Gambia’s firebrand veteran politician, and political scientist Lamin Waa Juwara, says he has no qualms with the ongoing calls for the prosecution of outgoing dictator Yahya Jammeh, once the new administration under the leadership of President elect Adama Barrow assumes office. Mr. Juwara, is a former Local Government Minister, with the Jammeh regime. He was recently released from prison after been found guilty on charges of negligence of duty, a conviction he describes as politically motivated.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Freedom Radio Gambia, on Wednesday, Mr. Juwara said it is about time for African governments to be taught a lesson. He noted that one being a President doesn’t give him, or her the blank check to abuse his office.
Hear Mr. Juwara’s position on recent calls for Jammeh’s prosecution after his fall: “Well I cannot said blankly. These are things that need to be investigated. If there are things that demand prosecution; let it go ahead. Let it go ahead. Nobody should be above the law. And in fact, African governments should be taught a lesson. That is that being a President is not that you are above the law.”
Mr. Juwara tells Freedom Radio Gambia that he is a victim of dictator Jammeh’s power abuse. He recalled being tortured and imprisoned on numerous occasions on trumped up charges. Juwara said his last imprisonment had to do with a land related dispute case in which dictator Jammeh was a party to the dispute, and he (Jammeh) wanted to scapegoat him for a case he was not aware of. Mr. Juwara said his trial was instigated by dictator Jammeh, who uses judicial staffers to falsely imprison him.
According to Mr. Juwara, the magistrate, who sat on his case, was just called one morning and instructed to deliver a judgment on a case he the (magistrate) was clueless about. He was being punished by Jammeh because of an interview he granted to Freedom Radio and the Voice of America radio (VOA), few days before the new magistrate sentenced him to prison.
“Nobody can justify sending me to prison for something that happened. You said neglect of duty. Then when I was not Minister. In 2011, I was not Minister. I became Minister in 2012. So, I could not have been responsible of any neglect of duty in connection to certain land issues that he claims to belong to him, and that they were taken by some other people. I think I was victimized because of one of the interviews that I had… I think with you and VOA. That’s my feeling. Oh yes.. I am saying that categorically,” said Mr. Juwara.
Mr. Juwara is a diabetes patient. He tells Freedom Radio that his diabetes attacked him while in jail. He deplores the prison conditions in The Gambia.
“ I was ill because of the past imprisonment. My diabetes developed because of the food conditions there. The conditions in the prisons were very bad. It is appalling to say the least. The situation is treble. Because I was there before. In the early rule, it was much better than what it is today. And the food condition is treble. Every aspect of prison life is prudent to death. Prisoners were dying in my own presence. And we are asking if the Barrow government is sworn in to release all the prisoners; to give them pardon because I am not even sure if most of those people really they have committed any crime. There are certain functions of the judiciary that are questionable,” Juwara lamented.
Mr. Juwara also talked about Mr. Jammeh’s recent attempt to challenge the outcome of the elections in court. Mr. Juwara is of the view that Jammeh should facilitate a safe transfer of power than contesting a lost battle.
“I don’t think he has a case. I am a Barrow supporter. I was happy when the results were declared. I talked to a lot of important people across the country to support Barrow and vote for him. So really for me.. it would be very difficult to convince me,” said the former Niamina Dankunku Parliamentarian.
On the issue of the proposed ECOWAS troop recently formed to intervene in Gambia’s unfinished political impasse, Mr. Juwara said he is opposed to any form of outside military intervention to resolve the political debacle.
“Well it is not very clear to me, that is what is on the cart. But I would not normally want anything to happen in The Gambia, that will bring in foreign troops from anywhere. I think candidly Jammeh should accept defeat because of the number of years he spent in power. And the fact that he came to power through a coup and through an election,” he said.
“Well that can bring danger to life and properties in the country. This is such a small country. I think Jammeh should just accept the results and in the interest of the country, just quit,” he added.
Mr. Juwara said he is very hopeful that President elect Adama Barrow is going to be officially sworn in on January 19th. He appealed to his supporters, and that of his colleagues in the opposition to remain calm and law abiding during the days leading to the inauguration and inauguration. He said the recent political change has ushered a new chapter in Gambia’s political life—ending dictatorship, climate of fear, and repression. He urged dictator Yahya Jammeh to reconsider his recent change of heart and concede defeat in the interest of peace, national unity and stability. Mr. Juwara reminded Jammeh that civilized and democratic nations are now advocating for term limits for the Presidency, and not self-perpetual rule. He said Jammeh has been in power for over twenty two years, and he should respect the wishes and aspirations of The Gambian people demonstrated in the past elections.
Mr. Juwara said he will accept to serve in President elect Barrow’s government if avail with the opportunity. He calls on Gambians to remain united and take part in nation rebuilding.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai