The victims of Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh’s autocratic regime said Equatorial Guinea’s self-serving ruler, Teodoro Obiang cannot stop the apparent return and prosecution of the ex-military strongman.
Obiang and Guinea’s Alpha Conde, who helped negotiate Jammeh’s exit vowed to oppose any attempt to have Jammeh extradited to stand trials for alleged corruption human rights abuses.
“Presidents Obiang and Condé have no right to usurp the decision of the Gambian people as to whether Jammeh’s alleged crimes should be prosecuted,” said Madi Jobarteh, Programme manager for the Association of NGOs in the Gambia (TANGO).
“The African Union and ECOWAS should support our demands for justice, as they did in the Hissène Habré case, and not stand in our way.”
An international campaign backed by human rights groups is seeking to have Jammeh returned to the small West African nation to be tried. The international human rights attorney, Reid Brody that helped victims of Habré secure justice is part of the team.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has launched a truth commission and says he will engage the African Union and Equatorial Guinea if the Commission recommends that Jammeh is tried. But Obiang said handing over Jammeh to stand trial will set a bad precedent after he [Jammeh] stepped down peacefully.
“By suggesting that once you have been ahead of state you can never be prosecuted no matter what crimes you commit against your people, Obiang and Condé want to give rulers a blank check to murder and torture with complete impunity,” said Ayesha Jammeh, whose father Haruna Jammeh, and his sister Marcie, cousins of Yahya Jammeh, were murdered in 2005 after criticizing the former leader. “We Gambian victims won’t accept that and I’m sure no one in Africa will.”
Like Jammeh’s defeated regime, corruption, poverty, and repression plague Equatorial Guinea under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power since 1979, making him the world’s longest serving non-royal head of state.
Obiang won another term in April 2016 elections, the same year that Barrow handed Jammeh a shocking electoral upset, which most opposition groups boycotted, citing intimidation and procedural irregularities.