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‘I Won’t Defend Drug Traffickers,’ Says Gambian Opposition Leader

  • Peter Clottey

The leader of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) says security agencies are ill-equipped to deal decisively with an escalating “drug menace”.

The leader of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) says security agencies are ill-equipped to deal decisively with an escalating “drug menace”.

Ousainou Darboe, who is also an attorney, says he will continue refusing to defend accused drug traffickers.

“I have for the past 18 or 20 years declined to defend anybody who is charged with any offence connected with drug trafficking. Because of my abhorrence for those who are involved in drug trafficking, my abhorrence for those who use drugs. And I think it’s a menace to society and we should do everything possible to get the Gambian society rid of these anti-social people,” he said.

Political observers have often accused top officials of Gambia’s National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) of failing to tackle the drug problem. They accused the officials of being too “cosy” with alleged drug traffickers.

Attorney Darboe urged Gambians to join the fight against drug trafficking.

“Every Gambian should really give a helping hand in ensuring that those who use the Gambia as a conduit pass for their drug trafficking to Europe and other parts of West Africa are kept out of this country. And that will really sanitize our image to make sure that nobody uses this place as a transit point for their illegal drug trafficking,” Darboe said.

Gambia’s media reports that international drug cartels often use the country as a drug transit point with the help of local drug lords.

President Jammeh vowed Monday to clamp down on drug trafficking, saying he would rather die than allow some “misguided elements” to use the Gambia as a drug zone.

President Jammeh also fired three top NDEA officials as well as the Inspector General of Police over alleged corruption and conspiracy.

Attorney Darboe urged political parties to educate Gambians about the threats of drug trafficking.

“I believe all political parties should engage in a mass education of the Gambians to make them aware of the dangers of drug trafficking (and) all the vices about drug trafficking. I think that we should all make it our duty so that we fight the menace of this terrible thing that is happening to our country,” Darboe said.

He called on the international community to help Gambia’s efforts to deal with the drug trafficking problem.

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