Mr Jatta, who is the Majority Leader of the National Assembly and member for Serekunda East, added that contrary to popular opinion, The Gambia under Jawara was not democratic.
He told The Standard: “During the Jawara regime, elections were held under the auspices of the permanent secretary, Ministry of Local Government. We are talking about civil servants as returning officers. And, between me and God, voter’s cards were prepared in my presence and one person thumb-printed all of them. The voter’s cards were later put in bags. This is more than electoral fraud. These frauds happened in presidential elections against Sheriff Dibba. Omar Jallow was part of that fraud and he was a cabinet minister that is why some of them do not have the moral ground to talk about democracy and rule of law.”
Mr Jatta recounted his personal experiences with the ‘heavy-handedness’ of the former regime, which he said, was a reflection of the state of affairs at the time.
“I was taken to court by the PPP government because I registered in Albreda, my home village, while I was residing in Tallinding,” he explained. “My wife was never registered, but they dragged us to court, alleging that we had done double registration. I used to support the opposition at the time. In the court, I told them that Landing Jallow Sonko, was living here in Kombo while going to register in Nuimi with his family. The police told us was that the order came from the top. Fafa Mbaye was my lawyer. He called to tell me that our court hearing, which was first slated for one Friday, was moved to Monday and that he suspected foul play. He told me that they wanted to refuse us bail and take us to Mile 2. I told him, ‘don’t worry, my conscience is clear so let them use power.’ And it happened as the lawyer predicted. When we arrived at the court, we were told that the bail was refused and we were taken to remand. That was the PPP in action!”
He continued: “That is why I said that people like Bakary Bunja Darboe, Omar Jallow and their PPP colleagues in the then executive do not have any moral authority to haul insults at us or talk about democracy and good governance. During elections in those days, they gave boys canes to torture political opponents. Landing Jallow Sonko and his people did this in trucks and they were beating people there. And Jawara is culpable by all standards because he was the president. These people ruled The Gambia for thirty years and had not built any secondary school or even television.”
According to Mr Jatta, unlike his APRC government, the former government is hailed as democratic because the leadership was dancing to the tune of Western powers.
He explained: “The fact is that some of us who have witnessed the colonial days, first and the second republic know you cannot compare them in terms of respect for rule of law and genuine democracy. The world order now is diplomacy and if you are in the good books of the Western powers because you tell them what they want to hear, you may do whatever you want to do in your country and it is not their business. We have seen them hailing dictators here as democrats. If you are the person who says no to their dictates, you are a dictator with whatever you do. Jawara was a darling of the Western powers. That is why, among many other things, he was hailed a democrat. Unless I am told who a democrat is because from my own point of view, a democrat should be a leader who is guided by the wishes of his people and one who delivers his promises.”]]>