This week, agents of the Gambian National Drug Enforcement Agency raided the home of Ousainou Darboe, a lawyer and leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the Gambia?s largest opposition party. Darboe believes the government conducted the raid because it is an election year and the government wants to weaken his following. From the Gambian capital, Banjul, Darboe tells VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty what happened.

?The personnel of the National Drug Enforcement Agency, led by an inspector, came to my office and said that they wanted to search because they had information that I was concealing drugs in my office and I also had in my possession dangerous weapons and other incriminating materials?. At the end of their search I personally invited them to go to my home and conduct a search so that they would leave quite satisfied that I am not in possession of drugs, nor am I in possession of dangerous weapons.?

Darboe says the raid was intended to embarrass and harass him. He says the government did the same thing three years ago.

?I must say that in my practice I kept away from defending people charged with drug possession and trafficking in drugs to show the extent of my revulsion for that type of offense. I have kept away from defending people charged with rape to show my revulsion about that type of conduct because I consider it as violence against women. I don?t defend people charged with murder because I place high premium on the sanctity of life. But the Gambian government doesn?t see me that way. They think that I am a murderer; they think that I am a drug trafficker, and I think that all this is just to harass me and to provoke me.

Darboe says President Yahyah Jammeh views him as a political challenger and is trying to weaken his position by tainting his image. He says this latest instance is a repeat of the last election when Gambians were voting for president.

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