Gambia’s first lady backs husband, takes a swipe at critics

Gambia’s first lady backs husband, takes a swipe at critics

Gambia’s First Lady Zineb Jammeh says it is very important that the first family stand for its rights and would not allow anyone to tell them what to do or what is good for them.

It is Mrs. Jammeh’s first comment since her husband lost last month’s election to businessman Adama Barrow. President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down and says it is his right to have fresh elections held, accusing the electoral commission of rigging the polls.

Now the first lady is backing her husband’s refusal to step down, but activists say rather than trying to polish Jammeh’s image, she should tell her husband to step down and respect the will of Gambians.

“I believe also as a loyal citizen of this country, as a First Lady, as a mother, as a sister and as a daughter; it is very important that we stand for our rights,” she said.

First Lady Jammeh took a swipe at critics of the first family, who often accuse them of looting national resources. Mrs. Jammeh said the good work of her husband should be acknowledged and not just the negative.

“It is never perfect, but it is very important to acknowledge the positive. It is important to say what is negative but never forget to acknowledge what is positive as well,” she said.

The first lady has been in Washington, DC living in the US$3.5 million home after last month’s election. A former bodyguard of hers said she imports her food items from the U.S., travels on chartered flighGambia’s First Lady Zineb Jammeh says it is very important that the first family stand for its rights and would not allow anyone to tell them what to do or what is good for them.

It is Mrs. Jammeh’s first comment since her husband lost last month’s election to businessman Adama Barrow.

President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down and says it is his right to have fresh elections held, accusing the electoral commission of rigging the polls.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh leaves a polling station with his wife Zineb during the presidential election in Banjul, Gambia, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

“I believe also as loyal citizen of this country, as a First Lady, as a mother, as a sister and as a daughter; it is very important that we stand for our rights,” she said.

Pa Samba Jow, a spokesperson a union of Gambian activists in the United States said it is quite laughable that all of a sudden Jammeh and his family have transformed themselves into democrats.

Jammeh’s regime has been documented as one of Africa’s major rights abuser notorious for torturing, maiming, killing and arbitrarily arresting and detaining opponents, journalists, and activists. In the run-up to the election, two activists, Ebrima Nkrumah and Solo Sandeng died in custody. Human Rights groups said Kurumah was denied medical care and Sandeng was tortured to death.

“Whiles Gambians are being violated, she was busy roaming around the world from one posh mall to the other squandering our meager resources. Jammeh’s legacy is nothing to be proud of because it is one littered with the dead bodies of innocent Gambians,” said Mr. Jow.

First Lady Jammeh took a swipe at critics of the first family like Mr. Jow, who often accuse them of looting national resources. Mrs. Jammeh said the good work of her husband should be acknowledged and not just the negative.

“It is never perfect, but it is very important to acknowledge the positive. It is important to say what is negative but never forget to acknowledge what is positive as well,” she said.

The first lady has been in Washington, DC living in the US$3.5 million home after last month’s election.

A former bodyguard of hers said she imports her food items from the U.S., travels on chartered flights and spend millions on shopping sprees in malls.

Critics have said Mrs. Jammeh is one of the influencers behind her husband’s refusal to hand over power. Jammeh initially accepted defeat and called for a peaceful transition before taken a sudden detour rejecting the results.

The only thing Zineb and her despotic husband are defending is their insatiable greed and lust for power, Jow insists.

“Zineb has never had any respect for The Gambia and its people; she found an opportunity to live a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of the poor Gambians, hence the dishonorable Gold-digger tag,” he said.

Days before Jammeh’s detour from conceding defeat, a senior member of the winning opposition coalition and former UN official Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow said the first family will be investigated, stolen wealth recovered and prosecuted. Jammeh’s former foreign minister Sidi Sanneh supports Mrs. Tambajang Jallow’s stands and insist on the same.

Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh is estimated to be worth at least US$1.2 billion, more than the country’s GDP. He came to power as a poor young lieutenant in a coup in 1994 and has been implicated in illicit diamond, arms and drug trades.

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