By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has said the decision to give former president Yahya Jammeh amnesty should come from Gambians, adding that he alone cannot decide it.
The president’s National People’s Party is reportedly discussing with the former ruling APRC for a possible coalition and one of the conditions for that to happen will include the return of Jammeh and all seized APRC assets.
However, speaking in a Star FM exclusive recently, President Barrow said: “Jammeh’s amnesty is not a matter for Adama Barrow to decide. It is about The Gambia. It will not be my decision but the decision of the Gambian people.
“We have the executive and the National Assembly. These bodies should be part of the process, so even if the paper comes to sign, it will not be a matter of President Barrow signing it. The cabinet will sit over it and our advisers will advise us. I believe in due process and rule of law,” he said.
The Gambian leader said people should not just see Yahya Jammeh’s issue as personal but a Gambian issue.
“This is why we established the TRRC to know the truth and after knowing the truth there is something else that should follow. There are so many people involved. How do you handle that? What will the TRRC recommendations say? So these are all issues,” Barrow said.
Commenting on criticism directed to his advisers, President Barrow said an adviser doesn’t necessarily have to be a PhD holder.
“Sometimes they say professors and PhD holders should be your advisers. That’s how they think about it. But there are PhD holders whom you know are not loyal. Would such a person advise you on anything good? He would only throw you in a ditch,” he added.
He said an adviser “must be somebody who is loyal”.
“Someone who would tell you the truth. And someone who is ready to work with you for the sake of your agenda, and is ready to take the bullet for you. Those are the kind of people you should make your advisers,” he noted.
Speaking on corruption, the Gambian leader said: “It is extremely difficult to eradicate corruption. You cannot just come and stand accusing people like that without evidence because it is difficult to establish corruption.
“We had a case here but the person who gave out the information was not available and you cannot go to court without him because he is your principal witness. They discuss via telephone and even to establish the voice of the person speaking on the phone is not easy – you need a machine to do that because if you go to the courts without that it will be difficult to defend your case.”
The president said if a person alleges corruption they should be able to come forward with concrete documentary evidence to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
The president argued that corruption is everywhere in the world and nobody can stop it. “What you can do is to reduce it and I think it has reduced because if it has not reduced, we would not have been able to put together all the money we put together. Now even if the president’s office wants funds, we have to struggle to have it.”
He said as part of efforts to fight corruption the government is reviewing the country’s salary structure with a view to increasing salaries significantly in the 2021 budget.
“We now use the e-system to pay people as opposed to before when people used to be walking around with bags of money. This is saving the country a lot of money,” he added.
The president challenged “whosoever in the opposition or in government knows about corruption happening anywhere in government to come forward with concrete evidence”.
“If you bring me evidence it is easy for me to make the necessary decision. They call me Mr Evidence. If you bring me evidence, I will make a decision. My nephew was part of the Nawec incident but I told them it is none of my business. They took him to court but he won the case and he was reinstated,” he said.