UDP supporters outside the high court in Banjul
UDP supporters outside the high court in Banjul

(JollofNews) – Scuffles have broken out on Monday afternoon  in Banjul between security officers and supporters of the opposition United Democratic Party  (UDP) protesting against the continuous detention of their party leader.

A large crowd of opposition supporters had gathered outside the high court where the UDP leader, Ousainou Darboe and over 20 other party supporters are being tried for various criminal offences including conspiring to commit felony, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.

They were arrested last month for taking part in an ‘unauthorised’ protest against the regime of President Yahya Jammeh.

A convoy of UDP supporters
A convoy of UDP supporters

An application for bail by a group of lawyers defending them was refused last week by a special criminal court presided over by Justice Ottaba.

It is unclear what may have started the scuffle but video footages posted on Facebook show riot police flexing their muscles on the opposition supporters wearing white t-shirts bearing the face of their  detained leader in front and the slogan Kalamaa Revolution on the back around the Police Intervention Unit station in Kanifing.

There are reports that tear gas was used to disperse the large crowd and a number of arrests were made.

Meanwhile the UDP has issued a statement condemning what it called an ‘overzealous response’ to its members by the security officers.

An injured UDP supporter
An injured UDP supporter

The party said  while it is assessing the situation, it can confirmed that its supporters were assaulted by members of the security forces including the discharge of firearms causing numerous injuries.

“The Gambian people will remain steadfast in their fight for freedom, justice and democracy using all the lawful means available to them,” the party said.

“The shedding of innocent blood will not deter our March to freedom and we serve notice that it is the inherent right of every citizen to defend themselves from the excesses of a tyranny that poses an existential threat to our nation and its people.”

This is the first time opposition supporters have clashed with security officers since the beginning of the court case against the party executive.