(JollofNews) – The Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) Sunday unanimously re-elected Ousainou Darboe, who is ineligible to contest elections, as its flagbearer in this year’s presidential poll.
Ousainou Darboe, 67, who founded the UDP in 1996, is constitutionally barred from contesting presidential elections in the West African nation due to his age.
The Gambia will hold presidential elections in December 2016, with legislative and local polls to follow in April 2017 and April 2018. But under the 1997 constitution, people who have reached the age of 65 are barred from contesting elections.
The tiny West African nation of less than two million people has been ruled by Yahya Jammeh since 1994, when the then 29-year-old seized power in a bloodless coup.
Mr Darboe, a human rights lawyer with over 30 years legal experience, has contested and lost four previous elections against Mr Jammeh, who is seeking a fifth term.
The UDP leader has condemned the constitutional age limit which he
described as ‘very unfair’.
Speaking to a local newspaper on the eve of his 64th birthday, Mr Darboe said: “These are human arrangements that individuals of a certain age will not be qualified constitutionally to contest election but… well that is what we have and I believe it is a constitutional impediment; a very unfair one because we have seen people in their 80s contesting elections.
“The older you are the wiser you are and more mature. The way you handle the affairs of the state with maturity, you don’t do that in youthful age.”
He added: “Certainly if this government believes in democracy; believes that everyone has right to contest for presidency and it is the programmes not the age that matter, then they should lift that constitutional ban. Let us contest on ideas than age. If you are 80 with better ideas than someone who is 35 then Gambian people should be allowed to vote and see.”