Nyimasata says executions are lawful
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Veteran politician and Gambia’s first elected female Member of Parliament, who is no strange personality in the country’s political circle, have added her voice to the chorus of sentiments expressed in solidarity with the Gambia government, in the wake of the August 26 executions of nine death row inmates, calling the move constitutional.
Sanneh-Bojang, who came into prominence in the country’s political scene in
1982 after being elected Member of Parliament for Kombo North under the ticket
of the governing party, the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP), was speaking
Monday afternoon during an exclusive interview granted to the Daily Observer.
It would be recalled that the Ministry of the Interior, on August 27th, announced the execution of nine death row inmates carried on Sunday August 26th, 2012, following their conviction and pronouncements of death sentences by the Gambian courts of “competent jurisdiction” and further to the exhaustion of their appeals. Since that move, a lot of Gambians have been showing solidarity with the government on this issue through their local government authorities, as well as asking for clemency.
But in the words of Nyimasata Sanneh-Bojang, who has broken silence on the issue through this interview, Gambians should be saluted for their high sense of solidarity as evidenced by the regional delegations across the country that made it to the seat of the government to dialogue with the authorities at the highest level.
former Health, Social Welfare and Women’s Affairs minister during the
Transition, emphatically stated that those executed were “killed by the
constitution and not President Jammeh.” She pointed out that Gambians are
killed in other countries, but was quick to assert that there was never a time
that she remembers the citizens making it as an issue due to what she called
their belief in God that everything that happens is destiny.
such issues with our diplomatic channels to settle. The Gambia does not
interfere with the laws of other countries. Though we are very small, but we
are an independent country and a Republic with a constitution and institutions.
I can remember that all the constitutions that we ever had, have death penalty.
There was not a given time when Gambians come together to discuss about the
constitution and say we want to take out the death penalty.
What I want to
assert is that the whole country made the constitution through a referendum.
Prior to that, Gambians were well sensitised about the constitution, which was
translated into most of the local languages for understanding, thus giving
chance to the people to debate on it. But there was no resistance from any
corner that we should remove the death penalty,” Sanneh, who was also nominated
into the National Assembly by the governing Alliance for Patriotic
Reorientation and Construction party, after the 2002 National Assembly
“What President Jammeh is doing,” she told the Daily Observer, “is to safeguard the lives of Gambians and non Gambians alike who reside in the country.” She affirmed that those executed were found guilty, given the chance to appeal, but noted that the law still found them guilty and that the constitution says they should be killed. She stressed the need for people to stop blaming President Jammeh as it is the law that killed them and not him.
“If somebody is killed by someone else, Gambians are God fearing enough and law abiding that they don’t retaliate, but leave the law to takes its course, and whatever it decides, it is taken whole heartedly. There was no time that the law while taking its course, relatives of the victim took the law into their hands,” she said.
The former lawmaker also lashes out at the Western critics, calling them to respect Gambia’s sovereignty and its laws. She told them that the country has been a peaceful country from time immemorial, and has endured a lot of challenges during and after the end of colonialism. She hastened to expose the colonial hardships meted out on Gambians during those days despite citizens being patient with the imperialists.
colonized by the Great Britain for 400 years – the British had done everything
in the country – they enslaved us, took our ancestors and tied them together,
put them in a voyage and turned into slaves outside of their country; and yet
our people were tolerant and patient. That did not trigger any uprisings
because we belief in God and fear Him. These were very hard times and Gambians
had to struggle through the agriculture to feed themselves, but yet with all
that, anything we are asked to do, we do it with the best of our abilities.
can give an example; our Gambian brothers that were taken to Burma for the war
did excellent. Even though we were underdeveloped during the colonial era, we
were very loyal and obedient to the colonialists. Then came the First Republic,
and with very little assistance from the international community, we were very
patient and had to go through more than 30 years of that regime with little
progress and development. Even the 1981 abortive coup, it was mostly the
uniform men that took up arms and there were few civilians, whilst the rest of
the citizens were in their compounds praying for peace.
Nyimasata Sanneh-Bojang concluded by asserting that Gambians are behind President Jammeh and his government along the way, saying they will remain resolute in the cause of defending the country.
Author: Hatab Fadera