By Omar Bah
The leader of the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction has denied allegations that his party connived with President Adama Barrow to reject the draft constitution promulgation bill.
Answering questions from the media at a press conference held in the aftermath of the defeat of the draft constitution at the National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta said the lawmakers who rejected the draft acted in the national interest.
“There is no iota of truth that we went to any form of negotiation, dialogue or talk with President Barrow and his people as regards to whatever might have happened in parliament as a party. We didn’t, if we did, we will tell you,” he told journalists yesterday.
The former Majority Leader added: “Those allegations are brought up by our detractors. We don’t hide whatever we do, we will do it openly. We have a right to decide on issues without the influence of anybody.”
FTJ also denied reports that Barrow is funding the APRC. “It is the biggest lie of the century. APRC’s strength is our members. And as we are going into the next election, we will soon be buying motorcycles and pickups. I swear to god if anybody tells you Barrow or anybody is funding us is lying. In the future, if anybody wants to do something for us, we will make it public,” he said.
He said the predicament the country is facing now “is as a result of the failure of the entire coalition members who allowed their personal interest and greed to override the interest of the Gambian people.
“When the coalition came to power it was almost a UDP government and we heard Barrow stating at the time that the UDP leader is his godfather and Ousainu Darboe also stating times without number that Barrow is our Barrow – he even went to the extent of saying whosoever asked Barrow to step down he will sue the person. But where are we today?” he asked.
He said APRC supporters had faced all forms of humiliation at the time but they remained.
The former lawmaker said the Coalition “was only interested in removing Jammeh but they had no plans to effect change. Gambians were far better off during Jammeh’s regime except for a few who were crying of human rights violation”.
“The APRC has been vindicated and we are laughing at them now because they have turned themselves into laughing stocks,” he said.
FTJ made it clear that the decision for former president Jammeh’s return entirely depends on him, arguing that “no government can stop Jammeh from coming back to this country if he so wishes”.
Asked whether Jammeh will be selected as the party’s next flagbearer, Jatta said that is a decision for the APRC general membership to make.
He appealed to the government to grant Yankuba Touray bail.
“I know Yankuba Touray, he will never run away. Let them release him and give him enough security to live with his family and be going to court. We appeal to President Barrow based on humanitarian grounds and due to the spread of Covid-19 especially within the ranks of the prisons to grant presidential pardon to the four soldiers who were arrested and are being investigated for being part of a WhatsApp chat group apparently engaged in alleged mutinous acts,” he said. He also appealed for the NIA officers on trial to be granted bail on humanitarian grounds.