Former President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has vehemently rejected rape allegations against him by a former beauty queen, with a statement from his party saying the accusations are part of a smear campaign “aimed at tarnishing the good reputation of Gambia’s legendary and visionary leader.”
According to The New York Times, Mr Jammeh who led a brutal regime in Gambia for 22 years, was accused by Fatou Jallow, whom he crowned as beauty queen, of raping her five years ago after she turned down his marriage proposal. She was 18 at the time.
But his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said in a statement emailed to The New York Times that, “The APRC, as a Party, and the Gambian people are tired of the steady stream of unfounded allegations that have been reported against our ex-President.”
The statement from the president’s party, by the deputy party leader, Ousman Rambo Jatta, came in response to an article in The New York Times last week in which Ms. Jallow came forward publicly for the first time to accuse the president of rape.
The statement said that Ms. Jallow’s account contained “no iota of truth,” and claimed that the accusations were orchestrated by Western corporations. It noted that Mr. Jammeh is still the party’s leader. world,” and noted that he had enacted laws to abolish the practice of female genital mutilation.
Fatou “Toufah” Jallow’s testimony is part of a Human Rights Watch and Trial International report that details another alleged rape and sexual assault by Mr Jammeh, 54.
Ms Jallow said she was 18 when she met Mr Jammeh after winning a beauty pageant in 2014 in the capital, Banjul.
In the months following her coronation, she said the former president acted as a father figure when they met, offering her advice, gifts and money, and also organising for running water to be installed in her family home.
Then at a dinner organised by an aide to the president, she says he asked her to marry him. She refused and rebuffed other enticements from the aide to agree to the offer.
Ms Jallow said the aide then insisted she attend a religious ceremony at State House in her role as beauty queen in June 2015. But when she arrived, she was taken to the president’s private residence.
“It was clear what this was going to be,” she said, describing Mr Jammeh’s anger at her for rejecting him.
Ms Jallow says he slapped her and injected her in her arm with a needle.
“He rubbed his genitals in my face, pushed me down to my knees, pulled my dress up and sodomised me.”
Ms Jallow told journalists that she wanted to meet Mr Jammeh in court so he could face justice.
“I’ve really tried to hide the story and erase it and make sure it’s not part of me. Realistically I couldn’t so I decided to speak now because it is time to tell the story and to make sure that Yayha Jammeh hears what he has done.”
She said she also wanted to testify before The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which has been set up by President Adama Barrow, who won elections in December 2016.
The TTRC is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh’s 22-year rule, including reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
He was forced from office in January 2017 after regional powers sent in troops when he refused to give up power.