Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has ordered security forces to stop arresting political opponents and for the justice department not to prosecute them.
Jammeh’s executive order for no political arrests and prosecutions in pre- and post-electoral Gambia came after the Supreme Court was unable to hear his election petition on Tuesday and urged by the Chief Justice to seek alternative dispute resolution.
“I hereby issue an executive order to that effect that nobody be arrested or prosecuted due to acts or omissions in the pre- and post-electoral period with effective from November 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017,” Jammeh said.
The government of President Yahya Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, frequently committed serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition to the government, says Human Rights Watch.
The repression and abuses created a climate of fear within Gambia, generating increased attention from the international community.
As of the new year, four radio stations were closed, pro-democracy campaigners arrested, a handful of citizens forced into exile including the chair of the electoral commission. Some political prisoners still remain in jail and others who have been held without charges.
“I ask for all Gambians to forgive each other, especially the political class to ensure peace and stability in the country,” said Mr. Jammeh.
Jammeh has also given instructions for his Attorney General and Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh to draft an amnesty bill.
President Yahya Jammeh’s fate is now in limbo as his options to hold on to power shrinks. African judges due to help the Gambia’s Supreme Court to hear a petition by Jammeh challenging his defeat were a no show.