Gambian authorities have arrested a university lecturer and political analyst for criticizing the country’s President Adama Barrow.
Dr. Ismaila Ceesay was arrested on Wednesday afternoon for saying President Barrow lacks focus and predicting long-term security problems in an interview with the Voice Newspaper, blasting the administration for shortsightedness in prioritizing needs.
Ceesay’s analysis that ECOMIG won’t prevent long-term security risk if Mr. Barrow does not win the trust of the army, which was loyal to ousted President Yahya Jammeh is the crux of his arrest.
“The era of being called for ‘questioning’ by the police because of an interview in a newspaper should be gone and forgotten. Gambians fought through sweat and blood for democracy and not a replica of Jammeh’s disdainful dictatorial tendencies,” said human rights campaigner, Pa Samba Jow.
Gambia’s police are notorious for arresting and questioning opponents of the government during Jammeh’s rule. It was used to intimidate and harass outspoken critics.
Activists have called for Ceesay’s immediate release. Ceesay is among a handful of citizens, mostly opposition figures arrested in the past six months for questioning by the police over politically charged statements.
“The arrest of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay because of an interview he gave to the Voice Newspaper is unacceptable and he must be released immediately,” Jow added.
An opposition activist, Landing Manneh is facing incitement charges and has been released on bail last week for implicating Minister of Foreign Affairs Ousainou Darboe in the clashes between opposition and government supporters.
Ceesay is a frequent guest on the Giss Giss show, an insightful political panel on the state television.
He has been critical of Barrow’s government in recent weeks as concerns that the once regarded political novice is morphing into a strongman become rife.
Ceesay in the few days leading to his detention by the police joined a growing number of people demanding the President to undo several decisions, including the starting of a new foundation and the appointment of a henchman of former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Gambia’s security is in the hands of the regional troops. They helped flush Jammeh out of power, ending the political standoff and starting Barrow’s reign.
Barrow widened the mandate of the West African force following an increase in post-electoral skirmishes in the southwestern Foni region.
His year-old government survived an alleged coup plot and his ability to ensure national security was thrown into question after two former generals trusted by Jammeh entered the country without being flagged.
Barrow admitted security failure and has reportedly requested additional West African troops. He is currently being secured by the troops, which numbers about 500. The mandate of the troops has been extended until next year.