Gambian opposition leader Omar Jallow of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has decried the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the military takeover that brought to power Yahya Jammeh, describing the move as ‘illegal’.
“You cannot glorify illegality. Everybody knows that a coup d’état is an illegal action condemned by international and local laws. Even those who tried to do what Jammeh did have been sentenced to life imprisonment,” he told this reporter.
On July 22, 1994 a group of young Gambian army officers led by Yahya Jammeh overthrown President Sir Dawda K. Jawara, putting an end to 30 years of PPP regime. Since then, the tiny country West African has entered into a series of attacks on the media, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and continuous clampdown on civil liberties that have left Gambians under the rule of fear.
While considering the issue of democracy, PPP’s Omar Jallow mocked Jammeh’s blatant contradictions in commemorating a coup d’état under a ‘democratic’ system. “I could not understand how a government that is purported to be a democratically elected for the last 15 years still celebrates illegality and glorifies treasonable action.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Amnesty International has joined forces with other human rights organizations for a global day of action marking 20 years since President Jammeh seized power.
“Journalists, human rights defenders, political activists and other Gambians are frequently targeted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression. A series of laws adopted since President Jammeh came to power in 1994 makes it possible for these violations to take place with almost total impunity and discourages victims from seeking redress,” reads the statement.
However, former Speaker Hon. Fatou Jahumpa Ceesay said the July 22, 1994 is worth celebrating in a big way. “A lot of things have happened
in all sectors in this country. President Yahya Jammeh has brought development in The Gambia.”
Hon. Fatou Jahumpa Ceesay, who is a prominent member of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), rejected the notion that Gambia is confronted with a decline of democracy.
“Democracy is not just to go and vote. Democracy is giving peace to your people, bringing economic stability. There is too much talk within the ranks of the opposition. It is time for them to appreciate the good work President Jammeh is doing. ”
Written by Abdoulie JOHN