The New York-based chapter of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) on Wednesday condemned the celebration of the 14th anniversary of the 1994 coup that brought President Yahaya Jammeh to power.
A communiqué of the party’s external wing signed by Saihou Mballow said: “Gambians, the international community and all democratic and human rights organizations worldwide are hereby called upon to condemn the government in the strongest terms for celebrating the 22 July 1994 coup d’état.”
It said for UDP members, the day was nothing but “a dark historic occasion every year”.
“For the majority of Gambians, who over the years have painfully learnt the bitter experience of this violent and illegal change, celebrating this occasion is not only a waste of their tax revenue but also a cruel reminder of the period of illegal arrests, detentions, torture, unfair trials and a general insecurity of life and property,” the statement added.
Jammeh, a former soldier in the Gambia Armed Forces, deposed the then People’s Progressive Party (PPP) led by Sir Dawda Jawara on 22 July, 1994 in a bloodless military coup.
In 1996 Jammeh resigned from the army after leading a transition military government and contested a multi-party election which he won.
He has since won all elections conducted in the West African nation.
To his supporters and loyalists, Jammeh is a great pan-African leader who launch ed a “revolution” in the Gambia.
For his critics and opponents, however, Jammeh represents another African dictator on the continent whose regime is marked by poor human rights and bad government records.