Thousands of Gambians Protest for Former President Yahya Jammeh's Return from Exile
Supporters of the former statesman want the current Gambian government to guarantee his right to return from self-exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Yesterday, thousands of supporters of former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh took to the outskirts of the capital city Banjul. According to Aljazeera, they demanded that the current government under President Adama Barrow guarantee the former statesman's return from exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Jammeh ruled the West African country for over two decades and subsequently lost to Barrow in the national elections back in 2017.
In one of the several audio recordings released by the deputy spokesman for Jammeh's political party to the media, Jammeh said that, "I am coming back. They said they drove me out of the country. Apart from Allah, nobody can take me out of The Gambia."
Chairman of the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Sheriff Kijera, responded to Jammeh's appeal to return to The Gambia saying:
"He is a citizen. He has every right to stay in his hometown and go and answer to the law. Former President Yahya Jammeh's rule in The Gambia was a tyrannical and brutal dictatorship. If former president Jammeh is authorized to return to The Gambia without being arrested, charged and prosecuted for his crimes or transferred to another state for him to face justice, it would be a big failure on the part of the government of The Gambia to uphold its duty to the people of Gambia, as well as its international obligation to provide an effective remedy to victims."
As of last year, The Gambia Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission was set up to hear testimony from victims and high-ranking government officials about the crimes allegedly committed by Jammeh during his 22-year rule. Human Rights Watch reports that Jammeh is said to have allegedly killed political opponents, approximately 56 West African migrants, carried out the arbitrary detaining of women in so-called "witch hunts" and the rape of several women including former beauty Gambian beauty queen, Fatou Jallow.
The now 23-year-old broke her silence in June of last year and publicly alleged that Jammeh had raped her while in office. Since then, women across the country have rallied around her under the banner of #IAmToufah.
Calls for Jammeh's return come at a time when Gambians are also pushing for the resignation of current President Barrow following his commitment to only serve as head of state for three years.
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