A Gambian opposition leader on Monday condemned the killing of a protester during demonstrations that turned violent in Kanilai, saying the use of a firearm was unnecessary and defeats the purpose of fighting decades of dictatorship.
Mama Kandeh, a candidate who lost in the December presidential election disputed by former President Yahya Jammeh is now demanding answers from the government of President Adama Barrow as to “how the blood of a Gambian could be spilled during a peaceful protest.”
“The use of firearms was unnecessary to quell a peaceful demonstration by civilians and defeats the purpose of fighting against 22 years misrule,” said MC Cham Jr., a spokesperson for the GDC.
“The government’s snail pace in path to reconciliation will only further divide our society.”
Gambian authorities, however, said demonstrators were armed with single barreled locally made firearms and engaged in violent and provocative behaviors that resulted in the death of one protester and left several people injured, including three soldiers.
The violence erupted Friday morning in Kanilai, former autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh’s native home when demonstrators burnt tires, blocked the entrance to the village and confronted West African troops stationed in the Foni Kansala District.
Security forces have denied intentionally shooting Haruna Jatta, 54, who died of his gunshot wound Saturday. The Kanilai revolt is sure to deepen antagonism between the new government and supporters of Jammeh.
West African troops were deployed to the Gambia to avert civil war after Jammeh, who lost elections to the opposition coalition candidate, Adama Barrow refused to cede power.
His supporters, mostly in Foni region are now demanding that the troops desert southwestern Gambia, accusing them of harassing, intimidating and threatening them.
The clashes marked the bloodiest confrontation since the height of unrest in the months after Jammeh’s ouster and the opposition GDC is calling for an independent investigation into the use of excessive force by West African troops.