By Omar Bah
APRC leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta has said former president Yahya Jammeh cannot return to the country without the approval of the government.
Addressing delegates at the eighth APRC national congress in Janjangbureh over the weekend, Mr Jatta who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly, said the party’s militants should understand that Jammeh cannot return to the country without the approval of President Barrow and the government.
“If anyone thinks that Jammeh can return to this country without President Barrow or his government’s approval, you are fooling yourself. That is not possible. Also, we should know that the majority of the West African governments and the West don’t like him. So, how will he come?” he said.
Jatta claimed that some people latching on to Jammeh’s properties do not want him to return to the country.
“My APRC family, especially those who were in the party from the beginning, please join us and support President Barrow. I can tell you he is a very good leader and he has all the qualities of a president. It is only the likes of him who could rule this country at this moment,” FTJ said.
He reminded the delegates that the party is now part of the government as a result of the partnership they reached with the NPP which was sanctioned by the delegates and even former president Yahya Jammeh himself during the last congress.
“It was two years ago that you people concluded that the executive should contact and share ideas with political parties in the supreme interest of the APRC,” he added.
He said during the negotiations with the NPP, the national executive did not do anything without notifying the former president.
“We believe that the unification of the country takes precedence over every other thing and the moment the NPP agreed for us to go into an alliance, we went around the country seeking the approval of the supporters and the majority of them supported the idea. Unfortunately, few people in the West Coast Region, specifically in Foni, were reluctant. I want to assure you that myself and my executive loved Jammeh and the APRC more than anything,” he said.
Jatta told the delegates that just as the success of the current government is APRC’s success, its failure will be APRC’s failure.
“We want to be an opposition party with a difference that would criticise the government when necessary and praise it when it is doing good. That is the spirit of the APRC under my leadership. So, it is in our collective good to put The Gambia first by supporting the ruling party to succeed because when it succeeds the country succeeds,” he added.
He said until God decides otherwise, President Barrow will remain as The Gambia’s president and there is nothing APRC or anybody can do about that.
“We want to discourage all forms of tribalism or regionalism in the party. For us, that should not be encouraged in this country,” he said.
He commended all party supporters who stood their ground and rallied behind his executive during the most difficult times for the party.
“When we were taking over the party in 2017, there were people shouting today when they contacted to take executive positions they refused because they were scared. But myself and my executive took the risk, so there is no dishonest person in my camp – they are all genuine people who love the party,” Jatta said.
Jatta said the ‘No Alliance’ breakaway faction represents less than 10 percent of the APRC and that they are bent on disuniting the party.
He informed the delegates that the local government elections will serve as a litmus test for the APRC but he was quick to say the party will not put up candidates in areas where the NPP and its alliance parties will contest.