President Barrow with Jammeh-era ministers

(JollofNews) – President Adama Barrow of the Gambia has defended his public meeting with former ministers of President Yahya Jammeh’s APRC regime.

The president has come under a lot criticism by some Gambians in the diaspora who have questioned the timing of his meeting with  a group of people who had served in a regime they accused of committing serious rights abuses against its citizens.

But the president has defended the meeting with former vice-president Isatou Njie-Saidy, ex-Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, ex-Information, Communication and Technology Minister Sheriff Bojang, APRC spokesman Seedy Njie and others at the Kairaba Hotel, which he said was aimed at facilitating a formal handover of ministerial responsibilities from the old to the new administration.

He said there was no formal handing over of power between the APRC government and his due to weeks of political standoff following former President Jammeh’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election results.

Mr Barrow added:”Our 1997 Gambian Constitution requires a defeated President to exit office after an election. That is why the outgoing president was expected to properly hand-over power to my government. This is to make sure there is institutional continuity of knowledge and experience. This requires two sides to work on a transitional programme. The political stalemate after the December 2016 election made it impossible to have a proper handing over. No formal hand-over was undertaken between the government of ex-President Jammeh and my current Government.”

He added that in the last days of Mr Jammeh’s regime, many ministers had resigned their post and left the country, thereby leaving a vacuum in their ministries, which is seriously affecting the functions of his administration.

He lamented that aside from adversely affecting ordinary Gambians, the failed transition from Jammeh to him had damaged the image of the country and caused widespread public fear and panic.

While  appealing to Gambians to unite and contribute to the unity and togetherness of the country irrespective of their political, ethnic, and religious affiliation, Mr Barrow said his government is committed to the democratic principles and principles of continuity of governance and the need to build durable and independent institutions of  the state.