By Omar Bah
The chairman of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violation has said Essa Faal’s decision to run for president must not be used as an excuse to disregard the brilliant work of the TRRC.
Speaking in a Standard exclusive yesterday, Sheriff Kijera said: “We respect Essa Faal’s decision. It is his constitutional and human rights because he is a citizen and has the right to contest any position in government. The victim community has no issues with Essa Faal running for president as he issued strong warning to the general ARPC membership to be mindful of its executive’s motives.”
The former TRRC lead counsel last Friday declared that he will run for president in the December election.
Faal’s decision sparked controversy and condemnation among many Gambians who feel he could wait for a little longer.
Some of the victims were reportedly worried that his decision could distract the government’s position on the commission’s recommendations.
Kijera said an earlier audio he made is currently being circulated as news when it was recorded months ago when the victims heard that Mr Faal was contemplating to run for president while he was still working as lead counsel.
“But now that he has completed his work, we don’t have any problem with him joining the political arena. I am sure a lot of people were disappointed but we have to respect his decision and we wish him well. You see, one thing you cannot take away from him is that he has done a wonderful job with the TRRC and we commend him and all those who took part in the commission. They have really lived up to expectation,” he said.
Mr Kijera said the government has “no excuse whatsoever not to implement the recommendation of the TRRC because Faal’s decision to stand for election has nothing to do with the work of the TRRC”.
“The TRRC has established all the facts relating to the human rights violations that occurred during Yahya Jammeh’s rule. What we expect the government to do is to show the political will and commitment to implement the TRRC recommendations. They must not under any circumstances use Essa Faal’s candidature to jeopardize the good work of the TRRC. We will not sit and watch that happen,” he added.
He said the TRRC is “a brain child of the government of Adama Barrow and it is his legacy and if it fails, then his legacy fails. It is up to him to defend his legacy”.
Commenting on reports that APRC and NPP are attempting to form an alliance, Kijera contended: “We know they have sold their party already. I want to warn the APRC general membership not to be fooled by those greedy APRC executives calling themselves politicians. They are all criminals; they don’t deserve our respect because they have no respect for Gambians and those who perished under the leadership of Yahya Jammeh. Let no one fool them about protecting Jammeh from prosecution because Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices will face justice. It doesn’t matter which government comes to power in December.”
“I know political demagogues like the APRC will claim this as an excuse to try to discredit the work of the TRRC because they have always been in denial. I know they will bank on it. However, they can continue being in denial but as far as the victims are concerned, Essa Faal and his colleagues have done a fantastic job and we are grateful to them. No more amount of excuse or political pettiness or bigotry will prevent the government from implementing the TRRC recommendations,” he added.