Ex-president Jammeh’s supporters arrested as tensions flare in Gambia

Gambian police said they arrested 51 people in a former stronghold of ex-president Yahya Jammeh for harassing followers of new leader Adama Barrow, amid lingering tensions following Mr. Jammeh’s flight into exile.

Mr. Jammeh narrowly lost a December 1 election to Mr. Barrow after 22 years of authoritarian rule.

Mr. Jammeh initially refused to step down but fled to Equatorial Guinea last month as international military forces descended on the capital Banjul to uphold the election result.

The 51 people were arrested on Sunday in the western town of Kafenda, a Jammeh stronghold, for insulting people returning from Mr. Barrow’s inauguration celebration at the national stadium on Saturday, said police spokesperson Foday Conta.

Some threw stones, Mr. Conta added.

Twenty-six of the arrested were juveniles and were released on bail, while 25 were being detained pending an investigation, Mr. Conta said.

A spokesman for the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), Mr. Jammeh’s party when he was in power, said those arrested were APRC supporters and were wearing t-shirts bearing an image of Jammeh’s face.

“They were provoked by the supporters of the coalition (Barrow’s party) who … were calling Jammeh all sorts of names and saying he was a killer. Then a quarrel ensued,” said spokesperson Seedy Njie.

Human rights groups accuse Mr. Jammeh of torturing and killing opponents during his time in power. Mr. Barrow has pledged to reverse many of Mr. Jammeh’s policies, including arbitrary detention.

Mr. Barrow vowed in his Saturday speech to enact sweeping reforms including bolstering a weakened economy.

 

Source: Reuters

Lasun rebukes ECOWAS for downplaying Nigeria’s role in The Gambia

The First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Yusuf Sulaiman Lasun, yesterday, angrily left a session of the parliament, in protest against what he described as lack of appreciation of Nigeria’s huge role in the body.

Lasun’s action was provoked by the statement of a Senegalese member of parliament (MP), Ibrahima Baba Sall, who ranked the contributions of his country in resolving the Gambian crisis above that of Nigeria.

Expressing his displeasure, Lasun told the parliamentarians that Nigeria’s famed ‘big brother’ role in the continent may be reviewed, if it is not properly recognised.

He advised the commission to visit the Acting President and write a letter wishing Buhari quick recovery.

While speaking to newsmen after he left the session, Lasun, lamented the disdain meted out to Nigeria despite funding ECOWAS by about 80 per cent. “If our leaders and Nigeria are not being accorded proper recognition, why are we here then?”

The Gambia: ECOWAS Leaders Meet On Saturday To Break Impasse

The Presidency said yesterday the discussion by leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to persuade The Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, to respect the wish of the people will continue in Abuja on Saturday.

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said the current Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, disclosed that discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders would meet in Abuja on Saturday.

According to the statement, the coalition of seven political parties that produced Adama Barrow, the President-elect, said they earnestly look up to President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy his vast experience, alongside other African leaders, to resolve the political logjam in the tiny West African country.

Adesina quoted Hamad Bah, one of the coalition members, who spoke with the media during the high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN Joint Mission to The Gambia, who said,  “We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so, he knows how the military thinks, and would be able to talk to him appropriately.

Reacting to the logjam, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has described Buhari’s involvement in the meeting as an aberration.

The governor said former President Goodluck

Jonathan, President John Mahama of Ghana and others who have lost elections and conceded defeat were in the best position to intervene in The Gambia’s election impasse.

According to his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said, “with what happened in Rivers State last weekend, it is certain that votes of Nigerians will no longer be allowed to count as the All Progressives Congress (APC) cabal has now assumed the role of INEC, allocating votes to their party and using security agents to force their will on the people.”

Fayose asked; “Did President Buhari face Jammeh and advise him to accept defeat the way he (Buhari) conceded defeat in 2003, 2007 and 2011.”

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The Gambia Becomes Islamic Republic

The Gambia has been declared an Islamic republic by President Yahya Jammeh who said he wanted to further distance the West African nation from its colonial past.

The tiny, formerly secular country joins the ranks of other officially Islamic republics such as Iran and Afghanistan.

“In line with the country’s religious identity and values I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state.

“As Muslims are the majority in the country, Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” Jammeh said on the state television.

The Gambia’s population of 1.8 million people are 95% Muslim. Jammeh said citizens of other faiths would still be able to practise.

Credit: Punch