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Gambia Arrests Opposition Leaders

  • James Butty

Gambian security forces have arrested three opposition leaders. A government press release accused them of involvement in subversive and anti-state activities.

Ousaninu Darbo is a lawyer and leader of the opposition United Democratic Party in the Gambia. He told English to Africa reporter James Butty the government claims are vague. Mr. Darbo says the three opposition leaders arrested are Hamat Bah, leader of the National Reconciliation Party; Omar Jallow of the People's Progressive Party of ex-president Sir Dauda Jawara; and Kalifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism Party. Mr. Darbo, quoting the government press release Tuesday night, says the three opposition leaders were arrested as part of the police investigation of opposition involvement in subversive activities and threats to national security. He says these claims are nebulous allegations by a dictator trying to get rid of his opponents. Mr. Darbo says the opposition has written to President Yahya Jammeh asking him to provide evidence of subversive activities by the opposition or else apologize.

The Gambia is slated to host the African Union summit as well as conduct presidential election next year. Mr. Darbo says that by arresting the opposition leaders, President Jammeh has amply demonstrated to peers in Africa that he does not deserve the honor of hosting the Africa Union summit. He hopes that other African leaders, who are interested in ensuring that democracy flourishes in Africa, will take action. Mr. Darbo says Gambian democracy is turning sour, and that these recent arrests are examples of what will happen to the Gambian opposition in the run-up to the presidential election.