By Tabora Bojang
Veteran politician and a former Niamina Dankunku parliamentarian Lamin Waa Juwara, who was both a fervent critic and later a minister of the APRC regime yesterday claimed before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that his controversial cross carpeting to the APRC after 13 months in detention was a tactical switch in defense of his life.
Juwara, who founded the defunct National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) after splitting with UDP in 2001, told the commission that after his long incarceration incommunicado for 13 months without trial, being one of his several detentions, he said he was forced to join the Jammeh bandwagon or risk losing his life.
“Jammeh is not somebody that anybody can be proud of but at the time, it was either a question of joining or dying that I have to take one-step. Jammeh was so angry with me in the past over what I stand for,” he said.
He added Jammeh was mistaking, thinking that he (Waa) had accepted him.
“I have never accepted him being somebody who overthrew democracy and established a totalitarian regime. It was a question of survival tactics because I have the option to leave the country or risk dying and I never have an intention to leave the country for whatever reasons.”
Waa, a well-respected politician is regarded for his political bravery, giving him the title Mbarodi meaning a lion in Fula.
He was appointed lands and local government minister in 2012 until his dismissal and subsequent arrest and incarceration for six months.
“I joined him and served his government and by serving him, I mean serving the Gambian people. What I did was very clear; we wanted a better Gambia and not those that are going to destroy the country.”
Waa Juwara further said even when he was made minister, he was still standing by his principles and this was one of the reasons for his short stint in cabinet because he could not be sitting in the cabinet with Jammeh dictating everything.
He said Gambians would never forgive them with some of the positions that they have taken during the Jammeh rule.
“We all in one way are responsible for what the Gambia went through. We have suffered and learnt our lessons seeing what was inflicted on our own people including many good people like Imams,” Juwara admitted.
He said he has been part of everything that occurred since he joined the former government and supported its policies at the time.
He urged Gambians to forget the past and forge ahead for reconciliation and national development.
“My heart is so filled and I felt so bad that my country has been reduced to such level.”