As President Yahya Jammeh failed to turn up to the just concluded ECOWAS Summit in Dakar, the Gambia continues to be under mounting pressure over the prolonged political crisis marked by draconian crackdown on the opposition.
“It is overdue for ECOWAS to take action against Gambia,” Mai Ahmad Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) told this reporter.
On Saturday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)urged Gambian security forces to “avoid excessive use of force against citizens” and announced plan to send a technical mission to Gambia ahead of December polls. Since April 14, there has been a political crisis in the country that has left United Democratic Party (UDP) youth leader Solo Sandeng dead and dozens of supporters arrested including their party leader Ousainou Darboe.
Mai Ahmad Fatty warned of increasing human rights violations by the Jammeh regime and said ECOWAS is obligated to assist member states.
Gambian activist lawyer Assan Martin, who spoke to this reporter, welcomed the move taken by the regional bloc to send a task team to Banjul in order to engage both govt and the opposition on how to create a stable environment conducive to national elections.
“The aim is to put pressure for ECOWAS to act effectively on Gambian issue. The technical mission will be monitored to report back on the pre-election environment for free and fair election,” he stated.
Lawyer Martin cast doubt on the feasibility of credible elections in December as the govt continues to defy the regional and the international community.
In a similar vein, the Coalition for Change in The Gambia (CCG) and the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) that gathered on June 1-2 in Dakar called on ECOWAS to act on Gambia.
The group raised the alarm over rapid deterioration of rule of law, further erosion of human rights, enforced disappearances, arrests of opposition party members, torture, illegal detention and extrajudicial executions, rape and sexual violence against women, as well as wanton abuse of executive power in The Gambia, civil society groups said in a statement issued Sunday.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN