Gambian Foreign Minister and Secretary General of the ruling United democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe led a procession in remembrance of late Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
April 14 marks a year since Sandeng (the then National Organizer of the UDP) was arrested at Westfield Square and reportedly tortured to death by operatives loyal to former President Yahya Jammeh.
“They took the challenge to set the tone for a meaningful change in the Gambia….Solo made immeasurable sacrifices to ensure democracy reigns and that is why we will never relent in ensuring that the perpetrators of this heinous crime [Sandeng’s killing] are brought to justice wherever they may be, no matter how long it takes,” Darboe said.
Sandeng’s death forced Darboe to take to the streets leading to his arrest, prosecution and jailing. He has vowed to put an end to impunity and human rights abuses.
“The era of condoned impunity is gone and gone forever in The Gambia. And let no one assume that they can get away with the false imprisonment culture, murder, extra-judicial killings, and illegal detentions in The Gambia,” said Darboe, who was in tears.
Darboe was joined by hundreds of Gambians wearing T-shirts bearing the photo of the slain politician. The procession dubbed ‘The Solo Sandeng Freedom Walk’ was organized under the auspices of the Solo Sandeng Foundation and is “in commemoration of the April 14th protest.”
He was at the time of his arrest leading a peaceful march demanding electoral reforms ahead of December 2016 presidential elections. Sandeng died in detention shortly after his arrest.
Jammeh lost the polls to the opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow – he refused to accept the results but fled into exile after regional forces threatened to oust him. He is currently living in Equatorial Guinea.
The new government has subsequently charged ex-Gambian Spy Chief, Yankuba Badjie, with the death of Sandeng. According to court documents, Badjie and 8 others were facing two counts of conspiracy to commit felony and murder.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Sourcing from The Torch; Additional Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Editing by Sam Phatey)