Gambia’s main opposition leader, Fabakary Tombong Jatta is accusing Gambian authorities of unjustly targeting opposition supporters in a region where the defeated party still enjoys strong backing.
Jatta, the former Majority Leader of the Jammeh-backed National Assembly denounced on Monday the killing of an unarmed protester in Kanilai during demonstrations against the presence of West African troops in the Foni region.
“The killing is unjustifiable and the APRC calls on the government to investigate this heinous act immediately and bring to justice those found responsible,” he said.
APRC was defeated in the elections last year by the coalition-led government and had refused to investigate a string of opposition deaths during its 22-year iron fist rule of the tiny nation.
Jatta said Kanilai, the birth home of his boss, ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh is heavily militarized and the people discriminated against. He demanded that the government must “give equal treatment of the people of Kanilai and Foni like any other village or region in the Gambia.”
“While we recognize the rights and constitutional mandate of the armed and security forces to deploy troops to any part of The Gambia for the maintenance of security, law, and order, we are deeply concerned of the highly militarization of Kanilai and Foni to such a high level, which may create fear and intimidation to the people in the area.”
Following last week’s deadly protest in which security forces were allegedly attacked by some demonstrators, who were armed with locally made firearms, Gambian authorities had reinforced troops in the Fonis, especially in the Kansala District.
Jatta rubbished Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty’s claims of violence being provoked by armed protesters saying “the demonstrators were unarmed and were met with brute force as they approached Kanfenda.”
Jatta, who in Kanilai said “we are willing to die for Jammeh and the APRC” just days before the uproar says Gambia’s new government is paranoid about the activities of the APRC and Mr. Jammeh.
“We called on the government to stop being paranoid about the APRC and President Jammeh and to focus on improving the livelihood of Gambians,” he said.
Some senior members of the APRC have been implicated in last week’s events and stand accused of inciting the protest that left one person dead and several people seriously injured.
Violence took over Foni following Jammeh’s departure to Equatorial Guinea. It escalated following the APRC’s unsurprised loss in the parliamentary elections in April. The former ruling party won only five seats, all of them in the Foni region.
Activists and opposition leaders have all called for an independent investigation into the death of Haruna Jammeh, who died of his gunshot wounds on Saturday.