Saturday, 24 October 2020
Profile: A.N.M Ousainu Darboe

A.N.M Ousainu Darboe

His Excellency A.N.M Ousainu Darboe (also known as Lawyer Darboe) is the leader and Secretary General of the United Democratic Party (UDP), and former vice president of the Republic of The Gambia. His father, the late Hon. Numukunda Darboe, was a member of parliament for Lower Fulladu West.

Born in 1948, in the village of Naini Dobo (Central Gambia), Darboe attended Bansang Primary School before proceeding to St. Augustine High School and Gambia High School in Banjul where he successfully completed his GCE O Level and A Level certificates respectively. He then left for Nigeria having won a commonwealth scholarship to study law. 

Darboe graduated from the University of Lagos with an honours degree in law (LLB Honours), and was called to the Federal Bar of Nigeria and subsequently to The Gambia Bar in 1973, after successfully completing the required training at the Federal Law School in Lagos. He also obtained a Masters Degree in law (LLM) from the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Legal career

Upon his return to The Gambia in 1973, Darboe worked at the Attorney General’s Chambers; first as a state counsel, then as Acting Registrar-General and subsequently legal draftsman. He resigned in 1980 and went into private practice. 

As a private lawyer, Darboe defended many of the alleged coup plotters of 1981, including the late Sherriff Mustapha Dibba, the then leader of the opposition National Convention Party (NCP), and Pap Cheyassin Secka, a lawyer, both of whom were charged with treason. He also successfully represented the majority of the people detained under the various Emergency Powers regulations promulgated by the PPP government of ex-president Jawara following the 1981 abortive coup. 

Darboe was a retained legal advisor for many leading private and public corporations including Gambia’s telecommunications giant, Gamtel, Continent Bank, Gambia Public Transport Corporation, and Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation. He was well known for providing regular legal advice and representation to disadvantaged members of the society on pro bono basis. 

He served the Gambia Bar Association as vice president for several years and still remains a leading member of the Bar. His involvement in politics is seen by many as a big personal sacrifice, albeit a sacrifice himself considers worthy of making if democracy was to be restored in The Gambia. ‘Somebody has to do it’, he would say. 

Darboe was also a member of The National Advisory Committee for the selection of judges to the International Court of Justice.

Political Career

Darboe entered politics in 1996 following the banning of all the major political parties of the first republic by the military junta which overthrew constitutional order in The Gambia in 1994, and having been chosen to lead the newly formed UDP. He took charge with resolve, steadfastness and dignity to see the return of democracy and the rule of law in The Gambia, and has never looked back or wavered. The succeeding two decades will prove to be both challenging and perilous, but this was a task Darboe was determined to see through and indeed, he saw it through.

Imprisonment

In April 2016, Darboe led a peaceful protest demanding the release of Ebrima Solo Sandeng (dead or alive), the UDP National Organising Secretary, who was arrested and killed while in state custody. He (Darboe) was arrested alongside several of his executive members and kept in solitary confinement at the Mile II State Prison for 8 months. His imprisonment excited strong resentment against ex-president Jammeh who lost the December 1st, 2016 presidential polls. Darboe was released from prison on the 5th December 2016 following a court order.

Ministerial career

Darboe was appointed and sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs on the 1st February 2017. The next day, he met with foreign diplomats accredited to The Gambia in an effort to rebuild bilateral relations and to restore the country’s lost image following 22yrs of dictatorial rule. 

The same week as Darboe’s swearing-in, the European Union confirmed that it would release to The Gambia €33Million in foreign aid that had been frozen in response to the deplorable human rights situation under the previous government. He was also instrumental in mobilising international support for the coalition government’s development blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP), culminating in the Brussels Donor Conference which fetched a whopping $1.7Billion in pledges. Darboe was appointed Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs on the 29th June 2018.

Personal life

Vice President Darboe is married with two wives and several children. The eldest, Mariama, is a graduate of Tulane University in the United States, with a Masters Degree in Public Health.

He is an avid sports enthusiast who served as the First Vice President of The Gambia National Olympic and Sports Committee for several years as well as Chairman of The Gambia Wrestling Federation.