(JollofNews) – A former Education minister in the Gambian regime of President Yahya Jammeh has reacted with fury to the three-year jail term given to the leader of the country’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and over a dozen of his supporters.
Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, who served as minister of Education from 1999 to 2004, decried injustice in the Gambia and called on Gambians and especially religious leaders give counsel to President Yahya Jammeh before it is too late.
Opposition Leader Ousainou Darboe was jailed on Wednesday with 18 of his supporters for taking part in a street protest in April to demand answers over the death in custody of the party’s organising secretary, Solo Sandeng.
Mr Sandeng had led a protest which ended with Gambian security forces beating and arresting dozens for making a public call for electoral reform and the resignation of President Yahya Jammeh.
Reacting the verdict on her Facebook, Ms Ndong-Jatta who is now serving as director of UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa and UNESCO’s representative in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and the Gambia, said she feels very troubled at heart for the peace Gambians once cherished is under threat.
In a long post that has since been deleted, Ms Ndong-Jatta wrote: “Where are our men of wisdom, integrity and good judgement who silently watch a whole nation torn apart?
“Where is justice? Why is the Nation brought to its knees because of fear. What must be done now? If this has gone beyond the people to defend themselves then the rest of humanity must be invited to salvage the nation? Where are the religious leaders? Certainly there is no religion which condones injustice. Since he [President Jammeh]told you in his address at Koriteh [Eid ul Fitr] to be challenged or be informed when things are not right or where he has gone wrong, please act now before it is too late.
“Do so tomorrow or before the start of next week. Pray in all churches and mosques across the nation and in the diaspora and call upon GOD’s intervention. GOD loves the Gambia. I am sure Yahya has not been advised right by those who are more au fait with the justice system. Or are they also under the spell of fear! Is his cabinet also under the same spell.”
Ms Ndong-Jatta who joined UNESCO in September 2004 as director of the Division of Basic Education in the Education Sector added: “The only fear for me is the backlash. Gambians must sincerely call for a dialogue with the authorities and stem the tide of a possible chaos. This is not the time for opposition parties to rejoice as they could be the next to be brought to their knees in his [President Jammeh] cherry picking strategy.
“Fear must not create this state of inaction. Dialogue with the functionaries of state is urgent. Please let us together find peaceful means to salvage the nation so that we do not all go down together. It could be worse than Rwanda if we take up a response anticipated by the regime. We cannot be any match for military response from within. I invite religious leaders of the different faith base to come together and agree on a way to advise the president and his cabinet. This is beyond politics.
“GOD bless Gambia and its people! I feel very troubled at heart for the peace we once cherished is under threat!”