‘For the past eighteen years the Jammeh regime has brought untold pain and sufferings to many Gambian families,’ MRDG
MOVEMENT FOR THE RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY IN THE GAMBIA
Message of Hope on the Occasion of the 48th Independence Anniversary of The Republic of The Gambia
The Republic of The Gambia attained its independence from Great Britain on 18th February, 1965, with Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara as Prime Minister. Following a national referendum on 24th April, 1970, The Gambia became a Republic within the Commonwealth. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara became the First President and remained in office as Head of State until 22nd July, 1994. His government was acclaimed worldwide as one of the most democratic with total respect for human and people’s rights which guaranteed its citizens all the fundamental rights as provided for in the constitution.
As a direct result of his strong attachment to the principles of democracy, the African Union adopted the Banjul Charter which gave birth to the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and location of its head office in Banjul, The Gambia.
On 22 July, 1994, the constitutionally-elected government of President Jawara was overthrown by the very army he created. The military junta was led by a Lieutenant Yaya Jammeh who later promoted himself to the rank of a Colonel.
Colonel Jammeh has since then transformed himself into a civilian Head of State; he organized a national referendum in 1996 to usher in the 2 constitution of the 2 Republic. Mr Jammeh and his ruling APRC party has won all the presidential and legislative elections in 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011, and is currently serving a fourth term of five years and the next elections are due in 2016.
Impunity by the Gambian regime
On this important day for all Gambians, we wish to use the opportunity to congratulate the people of The Gambia, both those at home and in the Diaspora. Gambians everywhere today have a common goal which is how to end the despotic regime of Yaya Jammeh.
For the past eighteen years the Jammeh regime has brought untold pain and sufferings to many Gambian families. Arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, disappearances, extra judicial executions are the characteristics of the Jammeh regime. Gambians, our neighbours in the sub region, the African Union, the European Union and the International Community at large have accurate information on the crimes perpetrated by the Jammeh regime on its citizens. We recall the recent executions of nine death row prison inmates as well as the detention and gruesome torture of Imams Bakawsu Fofana and Baba Leigh. Since his unlawful arrest from his home on December 3rd, 2012, nobody has had access to Imam Baba Leigh.
Gambians are reminded about the assassination of Minister of Finance Ousman Koro Ceesay and Journalist Deyda Hydara, as well as the executions of some 49 West African nationals the majority of whom were Ghanians in July 2005. How can Gambians forget about the shootings and killings of some 14 school children on the orders of Yaya jammeh. The number of soldiers and other security personnel executed including Daba Marena and his group will be known only on the demise of the Jammeh regime.
Therefore on this day, Gambians everywhere should renew their commitment to the ongoing genuine struggle to change the Jammeh regime. In this regard we commend each and every Gambian for their contribution in whatever way. At the same time we shall continue to appeal to all of us to harmonize our activities so that we can put up a strong united opposition against the Jammeh regime.
We would also like to thank and pay tribute to the people of Senegal for their hospitality, understanding and sympathy. Senegal is well known for its history of Teranga (hospitality) and it has provided sanctuary for many people fleeing oppression from their various governments.
African Special Court
The government of Senegal under HE President Macky Sall has demonstrated political goodwill and should be congratulated by Africa for recently implementing the decision of the African Union to establish the Africa Special Court with the competence to bring to justice those African leaders who have committed crimes against their people during their rule. This is a great achievement and a precedence constituting a source of hope to many victims of despotic African regimes in our sub region for the future.
HE President Sall Invitation to Independence Anniversary
We are informed through the Senegalese press that HE President Sall has been invited as the Guest of Honour to the 48th Independence anniversary of our country. This is both interesting and progressive. Interesting because Gambians know that Yaya Jammeh has not accorded the Independence Day the importance it deserves over the past eighteen years. Instead the 22nd July anniversary receives more attention and is celebrated with greater pomp. This simply means for strategic reasons there is urgency for Jammeh to invite the President of Senegal now instead of waiting for the July 22nd celebrations.
It is also a progressive step because we are confident that HE President Sall’s visit to Banjul shall confirm what he already knows about the Gambian regime. In addition to the usual issues on the south Senegal and MFDC, the Farafenni bridge project, Senegalese prisoners in The Gambia, it is very normal for the two leaders to meet and discuss other bilateral issues. Our worry is that Mr Jammeh has a track record for not keeping to his promises as in the past. However it is good for HE President Sall to visit the Gambia considering the fraternal relations and ties between our two countries. We recall that as an act of good neighborliness President Sall visited the Gambia first upon being elected as Head of State of Senegal. We hope he will succeed at ‘influencing’ Jammeh to implement a reform program in the Gambia that would guarantee basic freedoms and rights for the people of the Gambia. Their discussions should be frank and sincere, qualities that are very lacking in Jammeh. For example, Imam Baba Leigh and other prisoners of conscience like him should be freed immediately. The corpses of the nine executed prison in mates should be returned to their families immediately.
After all and in our judgment Senegal has a central role to play to stabilize democracy in West Africa. Today, the country remains the only democratically stable nation whose citizens enjoy total liberty in the real sense of the word. For instance a new Ministry for Good Governance is now established and the National Commission for Human Rights has been re-energized. The press in Senegal is one of the best in Africa. In effect whilst there is functioning democracy in Senegal when at the same time democracy is a rare commodity in neighbouring Gambia.
Motion of Appreciation
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Senegal, the religious and traditional leaders, the press and all others who continue to offer sanctuary to and solidarity with the many Gambian refugees in their country. We wish to place on record our gratitude to the many civil society groups and non- government organizations for their support and partnership.
On this auspicious occasion, we wish to appeal to the International Community, the African Union and all other democratic and rights institutions and organizations to support the efforts of the people of the Gambia in order to restore democracy, human rights and then rule of law to their country.
Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in The Gambia (MRDG) Dakar 18 February 2013