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Gambia: Barrow promises a fresh start, deals with history of injustice


Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has promised sweeping reforms saying his government would respect freedom of speech.

Amongst some of Barrow’s first decisions as a president was to reverse Jammeh’s announcement that Gambia would leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Justice will guide our action and this Government intends to maintain that spirit of national unity. The whole world supports us and The Gambia will remain a beacon of peace and hope for others to draw lessons from. Long Live The Republic! Long Live the United People of The Gambia! Forward Ever! Backward Never!” he said in his speech,” Adama said.

His inauguration as the president of Gambia symbolises the end of the brutal 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh.

Policewoman Adama Manneh watched the preparations with a mixture of relief and sorrow.

Her brother, Chief Ebrima Manneh, a journalist who was arrested has been missing since 2006.

When Barrow ordered the release of a number of political detainees soon after his return from exile in Senegal, Adama went to the prisons in Banjul hoping she would finally find her brother.

“I went to headquarters where the list was brought to see if your people is there on that detention. Where I went to, his name is not there, so I have to go to the major crime. And lawyer complain that my brother was also arrested from his office and now he’s not seen,” she said.

Authorities say they have launched investigations into the death and disappearance of people who could not be accounted for so far.

The police say they are already looking into 30 cases of missing detainees.

Human rights groups have accused Jammeh of torturing and killing opponents during his time in power.

Members of his administration like Sonko, then minister of interior have also been accused of carrying out atrocities.
Manneh said he would like Jammeh, who is currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea to face justice too.

“We want justice. I want the president (Yahya Jammeh) to tell us why he killed him and why should he kill him. I don’t think he did anything to warrant him his death. He did not need to be killed,” she said.

A former editor-in-chief of The Independent – a Gambian newspaper, Musa Saidykhan is watching progress back home closely.

Before he fled to the United States, Saidykhan was arrested and tortured in 2006. NIA agents electrocuted his genitals, beat him with batons, suffocated him with a plastic bag and broke his right hand.

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