Gambian authorities released from prison opposition leader Ousainou Darboe with dozens of opposition protesters who were arrested in April and May, after a shocking loss in the country’s December 1 polls.
Securing the release of opposition detainees has been top on the priority list of The Gambia’s president-elect, whose team had been in contact with the United Nations to ensure their quick release.
Darboe, Femi Peters, Momodou Sanneh and other senior opposition members were escorted out of a prison in the outskirts of the capital to a court building where they were reunited with their families amid cheers and hurrahs from supporters and well-wishers.
The jailed opposition detainees were due to appear in the Appeals Court Monday to have their sentences overturned.
Jammeh, confident of winning, on the week of the elections, said he was not going to pardon the opposition detainees.
“They broke the law and anyone that breaks the law will pay,” Jammeh said. “So I will not pardon any of them. I will leave them there and they will serve their sentence.”
A contracted Nigerian judge Justice Eunice Dada sentenced Darboe with 19 others to three years in prison for taking part in the “unauthorized protest” in which two opposition activists died after their arrest.
Jammeh has branded the opposition that shocked him with an elections loss as “enemies of the state sponsored by the West,” especially the main opposition UDP party, whose Adama Barrow was fielded as a single candidate for the coalition of seven opposition groups.
“This so-called opposition who want to be president will not be even MPs. I swear to God and even if people want, they can vote for them, but they will never be president because no, elections, military or foreign power can take me out of office unless Allah said so,” the overly confident Jammeh said in mid-November.
President Yahya Jammeh is scheduled to meet with President-elect Barrow this week at the State House in Banjul.
Jammeh who has conceded defeat since his loss in the polls said he will work with the new government and hand over power to President-elect Adama Barrow in January.