Gambia’s former ruling party that is struggling to rebrand its battered image says it has “no problem” with its members, who have allegedly committed crimes against the state being arrested but will not allow persecution or banning of the party.
Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the new leader of the APRC party says it’s rather unfortunate that some of its members are accused of human rights violations and graft, including ousted dictator, Yahya Jammeh but insists the entire APRC party cannot be punished “for the crimes of a few people.”
“Yahya Jammeh is not APRC, but only an element of the party,” Jatta said.
Jammeh, 52, ruled the Gambia with an iron fist since he came to power in a coup in 1994. He fled to Equatorial Guinea after regional advanced towards the capital, poised to oust him.
He lost elections to the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, whose new government uncovered unmarked graves, in which Jammeh buried his perceived enemies killed on his orders.
“The allegations against Yahya Jammeh do not in any way mean that there are no other good elements in the party,” said Jatta, who activist are accusing of treason and demanding he withdraws his statement.
Jatta was the majority leader for the APRC-backed parliament and led efforts to approve a state of emergency to extend Jammeh’s mandate during the political standoff that was sparked by the erstwhile leader’s refusal to cede power.
The APRC suffered defeat in the hands of the longtime opposition party, the UDP, which is now part of the Gambia’s unity government led by Barrow during the parliamentary elections. It went from having 42 seats to winning only five seats.
Support for the party has dwindled since it emerged that Jammeh had swindled more than a billion dollars and stole millions from penniless pensioners.
The APRC is challenging the outcome of the parliamentary elections and Jatta remains hopeful that the party, which has been evicted from its party head office, can upset the next presidential polls.