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Gambian Opposition Leader Denies Defecting to the Government

In the Gambia, the leader of the opposition National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) said he did not defect to the ruling APRC party led by President Yahya Jammeh despite the fact that Lamin Waa Juwara has said he wants to work in close collaboration with the government. He recently called on opposition parties in the Gambia to overlook their differences and work with the government in the interest of the nation.

Juwara told VOA his actions are in line with a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006 by all political parties in the Gambia under the auspices of the auspices of the Commonwealth.

“The opposition parties in the Gambia and the ruling party, on the third of February 2006, signed a Memorandum of Understanding which was brokered by the Commonwealth. In this we all agreed that in the higher interest of the Gambia that we agreed to reconcile in the interest of our country. And my own party, which is the National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM), is simply honoring that. And we did put in place the inter-party committee to extend this very idea to our own people so that the politics of confrontation would be in the past in the Gambia,” he said.

Juwara said his decision to collaborate with the government of President Yahya Jammeh does not mean he agrees with everything the government is doing.

“Absolutely not! I have been the most vocal critical of this government. But I endorsed the last election as free and fair and then subscribed to the Memorandum of Understanding. Ii cannot continue to work in the same way. I cannot every time say that everything he has done is wrong. I will be objective, and if there is anything wrong I will say,” Juwara said.

Juwara rejected any suggestion that he has been bought by the Jammeh government.

“Gambians are better judges. Everybody knows the party chairman than I am, and I think he made that absolutely clear in the meeting that I am not the person that you can buy. I am one person that will never leave this country. I made absolutely clear in public that I will stay, and if I see anything in this government that is wrong, I will say it but no negative solution, “ Juwara said.

He dismissed any suggestion that by signing the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding with the Jammeh government the opposition abandoned its role as a watchdog on the government.

“I think the role of the opposition is to make government accountable. That doesn’t mean that once you are in opposition, you will acknowledge anything good that the government is doing. I think that is responsible for all the problems that we have been having. If anybody thinks that I am a sell-out tell them let them come back home. I will never move. I am going to engage the government at any level, and if I see something that is wrong, I’m going to say. But it is those people who ran away, who were looking for greener pastures that will always castigate anybody. Let them come back home. But nobody is going to dictate to us what we are going to do,” Juwara said.