Gambia’s former Vice-President, Fatoumata Tambajang, broke silence over the recent alleged attempted coup that was reportedly thwarted by the army’s High Command.
She made it clear that the rule of law must prevail no matter the outcome of the case.
“My opinion is, if the court finds the detainees guilty, it should prosecute them in accordance with the law. If it finds the contrary, it should free them unconditionally,” she told JollofNews in an exclusive interview.
Gambian authorities announced in December that security forces foiled an advanced plan spearheaded by a group of junior soldiers and officers to topple the democratically-elected government of President Adama Barrow.
State prosecutors have so far pressed charges against Eleven suspects, including two civilians. A twelfth person is still on the run as investigators continue to zero in on the alleged coupists.
A leading figure of the country’s civil society movement, VP Tambajang was instrumental in bringing opposition parties under one big tent. The Coalition 2016 subsequently defeated President Yahya Jammeh in a dramatic election.
When asked about the security sector reform (SSR) that was launched under her watch in 2017 with the view “to making it more responsive to the security and justice needs of the country,” she has this to say:
“The SSR has not yet taken shape.”
Security forces carried out a number of exactions during Jammeh’s two-decade long regime. Some of the perpetrators,who testified before the truth commission, have confessed to crimes they committed at the direction of the former Gambian leader.
In light of the alleged coup plot, Gambia’s former second-in-command urged government to “complete and implement the SSR this year to enable the security services to play their constitutional mandate.”
She then added: “the engagement should include: call on government to provide well equipped, professional and well cared servicemen.”
On the way forward, she called on civil society organisations (CSOs) and development partners to “engage the government to be open, tolerant, and to adopt effective social dialogue.”
As the tiny West African nation is still navigating through the new democratic dispensation, VP Tambajang emphasized the need for Gambians to “consolidate the country’s economic and democratic gains, respect for the rule of law, human rights and cohesive peace, reconciliation, citizens participation in nation building.”
She reiterated her commitment to the reforms initiated in the aftermath of the regime change, adding that “the recommended democratic, secure, peaceful, just and progressive environment are the surest path to advance our country. ”
According to her, government should spare no efforts to push ahead with all other reforms, including the Constitution, civil service, electoral, legal and decentralization in accordance with the National Development Plan.
To contain the ticking time bomb of the situation the youths are confronted with, she unequivocally stated that government should support the productive sectors in order to attain its main objectives: “inclusive growth, vibrant local and diaspora owned enterprises, employment creation and rural development.”
“Increase support to issues of migration, including reintegration of returnees in order to mitigate their desperation and criminal behavior,” she said.