The European Union (EU) resolution to act on the Gambia has prompted a positive response from opposition parties and pro-democracy groups campaigning for rule of law and respect of human rights to prevail in the country.
“The action of the EU to put targeted sanctions on the leadership of the country is a decision on the right direction,” Omar Amadou Jallow of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said.
Last Thursday, EU law makers expressed deep concerns over the Gambia’s political crisis that reached its climax on April 14, and 16 when authorities decided to launch a full-scale crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding for ‘proper electoral reforms’. The police repression, which ensued led to the arrest and torture to death of Solo Sandeng, one of the initiators of the protest march. The EU called for the immediate release of all protestors arrested during this demonstration for electoral reform ahead of presidential elections scheduled for December 2016. “EU and its member states should consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the government of The Gambia and imposing travel bans or other targeted sanctions on officials responsible for serious human rights abuses,” reads the motion endorsed by the regional bloc.
Throwing his weight behind the European bloc, Omar Amadou Jallow urged the EU to exercise ‘real pressure’ on President Yahya Jammeh to be “more tolerant and democratic. They (EU) should now impose travel bans on Jammeh and his close associates including his wife,” he said.
An outstanding Gambian human rights activist also touted the EU move. Malik Kah, who chairs Senegambian Human Rights Defense League, said it is not a surprise became at some point it was in the horizon building. “It started with the EU 17-point agenda demands formulated within the Cotonou Agreement,” Kah recalled.
“The Gambia has been spitting on their face all the time, but the advent of the Islamic Republic must have concentrated their minds and the UDP events give the good reason to act. I think they have woken to smell the coffee,” he said.
Since April 14th, the Gambia has been embroiled in a crisis that would most likely herald a new era in the country’s political history. The EU move is the last of series of actions taken by the international community to restore rule of law and human rights in the Gambia.