By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has told visiting members of former president Yahya Jammeh’s family that as an individual he has nothing personal against him and had in fact tried to reconcile with him without success.
Jammeh’s family, led by former parliamentarian of Foni Jarrol, Alhagie Jammeh, on Sunday met President Barrow at State House to show appreciation for the visit he accorded them in 2021.
The president said government operates on principles and even though he cannot change government decisions, he still cherishes the desire to accord mutual respect between him and Jammeh. “So, I think we should end our differences because I see Jammeh’s family as my family,” he added.
Barrow said Jammeh has brought a lot of development to The Gambia during his presidency, and if anything bad happens in the country, all that he built will be destroyed.
President Barrow went on to disclose how he intervened to stop the eviction of Jammeh’s family from his home in Kanilai, despite that being part of the properties seized by the Janneh Commission.
“They wanted to evict his family from the compound but I said no, it would not happen under my presidency. If I hadn’t intervened, his family would have been evicted a long time ago. So, I am trying my level best to ensure friendship and good family relationships continue between myself and Jammeh. I cannot stop government decisions, but the relationship between us and our respect for the former president should be something that we all embrace,” he said. Barrow said a similar thing happened in the case of Saul Badjie’s house where his mother resides.
Barrow told the Jammeh family that no situation is permanent and he is always aware that one day he will become a former president and therefore he would like the same respect he accorded to Jawara and Jammeh be given to him.
He told the family that their visit is good for the country’s national security.
“When I went to Kanilai, it was not in my plans to go visit Jammeh’s family, but I said to myself that it would not be nice to come all the way to Kanilai and not visit Jammeh’s family. There was a lot of noise about my visit there with some saying I should not have gone there, but I have no fight with Jammeh,” he said.
Barrow reiterated that the presidency is no one’s monopoly and when destiny decides any day, it will come to an end. He added that he is not responsible for the end of Jammeh’s presidency.
“It is God who ended it as everyone knows Jammeh was one of the most powerful presidents in West Africa. Even today, his power can still be seen. There are some of his cars here that we are afraid of using,” the president teased.
He said to understand Jammeh’s situation is to realise that he was not prepared that somebody would be able to remove him, especially a businessman like him. “He was caught by surprise,” Barrow said.
“When his mother died, I was in Togo with the Equatorial Guinea President. Jammeh called him about the situation and appealed for him to help arrange for the dead body to be repatriated to The Gambia for burial because they could not even have someone to wash the body. The Equatorial Guinea President then approached Presidents Nana Akufo Addo and Alasana Ouattara of Ghana and Ivory Coast to convince them to talk to me about allowing her dead body to be buried in The Gambia, but before they could meet me, they thought of approaching President Macky Sall to talk to me, and when he informed me, I accepted right away. We did all we could to support that process. Like I said, Jammeh never thought of living in exile with his mother and family. I was the only one who could solve his problem that day, and I decided to solve it for him. If that were someone else, he would have refused,” Barrow said. He concluded by assuring the Jammeh family that he would always be open to foster good relationship with Jammeh and the family at large.