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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Gambian CSOs call for release of all detainees, amnesty for all in Senegal

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The coalition of Gambian civil society organisations (CSOs) has called on the government of President Macky Sall to release all detained opposition figures, activists, journalists and protesters and grant amnesty to all in Senegal.

In a statement issued yesterday, the CSOs said they have been monitoring the political events in Senegal especially in the wake of protests by opposition and civil society actors over the trial and sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko on 1 June.

The statement signed by the chairperson of The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Tango), Mrs Yadicon Njie-Eribo, read: “Senegal and The Gambia share the same historical and socio-cultural umbilical cord, and by geography are destined to live side by side for which reasons we all share the same responsibility to care for each another. The destiny of The Gambia and Senegal are therefore intertwined and cannot be separated hence the people of these two sister republics cannot and must not ignore the prevailing conditions in either society, whether good or bad…

“…Senegal has been a beacon of hope for not only Africa because of its strong democratic credentials over the past two decades but also because Senegal was hugely instrumental in the removal of dictatorship and restoration of democracy in The Gambia in 2017. During our period of dictatorship lasting more than two decades, both the government and people of Senegal gave invaluable support to Gambian citizens as Senegal was the first port of call for most Gambians fleeing the reign of terror. In Senegal, we found home, protection, and comfort.

“We note with concern that of recent Senegal, dubbed “Le Pays de Dialogue” has seen its democratic space shrinking fast.”

The CSOs called on both sides in Senegal to sit down and hold dialogue; re-open all media outlets and ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are protected; refrain from doing anything, directly or indirectly that put undue pressure on the justice delivery institutions; and call on Mr Sonko and other opposition political figures, to urgently restrain their supporters and cease protests as a means to give peace a chance and encourage President Macky Sall and his government to seize advantage of this rapprochement to embark on de-escalation, peace-building and strengthening of democracy.

The CSOs also urged Ecowas and the AU to dispatch a joint high-level mission led by chairpersons President Azali Assoumani of Comoros and President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau “to visit Dakar to have urgent dialogue with President Macky Sall and the opposition leaders to remind them of their duty to uphold the law, defend and abide by democratic norms and standards and protect human rights as a means to ensure the peace and stability of Senegal, West Africa and the African continent as a whole”.

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