By Omar Bah
APRC leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta, has rubbished reports that his party is engaged in negotiations with President Adama Barrow for a possible future alliance.
In a Senn FM exclusive to be aired this Sunday, the former House Majority Leader stated: “We have not discussed Jammeh’s return or any plan of political alliance with Barrow and there are no such talks. I want to assure all our supporters that the APRC will continue to defend the interest of this country and we will not hesitate to challenge Barrow whenever we deem it necessary.”
Given Barrow’s public fallout with his former party the UDP, his expressed will to contest future elections, and the inclusion of a 50+1 percentage requirement to be elected president in a Third Republican constitution, local analysts believe moves are being made by various parties to form alliances.
Jatta said a vigorous “unjustified character assassination” campaign being orchestrated by the United Democratic Party is giving his party a challenge in provincial Gambia.
“Supporters of the UDP are going round the country telling people the APRC is not in existence or that the party has been banned. This is seriously affecting the party in the provinces. Our [recent] tour was very impressive but wherever we go people will tell us these people came here to tell us the APRC is no more,” he said
He said the majority of Gambians still have high regard for the APRC and former president Jammeh, claiming: “Our tour has demonstrated to us we have the prospect of bouncing back in the soonest possible time and our overall assessment is that Gambians still love the APRC and Yahya Jammeh. It is just that people are being brainwashed by the UDP, whose target is to destabilise the APRC.
“They are the same people claiming Barrow has given us money. We want to know why they are following us. There are many political parties in this country, but it is only the UDP who are treating the APRC like this, and we are happy now that they (UDP) have shifted their campaign to Barrow.”
However, Mr Jatta admitted that the North Bank Region, a former stronghold of his party is no longer a good hunting ground for the greens. The region comprise the Baddibus, Niumis and Jokadu district. Political observers concur that the region is now firmly in the grip of UDP and GDC.
But Mr Jatta who was himself born in Niumi, said their chances are brighter elsewhere, stating: “[Generally] we have realised during the tour that Gambians are very disappointed about the Coalition government and they are very desperate for the APRC to come back to power. We have also informed our supporters that we have made mistakes, but if we bounce back we will learn from those mistakes.”
The APRC leader stated that going by the 1997 Constitution’s transitional clause of Section 13-14, which clearly states that events of July 22, 1994 to 1996 cannot be subjected to any investigations, the TRRC probe of events in this period is illegal.
“We are not saying there should be no investigation, but the Constitution should have been amended first. The decision of the president to allow the commission to start its investigations from 22 July 1994 is a complete violation of the Constitution and he can be impeached for that by the National Assembly. The Minister of Justice should have advised the president,” FTJ said.
Jatta said given the fact of the TRRC’s supposed unconstitutional probe, his party will not cooperate with the hearings, saying what happened under Jammeh does not warrant a truth commission.
Asked whether Jammeh will be willing to testify at the TRRC, FTJ replied: “I am very sure that Yahya Jammeh will not have any problem facing the TRRC and I am sure he can provide answers to any question.”
Mr Jatta admitted killings took place under former President Jammeh, but claimed they were isolated incidents just like the killings under Barrow.