By Omar Bah
Fatou Conta, a political activist and initiator of the ‘Operation 3 Years Jotna’, a group calling on President Barrow to step down after three years, has told The Standard that the group was not behind the Friday placard-waving protest involving 15 people.
“We have no idea about Friday’s protest. We have made it very clear that our members should not interfere with the coalition stakeholders’ meeting. I want to call on all our members to exercise restraint and remain calm until December,” she told The Standard yesterday.
On Friday, the protesters gathered around the Kairaba Hotel entrance where some Coalition 2016 members were meeting to demonstrate against plans to extend President Barrow’s transitional term as indicated in the MoU to five years.
They were arrested and taken to Kairaba Police Station where they were charged and later granted bail and are due to appear in court.
The Gambia’s Public Order Act requires people to apply for a permit from the police before engaging in public protests. Police spokesperson said the protesters did not apply for a permit.
‘UDP not a protest movement’
Meanwhile, the United Democratic Party has said the party was not behind the protest march.
In a statement issued shortly after the protesters were arrested by the police, the party dispelled what it calls “rumours and allegations” that were making the rounds that the UDP was organising a protest march against President Barrow’s administration.
“The secretary general and party leader of the United Democratic Party hereby informs the general public that the UDP is not organising any political event or gathering in any part of The Gambia contrary to the rumours and allegations that the United Democratic Party is organising or participating in the organising a protest and or manifestations in any part of the Gambia. The UDP is a responsible and mature political party and not a protest movement. Whenever political events are organised the party ensures that all the necessary permits are obtained in good time,” the release reads.