Gambia’s Foreign Secretary Ousainou Darboe has admitted to recommending the appointment of an ex-House Speaker to avoid the exclusion of tribesmen of the country’s former ruler.
Darboe, 69, supported the appointment of Abdoulie Bojang as the country’s Ambassador to South Africa sparking an outcry.
Activists and even some supporters of the coalition government accuse Bojang of being part of former President Yahya Jammeh’s top enablers helping him to stay in power.
Gambia’s parliament voted to extend Jammeh’s rule declaring a state of emergency in the days leading to a political deadlock that nearly slipped the country into a civil war.
“You cannot exclude the Jolas in the government. They did not have any position in the cabinet. It is important to appoint one of them as a member of the government in a capacity that is appreciable,” Darboe said.
Former Speaker Bojang was not implicated in any human rights abuses and he has been lobbying during the impasse to get Legislators to distance themselves not to vote for the state of emergency to extend Jammeh’s mandate, according to Mr. Darboe.
Darboe says Bojang’s appointment was not inappropriate and to avoid the practice of the former regime, it was important to appoint anyone without regard for their political affiliations.
Whiles Darboe’s explanation may win over some critics of Bojang’s appointment, those opposing the political figurehead said there are many other prominent Jolas that have not worked for Jammeh.
But according to Darboe, amongst those who are among the prominent Jolas in the country, Bojang is the only person with a clean record. The rest, he said, have committed human rights abuses, crimes against the state and rained havoc on the economy.
Jammeh had only given appointments to those supporting his party and accused of giving priority to his tribesmen. Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has vowed his government will different.
Jammeh was defeated in last year’s elections. Although he initially conceded defeat, he later rejected the results citing “unacceptable abnormalities.” West African troops forced him to flee to Equatorial Guinea.