President Adama Barrow has said that supporters of the ousted leader, Yahya Jammeh are a part of the Gambian society and that their rights will be secured and guaranteed.
Barrow’s statement came at a time when opposition activists are accusing government supporters of inciting violence and reprisal attacks amid calls for the banning of the defeated ex-ruling party.
“I told them that supporters of the former regime are part of Gambian society and like everyone else, are stakeholders in the reforms taking place,” Mr. Barrow said.
“Some of them had embraced the change of regime and are supporting my government. In politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. One has to be courageous to take criticism.”
Barrow met with EU Human Rights Representative, Stavros Lambrinidis, whose team had battled Jammeh’s regime with 17 demands to help improve the deteriorating human rights condition in the country at the time.
Jammeh was accused of enforced disappearances, torture, killings and brutally suppressing dissenting voices. Security forces under Jammeh acted with impunity and the former autocratic ruler refused to prosecute them.
“We are optimistic and willing to learn while working towards comprehensive reforms including the security sector. We will bring in a new and all-encompassing Constitution for the Third Republic,” said Barrow.
Lambrinidis said he appreciated the efforts of the government to change policies, hearts, and minds, and integrate human rights in its reforms. He added that the Barrow administration had encouraged many with the inclusion of members of civil society in its endeavors.
Gambia says it will set up a truth and reconciliation commission to look into crimes committed by the former regime, and it will offer to pay reparations to victims.
Barrow’s government is under pressure to act as calls for justice grow. Nine former high-ranking officers with the National Intelligence Agency were arrested and charged with murder in the death of an opposition activist.