Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - A coalition of The Gambia's civil society organisations, most of them based outside the country, has hailed the West African regional bloc ECOWAS for its decision not to send observers to the country's legislative and presidential polls 24 Nov.
In a letter written to ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho, the eight-group Civil Society Associations Gambia (CSAG) expressed its ''unreserved support of the ECOWAS Commission’s position and hope more attention will...be paid to the atrocities being perpetrated by the regime''.
CSAG congratulated and reassured the ECOWAS Commission, saying ''the decision taken by His Excellency Hon. James Victor Gbeho on behalf of the ECOWAS member states is, under The Gambia’s prevailing political climate, the right one.''
It said for the past decade and half, Gambians had undeservedly been subjected to a litany of egregious rights abuses, and that the Yahya Jammeh regime had turned the country into another police state, ''enforcing Yahya Jammeh’s grand vision of micromanaging the lives of Gambians for the purposes of their total and complete control''.
''ECOWAS as the regional body has made a truthful and an exact assessment and characterization of The Gambia’s operating political environment. The Gambian regime may deny or refute the ECOWAS Commission’s position all they want; it will not change the fact that the elections were being held under an entrenched climate of fear that has bedeviled the country over the past decade and half.
''The Yahya Jammeh regime has imposed a divisive political culture that subjects innocent Gambians to constant threat of arrest and incarceration,'' the group said in the letter, a copy of which was made available to PANA here Sunday.
The group detailed several human rights violations in the West African nation, including the assassination of the late President of The Gambia Press Union, Deyda Hydara; the massacre of 44 Ghanaians by Gambian security forces, and the death of about 100 Gambians.
The Gambia government reacted angrily to the ECOWAS decision, saying it "is utterly dismayed by, and condemns in the strongest unequivocal terms'', the decision not to send an observer mission to Gambia for the polls.
-0- PANA SEG 4Dec2011