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Thursday, August 6, 2020

‘I did not regret supporting Jammeh’

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By Omar Wally

Sheriff Samsudeen Sarr, a retired army captain and former deputy Gambian ambassador to the United Nations, has said he did not regret supporting former President Jammeh.
Sarr, author of Coup d’état in Gambia, the first book to catalogue Jammeh’s reign of terror, was a former fierce critic of Jammeh but made a U-turn while in exile in the US to become the international face for Jammeh.

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Speaking in an interview with The Standard, Sarr said part of the reasons why he reconciled with Jammeh was that with all the years he tried going against him, he did not make impact in his fight. “The whole world loves Jammeh, even my family love him, they go to his ceremony, praise him and when I called Gambia, nobody will like to talk to me; it came to a point I forgot about the fight,” he said.
He added that he wanted to reconcile with Jammeh so he could come back home because he did not want to be in exile for the rest of his life.

“My mother, brother and my grand-mother who raised me died, I couldn’t come for their funeral,” he said.
Sarr added that he didn’t see any opposition to Jammeh that signaled his departure.
Captain Sarr however denied allegations that he said Jammeh should shoot protesters at the height of political tension in April 2016.

“What I said was demonstrations can lead to crisis and people can get killed and anybody who wants to agitate demonstration while I’m in charged, I will open fire on that person.
“I’m not that crazy, ask those who were in the army, they will tell you that if I did not help a solider, I will not hurt a solider. I have never brutalised or killed anyone. I tried to stop people killing each other; I’m not an evil person as they are portraying me to be,” he said.

Sarr who also authored 1980s popular pacesetter series ‘Meet Me In Conakry’ said the very friends who encouraged him to be very harsh on Jammeh, occasionally left him to come to the Gambia to see their parents.

“Why would I be the hero for the rest of the world when people whom I thought could have done the same thing I’m doing were not doing anything?”

 

Background
Sarr was among the senior officers who unsuccessfully tried to foil the 1994 coup. He was arrested, jailed, released and reinstated in to the army but after serving for a while he was retired from the army and later went in to exile to United States.

He spent eighteen years in exile and became a strong critic of Jammeh which culminated into the writing of what was, and still considered to be the most authentic account of the Jammeh misrule. In 1988 while serving the Confederal army Sarr mistakenly shot himself with a rifle in the leg and was flown to Dakar to be patched up. Following the ousting of Jammeh, Sarr quietly returned home and is currently running a mechanic garage in Kotu.
Read the full interview on Bantaba Friday.

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