Omar Jallow (left) and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe (right)
Omar Jallow (left) and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe (right)

(JallofNews) – The Gambia’s former governing party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has strongly condemned the conviction and sentencing of members of the country’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) by a ‘kangaroo court’ in Banjul.

The PPP described the verdict as a travesty of justice.

Around 30 UDP members including its founder and leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, were last week given a three-year jail term for protesting against the arrest and killing in April of one of their party’s executive member by officials of the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The PPP believes that the opposition members were wrongly accused and sentence to jail for standing up and exercising their God-given constitutional right which is guaranteed in the country’s constitution and which the President Yahya Jammeh swore and promised to uphold.

“The PPP vehemently condemned in the strongest possible terms the ruling of Yahya Jammeh’s kangaroo court and demand for their immediate and unconditional release,” said Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ), former Agriculture minister and leader of the PPP.

“The PPP stands with UDP in these very trying times in solidarity with all the families whose love ones are unjustly incarcerated and pray for their speedy release.”

The PPP said the use of brute force by regime of President Jammeh to pacify opponents and perceived enemies has been going on for far too long and Gambians cannot give in or give up.

It added: “We cannot afford to be silent; we cannot be neutral and driving on the reverse is certainly not an option. The arrest, detention and subsequent mock trial of innocent Gambians who were out to exercise their civil rights, was characterised by torture and humiliation meted out to a larger extent by rogue law enforcement officers.

“The PPP in collaboration with other opposition parties and all willing Gambians,

Gambia opposition UDP protest
UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe, fourth from the right,  was jailed for leading an anti-regime protest in April

will ensure that justice is served in all these cases no matter how long it takes; no amount of legislation would be enough to indemnify culprits for the barbaric, systematic and inhuman treatment inflicted on our fellow citizens.”

The PPP added that it is also taking President Jammeh’s threat to kill all Mandinkas very seriously and warned that it would not be on the sidelines while the ‘brutal dictator’ unleashes his wrath upon Gambians.

The opposition party added: “Henceforth, let us shift to a higher gear as we reclaim our country from the clutches of a tyrant. To start with, the PPP is unequivocally demands government of the Republic of the Gambia to overturn all convictions from kangaroo courts headed by international judges; immediately stop all arbitrary detention and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and ensure a level playing field, unconditionally meet demands from the opposition parties and civil societies to reform the current electoral laws.

“We also remind the Government of the Gambia, of its obligations arising from the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), to which Gambia is a state party.”

The PPP said the UDP’s saga should be a wake-up call for the opposition parties. It called on fellow opposition parties to once and for all to do what is required of them by majority of the Gambian people.

The PPP added: “We are presently witnessing a despot who is getting more and more paranoid and only a strong and well structured, effective opposition alliance/coalition can save the Gambia from the looming catastrophe. Now is the time then ever-before for us to seize this opportunity to save our country.

“The PPP believes this is not the time for partisan politics and bickering. Our common purpose and love for our country should transcend any individual position or interest. We have operated in silos for far too long and it has not yielded the results all Gambians are yearning for. Our resolve to overcome our differences must be our guiding principle to forge a united front against oppression and brutality.”