Speaking today at a news conference, the leader of the opposition APRC party Fabakary Tombong Jatta, accused the Gambian armed forces of imposing an “illegal curfew” in Kanilai, the home village of former President Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Jatta said the Kanilai villagers have been exposed to routine harassment, arrest and detention by the soldiers stationed at the village for violating what he called “ the illegal curfew imposed by the army.” Jatta opines that for such curfew to be legal, it must be properly promulgated as stipulated by the constitution of the Gambia.
“ I went to Kanilai, and I will tell you, there is curfew in Kanilai. There was curfew in Kanilai; illegal curfew imposed by the military; because you come out after ten o’clock you are picked up,” he alleged.
The Gambian army command could not be reached for immediate comment to react to Mr. Jatta’s accusations. Mr. Jatta used the news conference to deplore the situation of human rights in the Gambia. He accuses the Barrow government of cracking down on APRC supporters for no just cause. He referenced the Kanfenda incident, in which the supporters of the opposition Untied Democratic Party, and the supporters of the former ruling APRC, had an altercation, resulting to the arrest of some APRC supporters from Kanilai.
“ Allah would decide when Barrow would go. You cannot impose your will on the people. We decide that we are going to be an opposition with a difference. We said this a million times. We are not the type of opposition, who would just criticize just for the sake of criticizing. If they do something good, we will hail them. If they do bad, we will do the same thing. We would engage them,” the former Parliamentarian remarked.
“We believe that if they do good or bad, if their term ends they will go. Even if they are killing Gambians every day; if Allah says they will continue to rule for this number of years, they will continue to rule whether we like it or not. So, if they want peace, we want peace more. They have the responsibility to ensure peace; to ensure justice; and to treat all citizens as equals; and not to treat one region differently from the other region,” Mr. Jatta added.
Mr. Jatta also talked about the economic hardship in the country. He said Gambian families are finding it extremely hard to put food on the table. He called on the Barrow government to prioritize economic recovery in its quest to develop the country.
“Gambians are undergoing a lot of hardship in this Ramadan in terms of hardship. Please, please, let them think about how to improve the living standards of Gambians. For those people like Momodou Turo Darboe and Vision Development Foundation; who have been going around the country providing; trying to alleviate people’s hardships; providing help to some people; providing bulls to some people, etc; we want to thank them and all those, who helped ordinary Gambians,” Jatta remarked.
When confronted with Jammeh’s past human right record, Mr. Jatta said some of the allegations against his former leader are yet to be substantiated before a court of law. He denied having knowledge about some of the killings being associated to the former dictator Jammeh.
“You are talking about allegations. Have I seen anybody tortured? I am not aware. I am hearing that people have been killed. I have not seen any evidence so far to say that these people have been killed. One thing, I know of was the death of Solo Sandeng; the causes I don’t know. I know he was arrested. They were on demonstration and they got arrested. That much I know. But for Haruna Jatta, he was not arrested. He was shot with a live bullet,” Jatta said adding that the late Solo Sandeng and co were allegedly engaged in a violent protest thereby destroying a car belonging to a Gambian, who was visiting from America at the time.
He says he believes in sanctity of life adding “No life should be taken. I believe that no life should be taken illegally. I don’t want to work on assumptions. I have heard that Foday Makalo was killed etc, etc. Foday later died in Mali, and was brought here. People have the rights to resort to the courts. If people have information that so and so person are behind the killings, go ahead and report the matter to the police.”
Mr. Jatta also said the members of the National Assembly are empowered by the constitution to impeach president Barrow for abdicating his sworn duties as prescribed by the constitution. He said the failure on the side of president Barrow to appoint a Vice president, as dictated by constitution amounts to abdication of duties, and should not be left unchallenged. Jatta says he has great respect and admiration for the overseer of the post Fatoumatta Tambajang Jallow, but he maintained that the constitution should not be flouted by the Executive. He called on president Barrow to appoint a Vice president to avoid a potential impeachment.
Mr. Jatta also criticized the recent deportation of Gambians from the United States. He said Gambian immigrants have been contributing immensely in the nation’s socio-economic development. Hence, he said, he is opposed to the deportations. He said one of the reasons why Yahya Jammeh, was despised by the west, was largely due to his loved for country, and sovereignty of the Gambia. He cited the recent Saudi move to sever ties with Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries because of western appeasement. He said under an APRC rule, no country will dictate or decide the countries that the Gambia will befriend.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
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