By Omar Bah
With just four days to the presentation of the report of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, former president Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction has called on the government to throw the report into the dustbin just like it did to the Constitutional Review Commission’s draft constitution.
The party leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta made this demand in Banjul yesterday where he led supporters and senior executive members of the party to express their frustration and disappointment over the process of the truth commission and to present a petition to the government about it.
Addressing journalists shortly after delivering the petition to the Ministry of Justice, Fabakary Tombong Jatta complained about the appointment of TRRC’s chairperson Dr Lamine Sise, executive secretary Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, Adelaide Sosseh and Alagie Saidy-Barrow into the truth commission.
“So, because all these appointments were illegal, in our opinion anything that comes out of the TRRC is just tissue paper. Therefore, we demand for the government to listen to our perspective. We believe the TRRC report should be thrown into the dustbin just like the draft constitution. The report should be seen as illegal just like those who prepared it. The alleged crimes of the APRC regime cannot be established by an illegal commission,” FTJ said.
FTJ continued that his party has “no issues with its past crimes to be investigated but those doing so should be people of impeccable integrity and god-fearing”.
He said the petition is dealing with issues from the appointments to the entire process of the TRRC.
“We are of the opinion that the process was a compromise. We have said from the onset that no commission will be able to put the APRC down. Notwithstanding, we are not opposed to the TRRC to investigate the alleged crimes of our government. What we wanted and cried for is that it should be done honestly, transparently and for the greater interest of the Gambian people,” he said.
Reacting to the former ruling party’s claims, the Victims Centre chairperson, Sheriff Kijera, said the APRC’s protest is merely an attempt to ridicule “a national effort to heal wounds of Jammeh and APRC’s 22-year misrule”.
“I think it is quite disappointing to see such a senseless act being portrayed by the APRC to ridicule the whole transitional justice project. APRC will do anything to be in the public spotlight. This is a ploy to mislead their supporters just to stay relevant and to give false narrative to Yahya Jammeh sympathisers that the APRC leadership is doing something regarding Jammeh’s fate,” Kijera said.
Kijera said the APRC leadership is acting smart but they “care less about Jammeh’s welfare”.
“It is rather unfortunate that unpatriotic people who claim to be mature are acting irresponsibly in such sensitive matters of national interest. I think it is time to ban the APRC once and for all. This party doesn’t deserve the right to exist as a political party in this country. It is a terror organisation,” he said.
Kijera said Gambians should be wary of the dangers APRC and NPP alliance will pose to the country’s peace and stability.
“President Barrow should be very aware of the dangers associated with working with APRC and the possible return of Jammeh in this country. It will be a big blow to the entire transition process. I advise him not to sacrifice the interest of this country for his political gains,” Kijera warned.
Meanwhile, activist Madi Jobarteh has described APRC’s action as a false attempt to mislead the country. Commenting on his Facebook page, Madi said just because the “noose is now tightening around the neck of perpetrators who are members and supporters of APRC and Yahya Jammeh, Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his APRC now intend to derail this country as they had done for 22 years.
“The testimonies of victims and perpetrators are a clear indictment and condemnation of Yahya Jammeh and his AFPRC and APRC regimes. TRRC Commissioners, lawyers, investigators and administrators did not commit the heinous crimes caused by AFPRC/APRC perpetrators. These crimes and their victims are largely public knowledge over the years well before the idea of a truth commission was born. Therefore, much as the Government has protected the right of APRC to scramble, the reasonable thing for the Government to do next is to make a public statement to inform the general public that there is a legal and legitimate transitional justice process launched by the Government itself. It is important that the Government re-emphasize that TRRC is not a witch-hunt or a circus. Rather, TRRC is a legal entity tasked with a noble mandate to unearth the truth about the AFPRC/APRC misrule which was characterised by the personalisation of the State and public wealth by Yahya Jammeh alone, gross human rights violations on his behalf, disregard of the rule of law and blatant abuse of office with impunity for his singular selfish interest. This is why TRRC is here.
Failure to do so means the Gambia Government is complicit in the blatant distortion perpetrated by APRC,” Madi Jobarteh said.