Riot police were deployed to restore order

In the wake of recent political clashes between supporters of rival parties, a Gambian civil society group has called on Gambians to exercise restraint and allow for divergent views and for the democratic process to take course.

Last Monday and Wednesday, supporters of Gambia’s former governing party APRC who are on a tour of the country were involved in a bloody fracas with supporters of President Barrow and the United Democratic Party (UDP) in Mankamang Kunda and Busumbala.

Several people were seriously injured and many properties were damaged in the clashes.

The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA) said the violence between political rivals is unacceptable, undemocratic and a threat to the fragile security in our new found dispensation.

“We hope the Barrow Government will take all measures to secure the area and the country as a whole and that all perpetrators of political violence be dealt with according to the law,” said Sohna Sallah, head of DUGA.

Properties including vehicles were damaged

She added: “In addition, we call on our leaders and authorities to publicly condemn this violence, and perform a comprehensive security and intelligence review that will mitigate such incidents from reoccurring; at the same time preserve the democratic rights of Gambians.  The concerns of the citizens especially the vulnerable youth population must be heard and addressed.”

DUGA said the incidents in the past few days highlight the urgent need for government, civil society and citizens to engage in dialogue, civic and political education to protect our transition from dictatorship to democracy.

With regard to the suspension of permit for political activities by the police, DUGA said it is only a superficial fix to underlying issues.

It added: “ It is a government’s duty to ensure the security of its citizens when they are engaged in constitutionally guaranteed and lawful actions.”