Hundreds of Gambians, mostly supporters of the opposition party, APRC on Thursday took to the streets of Sukuta 23 kilometers from the capital city, Banjul to demand for the return of former President, Yahya Jammeh to The Gambia.
The autocratic leader Jammeh left Gambia in 2016, following threat of military intervention by the forces of the regional bloc ECOWAS in an election dispute.
Jammeh recently claimed that he has signed an agreement with UN, AU, ECOWAS and the current administration of President Barrow before his departure, to later return to The Gambia, a claim denied by both the former spokesperson of the coalition that defeated him and government spokesperson, Dr Ebrima G. Sankareh.
Jammeh first accepted the election results in 2016 before making a shocking u-turn to decline and ‘annul the results’ only to be forced out.
An audio released by the leadership of the APRC (Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction party last week, Ex-President Jammeh vowed to return to The Gambia, claimed that he is only on vacation.
Jammeh still maintains strong support back at home amidst ongoing investigations on alleged human right violations, and financial embezzlement pointed at him.
The protesters could be heard signing well-known slogans of Jammeh’s party.
Many of the protesters are justifying the need for Jammeh to return now, based on what they describe as ‘poor administration’ of the country by the Barrow administration. The poor economy and security situation of the country has been key issues expressed by the protesters.
Meanwhile, many Gambians have taken to social media to criticize the government for granting the protesters (the APRC party) a permit to protest.
- Gambian Opposition Party to protest for the Return of former President Jammeh
- Home-Sick Jammeh says he’s only taking a vacation and will return home anytime he wants
Jammeh never allowed any form of protest during his 22 years of dictatorial rule. In April 2000 Jammeh’s security guards killed14 teenagers at a student protest in Banjul, the capital city. The protest was ignited following two separate incidents – the beating to death of secondary school student Ebrima Barry by firefighters, and the rape of a 13-year-old girl by security personnel – and the lack of investigation of both of those incidents.
On April 14, 2016, Solo Sandeng, a prominent activist with the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), led a protest calling for electoral reform in Serrekunda, a suburb of Banjul. Gambian police arrested Sandeng and more than 20 other demonstrators and bystanders. Many of them were beaten and tortured in NIA custody. Sandeng’s injuries were fatal and Jammeh was unwilling to surrender his body to the family.