Former Secretary General and Head of Civil Service, Momodou Sabally said a speech that sowed strife towards him was handwritten by former President Yahya Jammeh and ordered to read it on national television.
The statement, which attacked the Mandinka ethnic group caused many to accuse the former chief of staff of the autocratic ruler of hate speech, allegations that Sabally denied.
“It was handwritten by Jammeh himself and typed. We tried to dissuade him but he insisted and it fell on me as Secretary General to read it. I had no choice at that position and I do not endorse it,” said Sabally to GRTS’ Abdoulie Sey.
“Even some people recognized that my body language and what I was reading did not match. I will not insult anybody talkless of my own tribe. I am a cultured person and I come from a noble culture and tribe.”
According to Sabally, refusing to deliver the statement as ordered by the former iron-fist ruler could see him suffer a faith that could have led to his extinction as of “those that defied him [Jammeh.”
Many former aides of Mr. Jammeh said they feared for their lives and even resignation could be seen as a disregard for the ex-ruler’s authority.
Jammeh’s regime accused Western powers of conniving with the enemies of the Gambia [the opposition and the media] to mount what it calls a shameless campaign against the government.
Jammeh considered the UDP party a Mandinka party, which he said had helped his political adversaries secure political asylum in Europe and the United States.
Jammeh had during his 22-year rule claimed two western nations were behind the establishment of the UDP in Atlanta. The nations he said had the inclination that forming a Mandinka party will make him [Jammeh] easily lose polls.
Jammeh was defeated in last year’s elections by a UDP presidential hopeful turned independent candidate that was backed by seven other political parties.
UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, who is now the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister distanced his party from tribal politics, saying those that think that the UDP is a Mandinka affiliated party are “ignorant of the party’s composition and values.”
Sabally only served a year as Jammeh’s Chief of Staff before they fell apart. Until Jammeh’s defeat, he was in and out of prison facing numerous charges of economic crime, abuse of office, neglect of duty and giving false information.
The charges were dropped after President Adama Barrow came to power. State prosecutors said proves emerged that they were politically motivated charges against Sabally, who last served in Jammeh’s government as director of the state broadcast network.