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‘Relieve those implicated in violations,’ Kassama makes an emotional plea


Captain Momodou Kassama broke into tears before the Truth Commission on Thursday as he explained how his colleagues, “good soldiers”, lost their lives after the coup. “We should be categorical,… we should not even sanitize it. Some very good soldiers lost their lives,” he said in opposition to views that the coup makers had good intentions, crying.

Momodou Kassama, an aide de camp to former president Dawda Kairaba Jawara, has made an emotional plea for Government to relieve people manning key positions who were involved in human rights violations of the pass two-decade.

Gambia suffered 22 years of brutal dictatorship during which several people were killed and tortured, reportedly on orders of Yahya Jammeh.

“Those people who are in position in the current government, having meted this kind of torture, and to see them still serving— to me that is not going to ensure reconciliation. We want to forgive… They still maintain position in Government, to me that is wrong. To me we do not have to wait for the completion of this Commission. At the bare minimum, we are saying relieve them, especially within the army itself,” said Kassama.

Kassama was an ADC to Jawara from1990 to 1994 when he was overthrown by Jammeh in what is now known to be a bloody coup.

He is the eighteenth witness before the Truth Commission investigating the human rights violations of Jammeh.

Planned coup

Kassama accused the former vice president and defense minister at the time of the coup, Saikou Sabally, for the coup. He said Sabally actively played a role in the coup.

He also did not trust the former American ambassador to the Gambia, Andrew Winter, whom he said was also involved.

Following the coup, Kassama explained several efforts by Jawara meant to return the country to democracy. He narrated their various visits to Nigeria, Ghana and United Nations, among others, to mobilise international support against the military leaders.

He nevertheless said Jawara had no intention to stay in power beyond 1992, adding that it was Jawara’s expressed intention to leave that created the whole power struggle.

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