Omar Malleh Jabang was a mobilizer for The Gambia’s ruling APRC party in coastal Kartong, Kombo South. His village borders Senegal’s Casamance region in the south. Until last year, he was a supporter of the country’s longtime ruler President Yahya Jammeh, but then the tides turn and he shifted with it.
Jabang abandoned the APRC and mobilized support for the country’s first female presidential candidate Dr. Isatou Touray in his region. He mobilization effort resulted to the cross-carpeting of many other APRC supporters. Touray has now endorsed Adama Barrow in coalition and does the coalition have the support of those like Jabang.
Jabang was seen at the Buffer Zone, a perimeter where many political rallies take place. He was with other opposition supporters who were pumped up about the formalization of Barrow’s campaign.
He was arrested the next day and his whereabouts remains a mystery.
Opposition leaders are being urged to take swift action to address the increasing number of arrests this week. Pro-democracy activist say it is the beginning of voter intimidation in The Gambia ahead of next month’s presidential polls.
Jabang was instrumental in organizing a successful rally for Touray in his native Kartong village and a rally by APRC some days later saw a low turnout.
Kartong was hit by protests and mass arrests after youths protested against environmental degradation caused by sand mining in their community last year. The activity they said brought them no development and has led to the deaths of underage workers on the sites. More than 30 of its inhabitants were prosecuted but later given a presidential pardon.
President Yahya Jammeh is seeking a fifth term to extend his 22-year rule but faced with his toughest challenge as his popularity takes a downward spiral. He faced criticism for jailing more than two dozen opposition supporters including human rights lawyer Ousainou Darboe. Resentment towards Jammeh grew after security forces used excessive force towards peaceful protesters in April and May, leading to the death of two people.