Senegal: Gambia's president-elect calls for end to arbitrary arrests, media closure

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – Gambia's president-elect Adama Barrow has called on outgoing government of president Yahya Jammeh to end arbitrary arrests and detentions and closure of media houses in the West African nation.

Barrow made the call on Tuesday following the closure of two private radio stations and arbitrary arrests and detentions of people wearing T-shirts with a slogan #GambiaHasDecided by personnel of the country's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on New Year's day and 2 January. The five of them have since been released.

"Openness and dialogue are the traits that Gambia needs at the moment and not media closures and arbitrary arrests and detentions," Barrow said in a statement obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal.

"All should pledge their firm allegiance to be ever true to the Gambia and make our people to live in liberty and happiness and never become a bully of our own people to make them live in captivity and fear."

According to the statement, the office of the incoming president had written to the outgoing president to request for the opening of a channel of communication so that agreements could be reached on a transition agenda that would ensure the release of those who were detained without trial and prevent any new arrests and detentions without due process.

It said Barrow regretted to see that the climate of cooperation which commenced after Jammeh accepted the results of the 1 December 2016 elections was evaporating after he changed his position.

"The office of the incoming president wants it to be known that it does not want to inherit a country where media freedom is fettered and human rights violated with impunity.

"Hence, it intends to do everything it could to prevail on the institutions of state to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens.

"The media, especially, are the eyes of the government and the people in any country that values democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights. Suppression of the media would lead to a society of uncertainty," the statement said.

Taranga FM and Hilltop FM radio stations were closed down by men who identified themselves as personnel of NIA on Sunday.

The president-elect also pointed out that he was fully convinced that the opening up of the media since the campaign period had contributed to a more informed citizenry and a more informed country.

"It is a sign of weakness for any side of the political spectrum to resort to media closures rather than engagement to put one’s position across.

"In the same vein, slogans on T-Shirts have nothing to do and will not upset the existing political balance in the country. Such slogans could not be stretched in any way to constitute a destabilization agenda or a crime. The (opposition) Coalition is in full control of its support base and has a clear agenda that no one could derail," the statement said.

The statement called on the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office to host a meeting of Gambia's Inter-Party Committee in the face of the crisis surrounding the electoral office and the security chiefs ''to discuss and address the post-electoral challenges so that tensions could be effaced and peaceful co-existence assured until a peaceful transfer of power could be effected".
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 4Jan2017

04 january 2017 14:29:12

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