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United Democratic Party’s Response to the Statement of the Defence Minister on the Victims of Former President Yahya Jammeh’s Dictatorship

H. E Ousainou ANM Darboe SG & Party Leader UDP

7th April 2021

The United Democratic Party condemns in the strongest terms the reprehensible remarks of the Defence Minister, Mr Omar Bun Faye, made in a recent online media interview on the “For the People By the People show hosted by the Fatou Network.

In his response to a question regarding the way forward for the Victims who suffered under the Jammeh regime, the Defence Minister urged the many victims of the Jammeh 22 years’ brutal rule of The Gambia to simply “suck it in and move on”, with their pains, traumas, debilitations, and losses of loved ones, etc“ and stop crying over a spilt milk”.

These remarks are insensitive and disrespectful to the many victims and their families under the Jammeh rule and to the Gambians at large. The Defence Minister’s remarks show no commiseration for the pains and agonies of the victims, who have suffered tremendously from the very government of Yahya Jammeh; that he happily served for many years at various senior government positions and now as Defence Minister under the current government.

His remarks further demonstrate and strengthens the concerns and fears of many victims and their families that the current government of President Adama Barrow lacks empathy for their plight and their quest of justice. These fears and concerns are further compounded by the follow up official reaction of his Ministry of Defence, which appallingly aimed to exonerate him, the Minister, from his reprehensible and indefensible remarks against the many victims and their families of the Jammeh rule, instead of offering them the apology deserved.

It is further shocking that the government of the day, with its many government spokespersons, remained muted about these insensitive remarks of their Minister and views the same with apathy. It has not taken any decisive steps to reassure the many victims and their families and to Gambians at large of the Jammeh regime that the remarks of the Defence Minister does not represent the position of the government and that the government is still committed to delivering justice for the many victims of the Jammeh regime.

The UDP expects a responsible government to reprimand such comments of a member of cabinet publicly leaving no doubts as to its position in this situation. A responsible government would distance itself from the same and compel the said Minister to apologise profoundly to all the victims of the Jammeh maladministration, and their families or forced him to resign or removed him from cabinet if he fails to apologise for his callous remarks.

It is worth noting that the remarks of the Defence Minister have profound consequences on the victims of the Jammeh regime, and their plights continue to be the subject of the transitional justice process assigned to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC).

We thus urge the government of President Adama Barrow to act responsibly as a responsible government and do the needful to reassure and convince the victims of the Jammeh regime and their families that they are committed to ensuring justice for them and for all Gambians.

Ousainou ANM Darboe
Secretary General and Party Leader
United Democratic Party

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