By Lamin Cham
The rival faction of former president Yahya Jammeh’s APRC, opposed to the party’s backing of President Barrow, has accused the police of unjustifiably denying them permit to hold rallies, but added also that the permit denial has made them even stronger.
The group, which is now called Operation No to Coalition, said the Gambia police twice denied them permit to hold meetings in Georgetown and more recently, in the West Coast Region.
Speaking in an interview with The Standard, Pa Modou Mbowe, a prominent member of the group, said they are very disappointed that the police, which should be an independent impartial national institution, is now being influenced by the APRC executive committee who are afraid of the huge opposition to their ‘treacherous’ selling of the party to Barrow.
“The APRC executive knows very well that the Operation No to Coalition is more powerful, popular and bigger than them many times. So, they don’t want us to have a permit to gather our people against the coalition. They are the ones now influencing the Barrow government not to issue permit to us,” Mr Mbowe told The Standard.
Asked why were they denied permit, Mbowe said the police said they cannot grant permit for security reasons. ”We found that to be flimsy and suspicious and grossly unfair to us as citizens of the Gambia. Our freedom of assembly is being violated. But we are not going to be intimidated. Currently, we are on our campaign which is growing big without using loud speakers. Only yesterday, we were in Sifoe and the campaign goes on,” Mr Mbowe said.
Commenting on the recent claims by General Lang Tombong Tamba that the easiest way to bring Jammeh back is to reelect Barrow, Mr Mbowe said that is the most misleading statement from someone who is fastly losing his respect and credibility. “As a former senior army official, Lang Tombong should be the one to spearhead the demilitarization of Foni and Kanilai in particular. For him to urge people to jump into bed with the person who brought about that militarization in the first place is a great disappointment,” Mbowe said.
Asked what will happen to the group now that nominations are at the corner, Mr Mbowe said: “We have a well worked out plan that will be known at the right time”.