Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has replaced his long-serving Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, a statement from the President’s Office announced late Saturday.
The State House made no mention of reasons for Mr Sonko’s removal from his Cabinet appointment just less than three months before the Presidential elections in December, in which incumbent President Yahya Jammeh is seeking for a fifth term.
One of Mr Jammeh’s longest serving homeland security ministers, Sonko has also been removed and re-appointed on several occasions, last of which was his re-appointment as Interior Minister on May 7, 2012 until his recent sacking.
Sonko, a former officer of The Gambia Armed Forces was the West African nation’s Inspector General of Police before taking up a cabinet job.
The President’s Office named one Momodou Alieu Bah known as MA Bah, an active member of The Gambia Armed Forces and one time Director of Finance at GAF as the successor.
On national television, President Jammeh once threatened to send Sonko to Mile II, a dilapidated prisons in the outskirts of the capital, Banjul if any person prays Eid festivals other than the day he (Jammeh) sanctions.
Sonko is accused by rights campaigners of taking part in the coordination of the “unconstitutional” execution of nine death row inmates in 2012 that caused an international outcry.
The former top law enforcement chief is said to have led and participated in the abduction, killing, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention and attempted assassination of rights lawyers, journalists and political opponents including the killing of at least 40 Ghanaian migrants and a dozen student demonstrators.
The Gambia has for the past one year been politically tense with the arrest, torture, killings, imprisonment and disappearance of many people including opposition politicians. The security forces under the watchful eye of the Interior Ministry have been very brutal against the people to please President Jammeh.