President Yahya Jammeh has instructed his Attorney General and Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh to draft an amnesty bill in an attempt to peacefully resolve the political crisis in the West African nation of The Gambia.
The so-called draft amnesty bill will seek among others amicably solving the political crisis, non-prosecution of regime members, no arrest of opposition supporters, said a justice department official.
The details, however, still remain unclear, but opposition activists say it is meant to protect Jammeh and his henchmen for crimes against the state and human rights abuses.
The longtime authoritarian ruler said the amnesty will guarantee that there is no witch hunting leading to mass arrest and prosecutions, and to “restore confidence and security within constitutional mandate.”
Although Mr. Jammeh did not propose a timeline, it is hoped that the bill will be made available before his term expires next week.
It is the first time President Yahya Jammeh is speaking of amnesty. There were calls for his non-prosecution when he initially accepted defeat.
Coalition spokesperson Halifa Sallah said President Yahya Jammeh will not be prosecuted, will be treated as a statesman in a way befitting a former leader and will be consulted by President-elect Adama Barrow on key state matters.
This came after the chair of Mr. Barrow’s transition team, Fatoumata Tambajang, said Jammeh may be prosecuted within three months to a year after leaving power.
Jammeh took a political u-turn few days after Ms. Tambajang’s statement sparking the political crisis. He also blamed the electoral commission of “incompetence” and refused to step down saying there were “abnormalities with the polls.”
Jammeh has since challenged the outcome of the elections in a petition to the Supreme Court.
Gambia’s Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenele said on Tuesday that a decision on President Jammeh’s challenge to the poll results will not be heard until Monday next week, just days before President-elect Adama Barrow’s expected inauguration.
(Reporting and Writing by Sainey MK Marenah; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)