Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dismissed Interior Minister and other senior officials will soon be blamed for Solo Sandeng's death

Dismissed Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko
After months of stonewalling, Yaya Jammeh finally admitted in a Jeune Afrique interview that Solo Sandeng, the UDP youth leader, died in the custody of the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) - a story vehemently denied as it was being first reported here less than 48 hours after Mr. Sandeng was arrested while demonstrating for reform of the country's draconian electoral laws.

In response to the international community's demands for an investigation of the youth leader's death, Jammeh was quoted wondering why investigate when only one person was killed and therefore doesn't "see the point."  After all, he continued, "people die in custody or during interrogation; it's really normal."

It was not until the threats of additional sanctions that included the possibility of travel bans on senior officials of the regime that Jammeh started singing a different tune.

The European Union's suspension of disbursement of development assistance which took effect several months earlier as punishment for the regime's human rights began to take immediate toll on Gambia's public finances because the EU is Gambia's single biggest aid partner.

Faced with a rapidly dwindling options available to one of Africa's most reviled and isolated regime, the Gambian dictator is looking for ways of responding to its diplomatic isolation and its dwindling financial reserves and a public treasury that it all but empty.  Admitting that Solo Sandeng died in the custody of the NIA - although, he's still refusing to say that the death was due to wounds inflicted while being tortured - is the necessary first step to fulfilling the demands of the international community.

The next step in owning up and taking responsibility for the death is to  name those directly responsible and that is what Jammeh is in the process of doing.  He has reportedly fired Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko, his long-serving and one of the most trusted ministers who has been accused of being responsible, directly or indirectly, for the murder and disappearances of many of Jammeh's opponents.

Sources close to the Gambian dictator said he is preparing the ground to dismiss and/or jail other senior officials, namely the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Managing Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, the Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko and Sheikh Omar Jeng, NIA's Director of Operations all of whom are being blamed for their role that led to the death in custody of Solo Sandeng.