The Gambia. In January, former Communications Minister
Amadou Scattred Janneh was sentenced to life imprisonment
for preparing a coup to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh.
Three other people were sentenced to six years in prison.
Janneh, who was Minister of Communications 2005-06, holds
American citizenship. He and the others convicted were
convicted of high treason and of having printed and
distributed T-shirts with revealing text. The jerseys had
the text “Coalition to change the Gambia. End of
dictatorship now ”.
countryaah, President Jammeh took up his fourth term on January 19,
after winning the criticized presidential election in
November 2011. In his speech at re-entry, Jammeh threatened
to "obliterate the almost 82%" of the country's employees he
thinks are lazy and not doing their job, but only retrieves
salary. Either you work, leave the job or end up in jail,
the president reasoned. If the workers did not improve, he
would "wipe out" them, he said without explaining further.
Jammeh promised to create more jobs for young people and to
strengthen the role of women in society. He further said
that he would turn Gambia into an economic superpower within
five years. Jammeh also promised zero tolerance against
corruption and drugs. The popular tourist destination of
Gambia has recently become an important transit country for
cocaine smuggling from Latin America.
In the March 29 parliamentary elections, the governing
APRC (Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and
Reconstruction) won big and received 52% of the vote, giving
the party 43 of the 48 electoral seats. Six opposition
parties boycotted the election because they felt it was
settled in advance and that the government had used state
funds to influence voters. About half of those entitled to
vote participated in the election. The boycott meant that
the ruling party lacked opponents in more than half of the
electoral districts. The Opposition Party NRP (National
Reconciliation Party) and some independent candidates ran
for election. The NRP got a seat in Parliament and the
independent candidates got four seats.
In June, a former Gambian Minister of Justice, Fatou
Bensouda, took over as new Chief Prosecutor at the
International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
At the end of August, nine convicted prisoners were
executed despite appeals from the African Union, among
others. President Jammeh had said in a televised speech that
all 47 prisoners sentenced to death in Gambia would be
executed in August and September. According to a Gambian
pressure group, many of the condemned were political
prisoners, many of them military and civil servants
convicted of high treason since Jammeh took power in 1994 in
a military coup. The death penalty had been abolished by
Jammeh's representatives, but reinstated by Jammeh in 1995.
According to Amnesty International, no executions had been
carried out in The Gambia for 27 years before the nine
prisoners were killed. The death penalty was, according to
Amnesty, a well-known tool against the political opposition
in The Gambia.
The executions were harshly criticized by other human
rights groups, EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton and AU
President, as well as Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi. They
appealed to Jammeh to stop the executions. Two of the
executed were from neighboring Senegal, which Senegal's
Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye strongly protested. Via Gambia's
ambassador to Senegal, Mbaye asked that a third sentenced
Senegal would have his sentence converted to life
imprisonment. The criticism took effect. In mid-September,
Jammeh announced that the executions would be halted, and he
admitted it was due to the domestic and foreign protests and
appeals. However, he added that the country would execute
executions again if the crime in the country does not
A new Gambian opposition group, called the Gambia
National Transitional Council (CNTG), was formed in Senegal
in September. Group leader Sheikh Sidia Bayo said that CNTG
would form an exile government in Senegal to fight the
dictatorship in Gambia. The goal was to get Jammeh out of
power and end a regime that did not respect human rights.