Critics of President Adama Barrow have expressed outrage after the new leader took swipe at the civil society for “doing nothing” under Jammeh at a meeting with Gambians in Turkey.
Barrow said the toughest critics of his administration were quite during the time of the autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years.
“We have won (Jammeh) and anybody can talk but are we equal in our contributions to this victory? We should ask each other that question. Lots of people are saying ‘we will not tolerate this’, ‘we will not accept another Yahya Jammeh’, ‘we will not accept this and we will not accept that’,” Barrow argued.
“But when we were challenging Yahya Jammeh, they were in The Gambia. When Jammeh rejected the results they were in The Gambia. When Jammeh made a statement saying he has annulled the results, I and my opposition members were the ones who issued a statement responding to Jammeh. It was my colleagues [political players] who stood behind me but the people who are talking today were not visible.”
The Gambian leader also recounted how his then party, United Democratic Party, struggled to find a younger and educated person to lead the party but couldn’t get it.
Barrow said they have decided to mobilize people to attend Darboe and at more than two dozen others’ court cases but they could not get even up to a thousand people.
However, a programme manager of the association of civil society organizations in The Gambia, Madi Jobarteh, described the speech as “divisive” and “misrepresentation of facts.”
Jobarteh said the statement from the president is a bullying tactic for a man who does not want to be held accountable for his actions.
“If Barrow now asks what folks did in the past and on that basis of why they are speaking up now, is it because he wants to silence people. If people said they don’t want another Yaya Jammeh is that not a genuine call, especially if we see him follow some of the same Yahya Jammeh steps and tactics,” asked Jobarteh.
“What is even scarier was when Barrow chided the intellectuals as cowards and useless. Is this not the same infantile and dishonest attitude Yahya Jammeh used to stifle knowledge and intellectualism?”
Critics said Barrow is trying to give credit of Jammeh’s election defeat to his former party and other political leaders, excluding the rest of the population.
The President in recent months faced opposition for several decisions that has critics accusing him of solidifying his support base seek a second mandate, beyond the one term he pledged to serve.
Rights groups have praised Barrow’s government for taking steps to reverse the abusive legacy of Mr. Jammeh, who left The Gambia for exile in January 2017 under pressure from the regional body ECOWAS.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)