self perpetuating rule and shall introduce a constitutional reform programme that will include inter alia;
- Introducing a presidential term limit of two 5yr terms.
- Abrogating the presidential power to dissolve the National Assembly.
- Closing down the constitutional loophole that allows the president to fire elected members of the National Assembly.
- Repealing the local Government Act 2007 to ensure that our local government administration is purely based on democratically elected councils as opposed to the present hybrid system of presidential appointments and popular election with no autonomy whatsoever.
- Amend sections 58 and 59 of the constitution, dealing with the appointment of District heads, Seyfolu, and village Alkalolu to ensure that Seyfolu are elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
- Alkalolu will be selected by village elders, taking into account traditional lines of inheritance. In the absence of a consensus, the issue shall be subject to election.
- Adapting a highly decentralised form of local government administration with local authorities having a significant autonomy.
- Limiting the terms of local council chairmen/women and mayors to 2 terms and they should be elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
- Strengthening and entrenching the constitutional provisions relating to the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure a truly independent electoral body.
- Re-introducing the second round voting system to ensure that no party governs Gambia without the expressed approval of at least 51% of the electorates.
- Making provisions which would enable organisations and communities other than political parties to sponsor candidate for elections.
- Repealing all obnoxious media laws to ensure press freedom and allow for a vibrant debate on national issues.
- Guarantee and safeguard the independence and integrity of the judiciary particularly the Criminal Justice System.
- We shall give meanings and respect to the section of the constitution dealing with sovereignty of the Republic of the Gambia. Nobody will be allowed to use the Gambia and its resources as his/her personal property.
- In addition to the local revenues generated within the local administrative regions and municipality, central government shall allocate resources to each council to bring about a more equitable distribution of the national wealth.
i) Political Parties
Political parties will be recognized as the vehicles for expressing the political will and aspirations of the citizenry. As one of the pillars of a democratic society, political parties shall provide the necessary framework for the effective participation of the citizenry in the political process.
We shall support and encourage the existence of a multi-party environment that will subscribe to the process of effecting a peaceful and lawful change of government. Any law that seeks to restrict this will be abrogated.
- We shall provide support to political parties in carrying out their civic education programs.
- The IEC will be made to play a more tangible role in party politics and will be empowered to ensure, at all times, a level playing field for all parties.
ii) The Press
The press has a particularly important role to play in strengthening democracy. It has the responsibility of informing and educating the citizens as well as the government on the concerns, needs and possibilities of the ship of state. To fulfill this role effectively, calls for an active press and committed journalists, whether from the public or private sector.
We will support and encourage a free press as a pillar of democracy, and abolish all unjustified restrictions on press freedom. We shall also ensure that individual privacy and personal information of all citizens are protected.
iii) Civic Education
Civic education can only take place effectively in an atmosphere devoid of authoritarianism. We will create such an environment and support civic education through national committees, the school system and political parties so that the citizens can play a more active and enlightened role in the political development of the country.
An enlightened population will be a bulwark against political abuse of power and a defense against military interference in politics.
iv) The Judiciary
Everyone has the fundamental right to be heard when accused or found to be in breach of the law. Fraud, waste and embezzlement are absolutely no excuses for the seizure, abuse or demolition of this right. All citizens should be treated equally as human beings in the eyes of the law.
The UDP will ensure;
- The establishment of an Independent judiciary as the executive arms of the law, and take all legal steps necessary including legislation, to preserve the rights and privileges of all in the society.
- Guarantee the right to fair trial, access to justice and equality before the law for all Gambians.
- Establish and maintain an independent, strong and robust Judicial Service Commission.
- Have regards for the Commissions of Inquiries set up by the AFPRC Junta. - We welcome their existence and the outcomes of their proceedings will be respected. However, we are committed, in the interest of natural justice, to providing all people who feel unjustly treated, an opportunity to appeal before an independent judicial commission for a review of their cases.
- Improve efficiency in case management and the dispensation of justice in our court system particularly in the lower courts.
- That the judiciary is the final arbiter of all disputes in the country.
We shall also give full support to the strengthening of the democratic institutions in the country. This will include:
The APRC regime is notorious for its poor governance practices such as bribery, controls over the press and limits on civil liberties. These are all found together and are clearly mutually reinforcing. The UDP shall;
ii) Commitment to Human rights
The APRC regime is a well known serial violator of human rights and is also notorious for its utter contempt for the fundamental principles of democracy and respect for the basic tenets of the rule of law. This has resulted in the creation of a very repressive environment and a culture of fear in The Gambia.
Although the constitution provides for the protection of most human rights and civil liberties in The Gambia, there are continuing cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions without warrants or trial particularly against political opponents, both real and perceived, and journalists.
Detainees also face prolong pre-trial detentions and are normally held beyond the 72 hour constitutional limit without charge.
On the 10th & 11th April 2000, 14 student demonstrators were shot dead in broad daylight. A government own appointed commission of Inquiry held the security forces responsible for these killings but no prosecution has so far being brought against anybody.
The gruesome murder of Deyda Hydara, a journalist and Newspaper Proprietor, and the shooting of Mr. Ousman Sillah, a leading member of The Gambia Bar Association, remain unsolved as the government continues to drag its feet on the investigations.
The regime restricts freedom of speech and press through intimidation, unwarranted arrests and detentions, and restrictive legislation.
The restrictive media environment that exists in the country has forced many journalists into self imposed exiled or out of business.
Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, the regime continues to fire judges particularly those who made unfavourable decisions against it without the due process being followed; the most recent case being the high profile removal of Chief Justice Abdou Karim Savage. The lower courts tend to be subjected to executive pressure for favourable outcomes.
iii) Enforced Disappearances
The 2008 & 2009 Amnesty International Reports also highlighted some disturbing cases of suspected enforced disappearances.
The fate of Kaniyiba Kanyi, a UDP Constituency Secretary for Kombo East, arrested in2006 by state agents and on the orders of the Interior Minister, remains unknown as the government continues to deny knowledge of his whereabouts despite repeated rulings by the Gambia courts for his release or for a cause to be shown as to why he should not be.
In July 2008, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) ordered the Gambian government to release Chief Ebrima Manneh, a former reporter from the Daily observer, arrested in 2006. The government ignored the ruling and continues to deny that he was in their custody.
Several other cases including those of Masireh Jammeh and Haruna Jammeh both of Kanilai Village, President Jammeh’s birth place, who disappeared in 2005, and Alagi Modou Lamin Nyassi, ex-chief of Foni Kansala, and two of his close associates (disappeared in 2006), remain unsolved with the government fervently reluctant to talk about them let alone investigate. (The list of cases goes on and on)
The united Democratic Party is strongly committed to the protection of the fundamental rights and civil liberties of all Gambians and at all times as prescribed in the constitution, the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declarations on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other similar legal instruments that seek to protect the individual against the might of the state. Thus, we shall;
In today’s world, the interdependency of nations is so palpable and crucial that no nation can afford to stand all by itself. This is even truer in the case of small countries to which international relations provides a further strength to national independence and sovereignty.
The UDP shall;
- Strive to maintain and protect the independence of The Gambia, and protect and promote Gambian interests in all international fora in keeping with our constitution and the rights and aspirations of the Gambian People.
- Encourage and support friendship with all nations in support of democracy and the promotion of human, social and economic rights of all people.
- Strive for The Gambia to gain the respect and admiration it has lost in the international community as a result of the military takeover of 1994 and the appalling human rights and governance records of the APRC regime.
Good Neighbourliness in the Sub Region
- We shall endeavour to maintain good fraternal relations with all countries in the sub-region particularly Senegal with which we share an unparalleled affinity in all aspects of our existence.
- It shall be our policy to work with Senegal to establish a framework for regular consultation to review relations between the two countries with special attention on any difficulties that may arise in a particular time.
Regional, Sub-Regional and International Organizations
We strongly believe in sub-regional co-operation to promote peace, stability and development. The existing regional and sub-regional organizations such as ECOWAS provide a valuable framework for the realization of greater integration and development within the sub-region.
- ECOWAS needs to be strengthened and given the necessary resources to perform its mission objectives.
- With respect to the plethora of small sub regional organizations that, in many cases, duplicate each other’s efforts, it shall be our policy to seek to reduce the number of such organizations in the interest of efficiency and resource savings.
- As regards international organizations such as IOC, UN, GATT, Commonwealth, World Bank and IMF, we shall continue to play an active part to promote Gambian interest in these organizations.
Partnership with Donors
The Gambia has depended a lot on the generous assistance of the donor community in pursuit of its development objectives. Without their assistance the country would have been a lot poorer than it is today. We shall build on the support of our development partners within the context of a renewed national commitment to serving the interest of the Gambian people.
The role of our Armed Forces, the Police and other security agents is to defend the sovereignty of the country and maintain peace and stability for all Gambians.
The UDP shall;
- Provide adequate resources and needed equipment for the effective defence of our country.
- Maintain a well trained and disciplined force that would respect the human rights and civil liberties of all Gambians and adhere to the constitution and other laws of the republic.
- Provide improved professional military and other training facilities to allow the army to play a useful role in the development process especially in the areas of road and bridge constructions, gully erosion control and forest management, during peace time.
- The Police force will be strengthened to deal with crime and drug trafficking, which is becoming a national embarrassment.
The economic policy of the UDP is based on a free market principle, aimed at securing maximum economic growth through private sector growth initiatives and development, and better management of state assets and corporations.
We shall provide a sound economic environment using prudent fiscal and monetary policies that will aim to achieve the following:
The current tax policies and laws have given rise to a lot of uncertainties and de-motivation for investment and private sector growth. This shall be reviewed and eventually consolidated to provide the highest level of motivation for private sector growth and investments. In particular:
- The borehole tax of D50, 000.00 for agricultural enterprises is a serious impediment for development in that sector and shall removed.
- The high level of operational fees and charges on hotels and businesses has become a disincentive to development in these areas and shall be reviewed downwards.
- The high level of expatriate tax shall be reduced especially for skilled workers from ECOWAS countries, to encourage competence in economic management. Training opportunities shall also be made available to Gambian nationals to improve personal capacities and competency.
- The sales tax on insurance premiums goes on to aggravate the already very low savings position of the country and the UDP will exempt insurance premiums from taxation so as to encourage the development of the insurance industry and generate capital accumulation for investment.
- Monetary Policy
The object of our monetary policy will be to encourage investment and reduce inflation in the economy. The capacity of the central bank to manage and direct the monetary policy of the economy shall be enhanced.
The regulation and supervision of the financial services sector shall be strengthened to ensure its efficient and prudent operation and maximize protection for depositors’ funds.
A full liberal exchange rate policy will be maintained. Nonetheless, we will ensure that no one abuses the system to the detriment of a sound economy.
- Private Sector
We fully recognize the potentials of the private sector as an engine for growth. We shall support and encourage their activities through the provision of an enabling environment with minimum government intervention and interference.
In view of its pivotal role in the socio-economic development of this nation, the growth and development of the private sector shall be an essential and integral component of our overall economic policy.
- Ensure regular consultation with the private sector through its umbrella institution[s] on all issues of concern with the aim of putting in place friendly policies that encourage and facilitate growth.
- Consider the views of the private sector as an essential input in our overall economic policy formulations and implementations.
- Put in place institutional structures and mechanisms for capacity building, and to make the private sector more proactive and efficient in the execution of its functions.
- Encourage and support a healthy private sector partnership for speeding up of the achievement of our micro-economic objectives.
- Small business Development
The culture of small business development is not new to The Gambia. Our priority will be to strengthen institutional support for this sector. In doing so, we shall seek collaboration with the relevant agencies and organizations in the country, and institute a small business award scheme to encourage competition.
- Promoting Investment
- Place special emphasis on the promotion of investment by providing the necessary tax and other incentives.
- The current bureaucratic procedures faced by investors in the processing of claims under the Development Act, shall be streamlined and simplified to eliminate subjectivity and uncertainty.
- A special investment promotion body shall be established for the implementation of an aggressive investment policy aimed at bringing direct foreign investment into the country, encourage the local enterprises initiative and facilitate the transfer of technology and expertise.
- Tax incentives will be provided to private businesses that provide significant employment opportunities
- Power Supply
Power supply remains a major constraint to our development efforts. We need power for our industries, hotels and households. Yet we know electricity to be unavailable and where available, it is irregular and expensive.
- Increase the generating capacity and thus, the supply of electricity in the country.
- Improve the quality of service in distribution and management.
- Subsidise the high cost of electricity charged to our nascent industries and domestic consumers and thereby improving efficiency and competitiveness in our industries, and increased per capita income in the country.
- Alternative energy sources will be evaluated and exploited to diversify our options and reduce our dependence on diesel engines, components and fuel which we imperatively have to import.
- The bridge barrel project will be revisited with a view to establishing its feasibility for implementation.
The UDP government shall provide an enabling environment for employment creation. In this regard the reforms envisaged in the agricultural sector as well as anticipated investment in the manufacturing and tourism sectors will lead to the creation of new jobs especially for young people. A culture of self-employment will also be promoted.
- Invest in the human resources of The Gambia and provide the necessary skilled labour force required for our economic take-off.
- Employers will be obliged to invest a minimum amount in training their own work force to make a contribution to the national training effort.
- People will be trained to acquire skills relevant to every aspect of the economy - agriculture, manufacturing, trade and the service industries.
- Give women real and equal opportunities to work; with equal rights and status under the law.
- Transport and Communication
For a vibrant and sustainable economic development, business people need good roads and reliable communication facilities. The conditions of the road and communication facilities in The Gambia today are unacceptable. The road networks have remained all the time largely seasonal and the national radio hardly covers the entire country satisfactorily while the national television serves no purpose other than exclusively promoting the president’s political propagandas and personal whims.
- Open the country to business by developing our road networks.
- Priority will be given to the north bank of the river which has endemically suffered from getting less than its fair share of the country’s paved road network.
- The Radio, TV and telecommunication services will be upgraded and given greater autonomy in programming and operations.
- Private investment in Radio, TV and telecommunications services shall be accorded the enabling policy environment it deserves.
- Information technology development will be given a high priority to enable the acquisition of knowledge by our people in this connected global sphere.
- The Banjul International Airport and Seaport shall be developed to maintain the Gateway concept for The Gambia.
One of the main impediments to our nation’s development is low agricultural productivity. High agricultural productivity does raise living standards, reduce poverty and help create a healthy and vibrant rural population. Agriculture has also proven to be a good source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. However, with the collapse of the groundnut sub-sector, thanks to the misguided policies of the APRC regime, it is imperative that agriculture be given a new life if its foreign exchange earning potentials are to be fully realised and if The Gambia is to attain the status of food sufficiency.
The UDP will develop a national agricultural policy to tackle low agricultural productivity and to decentralize access to credit and other agricultural services by introducing programs in the following areas;
- Increasing the yield of the land under cultivation
This will require better access to farm equipment, more efficient agricultural extension services, stock-seed storage and management, and fertilizer subvention.
- Increasing the land area under cultivation
- pursue an active policy to place more Marsh/swamp lands under rain-fed and irrigated rice cultivation;
- Construct small dams and de-salinization plants coupled with the introduction of water conservation projects to help augment the number of hectares of land that can be cultivated.
- Support the construction of causeways and footbridges to ease access and movements to and from rice fields.
- Improve Credit Service
Access to credit is an important determinant for increased productivity. Today, access to credit by farmers and the dynamic marketing of their produce is almost non-existent. We shall develop a graduated and responsive credit system that addresses the various credit needs and categories of farm production.
- Provision of Agricultural Inputs
The UDP Government will take bold and innovative steps to ensure that agricultural inputs are delivered on a timely basis and in adequate quantities to farmers at reasonable prices. Availability of good quality seedlings and stock-seed will be given special attention through, among other things, encouragement of government and private institutions and nurseries.
We will address issues relating to farmers at the grassroots level by providing back-up support services in the form of training and providing incentives. Village seed banks will also be established.
- Marketing Services
Increased productivity will require market outlets. A network of markets will need to be developed especially for the food crops and horticultural produce that will ensure fair-market value for the producers. We shall:
- Encourage and support the development of such markets at national, sub-regional and international levels.
- ensure that the marketing crisis of the groundnut sub-sector that has brought untold hardship on our farming community and deprived the country of a good foreign exchange earning venue is resolved once and for all. This will be done through a combination of co-operation with all the stakeholders and active government involvement in the marketing of farmers’ produce.
- Appropriate policies will be formulated on processing and preservation of seasonally available agricultural products to increase incomes and availability during other times of the year.
- Research and Development
We shall develop effective programs to improve the quality and yield of produce. The successful results of these research projects will be introduced nationwide through efficient and strengthened extension services.
We shall nurture a participatory, multidisciplinary and demand-driven public and private research strategy through which a variety of crop strains and a healthy livestock management system can be developed.
- Institutional Reform and Adaptation
To support the objective of greater agricultural productivity, the role of the institutions in the agricultural sector will be reviewed and adapted to face the new challenges. In this respect, The Gambia Co-operative Union shall be recognized revived and strengthened with greater autonomy in the discharge of its duties.
A sustainable system of agricultural land distribution and tenure will accompany institutional reform.
The National Agricultural Research Institute will be enabled and strengthened to develop agricultural technologies that are environment-friendly and adapted to Gambia’s socio-economic conditions.
- The Soil and Water Management
The Soil and Water Management Unit (SSWMU) shall be upgraded and expanded to make available more land for rice and vegetable production within the framework policy of Food self-sufficiency. This unit will implement plans to mitigate upland soil erosion and other agricultural land degradation problems.
- Agricultural Diversification
Agricultural diversification provides another opportunity to raise farm income. In addition to the traditional tree-crops, we shall promote the introduction of improved varieties of fruit trees and vegetables. The planting of these new and diversified varieties of crop will augment revenue and improve soil-cover to prevent further erosion. The annual tree-planting project will be reinstated within the UDP’s Reforestation policy framework.
The UDP fully recognizes the potential of this sub-sector both in terms of nutritional value and foreign exchange earnings. We shall formulate and implement appropriate policies for its sustainable development and enhancement.
We will also encourage diversification and efficient management of our fishery resources with a view to optimize nutritional value and incomes of the cross section of our society.
Education is essential to the development of our economy. In view of this, the UDP regards the development of our human resources through education as a prerequisite to the achievement of our economic development goals including poverty alleviation. We therefore regard education as a basic right of all Gambians. We are committed to providing universal access to primary education and to improve the intake for secondary and vocational education. This will ensure the full participation of all citizens in the socio-economic development of our nation.
Provision of Quality Basic Education
- The current Education Policy on basic education shall be regularly reviewed with the objective of providing quality basic education for all Gambian children, with improved teaching standards and material resourcing
- The conditions of teachers shall be improved to attract more Gambians to the teaching profession.
- Our Basic education policy will provide opportunity and facilities for all citizens to be literate and numerate and help them cultivate knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable them to earn a good living, improve their social and health circumstances, be patriotic citizens, and. understand the complexities and opportunities of the modern world.
- We shall increase and consolidate the number and quality of secondary schools in the country to give an increased level of opportunity for children passing the primary level examinations.
- A more comprehensive and thought-out university development program that addresses our needs shall be developed to replace the current ad-hoc arrangement.
- We shall have a policy of promoting and providing vocational and skills training to meet the needs of our economy.
Training of Personnel
- The effective implementation of our education policy requires a comprehensive and coordinated policy for the professional development of all education personnel. This is important and critical for teachers at all levels of our education system. Training shall either be internal or external according to need.
- Careful attention shall be given to devising low-cost training strategies like school-based training and the use of distance learning.
- In addition to training educational managers, the implementation of our education policy shall require improved co-ordination of all education services in order to enable us monitor and evaluate all education programs and projects nationwide.
We shall endeavour to increase funding to the education sector with the aim of increasing access and enhancing quality. This shall entail:
- Increase in central government funding with increased support to basic education.
- Local governments shall be required to commit substantial support to education.
- Development of self-help schemes for funding education shall be encouraged.
- External assistance to basic education through investment and donations shall be encouraged.
- None-governmental agencies and intergovernmental organizations’ contribution shall be solicited
The Gambia had developed a very good primary health care system during the previous regime- obviously this preceded the 1994 Military takeover. That system needs to be reinstated and greatly improved upon.
The UDP shall;
- Revisit, consolidate, and improve the previous primary care system that worked well
- Promote preventative healthcare so as to cut down on onset of illnesses and in turn cutting down on healthcare costs. Immunization of children will be a priority.
- Actively promote reproductive health initiatives including sound family planning.
- Promote sound environmental management as part of our strategy to improve the overall health of the population. This will lead to better food production and healthier and adequate meals.
- The department of health will be given resources that will enable them to monitor and enforce the production, importation, and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs.
- In keeping with the Bamako initiative, we shall carry out a systematic decentralization programme of the health care management, delivery and personnel to ensure good accessibility and affordability for all Gambians.
Drug Abuse and Control
- We recognize the danger that drugs pose to our society and economy. We shall prepare appropriate policy measures to prevent drug abuse and institute a rehabilitation programme for drug addicts.
- We shall tighten our drugs control measures and ensure that our country does not become a safe heaven and springboard for international drug traffickers.
The UDP strongly believes in social justice. It shall therefore strive consistently to ensure that disparities in economic and social conditions are reduced in the interest of social justice and harmony.
We shall adopt a systematic policy to improve the social conditions of the disadvantaged groups in our society, who are largely farmers, women, urban unemployed etc by narrowing the gap in the life chances, employment opportunities and real incomes. We shall in this regard insist on the following priority issues:
- Poverty Alleviation
It is estimated that 60% of the Gambian population suffer from absolute poverty. In terms of food poverty, about 65% of the Gambian population are food poor. What is particularly lamentable is that women constitute the majority of this deprived segment of the population. The UDP is therefore committed to collaborate with development partners in embarking poverty eradication programs with particular emphasis on food security.
Of equal importance, is the development of cottage industries and medium scale enterprises. In this regard, emphasis will be placed on income generating employment opportunities, establishment of skill centres and the development of a national capacity for employment creation.
We are equally committed to providing sound healthcare system that places particular emphasis on safe motherhood, family planning, child survival, proper nutrition, control of common endemic diseases, health promotion, protection and provisional of essential drugs and vaccines. The ultimate objective is to, among other things, provide the environment for a reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates whiles simultaneously ensuring significant improvements in the quality of service as well as their efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.
In the context of education, we will:
- Continue to recognize the importance of the contribution of technical and vocational training to the economy, through the provision of adequate financing and support to the sector.
- Area councils will be involved in educational investment decisions.
- Parents will be expected to contribute, within their means, to the cost of their children’s schooling through user charges.
- Foster the autonomy of national training institutions through a policy of decentralization, which will allow them to seek their own solutions to their problems, and to forge closer link with their Labour market.
- By the same token, we will place emphasis on non-formal education as a means of assisting early school leavers, women and adults in need of marketable skills.
- Facilitate the development of national capacities to initiate and manage programs as well as projects both at local community and national levels.
- Protecting Women and Children
Women and children constitute two of the most vulnerable groups in our society and they experience the more acute forms of social ills of society such as poverty and deprivation. In the interest of social justice and harmony the constraint raced by these groups needs to be addressed as a national priority.
We are committed to protecting all the rights of women and children and increase the level of opportunities as a matter of national priority.