(JollofNews) – Critics of the Gambian regime in the diaspora have ridiculed a recent amnesty offered to them by President Yahya Jammeh.
As part of the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, Mr Jammeh in an interview with the state television, GRTS, said he is granting an amnesty to his critics and opponents in the Diaspora.
“I swear to God, I have forgiven them. They are free to come back to this country,” he said.
“However, I will not forgive for obvious reasons some of them, and they know themselves. But the rest are free to come home. Those who personalised everything, I will not let them to come back. If they come, they are going to jail. Those I am not forgiving are less than ten.”
But Sidi Morro Sanneh, a US-based Gambian economist and outspoken critic of the Jammeh regime has described it as a political gimmick designed to buy the regime time to recover lost grounds in the public relations campaign.
“It is not an amnesty because there is no official declaration that legally binds the regime,” Mr Sanneh said.
“The origination of the idea casts doubt about the seriousness of the so-called amnesty offer i.e. from a private citizen with known association with the Gambia Embassy in Washington makes the offer a farce.”
Also reacting to the amnesty, Dr Amadou Scattered Janneh, a Gambian pro-democracy campaigner based in the US, described it as a pure ‘charade’ meant to divert attention from the serious challenges facing the regime.
“With both dwindling resources and international partners, the repressive regime is finding its position untenable and any serious attempt to reform itself must begin at home,” Dr Janneh said.
He said for Mr Jammeh to be taken serious, he has to release all political prisoners and illegally detained persons in the country to show that he’s ready for change.
Pata PJ, a Gambian blogger and media commentator, said it’s rather unfortunate that in a supposedly democratic state, a mere impromptu presidential pronouncement do become law even though there are stipulated ways of doing things.
“Look, these are nothing new to anybody who’d known President Jammeh, and nobody is falling for the half-hearted olive branch,” he said.
“We all remembered the same kind of amnesty was extended to Gambians in 2001, during his inaugural speech at the Independence Stadium. Many thought that was sincere and Jammeh indeed was poised for national reconciliation. He didn’t honour it. To me, this was neither amnesty nor reconciliatory. As a matter of fact, there was never any crime committed by dissenting.”
He added: “We are Gambians in the Diaspora who have been disenfranchised by this administration even when the 1997 constitution gives us the right to participate in voting, especially in presidential elections. We have the right to participate in national discourses as we’re genuinely interested in the socio-political well-being of the Gambia. So we love the Gambia but not desperate to go ‘semester’ and have our rights confiscated by a tyrant.
“That’s what Jammeh is failing to understand. It’s not personal. We’re fighting to free the Gambia from the clutches of an oppressor that we’re not going to be coerced or bribed into abandoning. If he wants a peaceful, stable Gambia, he must create an enabling environment but not issuing threats with arrogance. Until then, he can keep his conditional amnesty for Gambians are determined today than ever, to put an end to the dictatorship and take our country back. And that’s by any means necessary.”
For Samsideen Phatey, a US-based Gambian online radio commentator, President Jammeh’s amnesty is a mere political strategy to ‘neutralise the Diaspora activism that has tainted more his already battered international image and staining his national reputation’.
“Giving amnesty by issuing a threat is mediocre of any president, it shows it is not genuine, and proves beyond any reasonable doubt that this nation has by far the most immature leadership,” Mr Fatty said.
“It explains why government cannot prioritise programmes and enact great policies for youth employment, agricultural commercialisation and economic development.”