By Alagie Manneh
A stalwart of the former ruling party has thumbed down the decision last week by the commission of inquiry to summon former president Jammeh to testify.
Speaking to The Standard, Jammeh’s information minister of nine days, Seedy Njie, said such a move will put a spanner in the efforts to promote national unity and will “further divide” the country.
Njie said the decision also violates the Ecowas deal, which purportedly guarantees the former leader from being subjected to ‘undue harassment and intimidation and all other pressures and sanctions’.
Reacting, Njie said: “The [move by the] commission of inquiry is against this agreement. I am stunned and disappointed. That action [by the commission] will further divide the country and it is not in the spirit of reconciliation and national unity.
“It is also against the spirit and letter of the agreement between the African Union, Ecowas, the United Nations and the government of former President Yahya Jammeh, for him to proceed on self-exile and also to return to The Gambia anytime he wishes.”
He said that agreement assured among many other things, “that the dignity, respect and rights of the former president as a citizen be respected, as provided for and guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution and other laws of the country.”
Therefore, Mr Njie, who said the APRC is “committed to The Gambia’s peace,” called on the AU, Ecowas, the UN and the Office of the President, to recognise and respect the articles of the purported agreement.
“We want the commission of inquiry to take into account this agreement. Jammeh cannot rule for 22 years and you claim that he cannot own a bicycle, he cannot own a car, cannot own houses and cannot own nothing. And then there are talks about this money being withdrawn [here], withdrawn [there], but nobody is taking about the mammoth development Jammeh registered in billions.”
Mr Njie said he was reminding President Barrow that President Jammeh magnanimously granted “unconditional amnesty” to President Jawara and introduced an act of parliament to protect former presidents.
“He [Barrow] should entrench this law so that nobody can prosecute a former president, otherwise The Gambia will be the life of a jungle [sic].”
The APRC spokesman advised the government to encourage reconciliation and national unity, and put The Gambia first before “with-hunt”.
“Worse, heinous crimes happened in other countries which never happened in The Gambia. There was no war. Jammeh left based on an agreement,” he said.
“At a time when other African countries are welcoming their own widely-perceived former dictators, The Gambia is busy embracing a witch-hunt. You cannot compare the atrocities and the number of people who died in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s rule to Jammeh’s rule. Jammeh is one of the best the world could have,” he claimed.
Mr Njie also condemned the use of government resources and the alleged reported millions spent on the Coalition’s anniversary celebrations, and said President Barrow’s face imprinted on wax ashobis and T-shirts is reminiscent of President Jammeh’s style.
“Well, when you are at the receiving end, you will have a taste of it. We have even seen Lawyer Darboe and Barrow throwing money to… you know,” Njie chided.