The Gambia’s exiles to return home after Jammeh’s defeat
From Senegal to Italy, The Gambians who fled President Yahya Jammeh’s brutal rule are now hoping to return, freed of the fear of one of Africa’s notorious dictators after his defeat.
One of them, Fatty Ousman, stayed up all night in Italy to watch results of The Gambia’s presidential election.
A Gambian court had freed a prominent lawyer and 18 other political prisoners on bail on Monday pending an appeal of their jail term for “unlawful assembly,” in a sign that President Yahya Jammeh’s shock election defeat last week could end years of repression.
Ousainou Darboe along with other senior members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) had been jailed for three years in July for taking part in a small protest near the capital, Banjul.
President-elect, Adama Barrow, 51, became the leader of the UDP, the country’s largest opposition party, in September. He succeeded Darboe after he was jailed following rallies calling for electoral reform.
“We have a new The Gambia today. There will be freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and people will be free to practice any religion they want. The Gambians have been tolerant for 22 years. Yahya Jammeh, it’s clear to him today that the power belongs to the people,” said Darboe’s wife Mymuna.
The United States and the United Nations have called for all political prisoners in Gambia to be freed. Barrow has said he will free political prisoners.