Adama Barrow, Gambia’s new president, on Saturday announced plans to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed in the 22-year regime of his sit-tight predecessor- Yahya Jammeh with the launch of a truth and reconciliation commission.
It is about the truth and facts, rather than just prosecution, he told The Associated Press in an interview just hours after Jammeh finally agreed to go on political exile to Guinea, saying it is too soon to tell whether the former president could face trial at the International Criminal Court or elsewhere.
In a midnight broadcast on state television after weeks of negotiation, Jammeh pledged to make way for Barrow who beat him in last month’s elections. Although he initially accepted defeat, Jammeh later rejected the election result and declared a national state of emergency in an attempt to cling to power.
According to Barrow, 51, “we aren’t talking about prosecution here. We are talking about getting a truth and reconciliation commission,” he said. “Before you can act, you have to get the truth, to get the facts together.
“What is fundamental here is he will live in a foreign country as of now,” said Barrow, visibly tired and wearing a powder blue traditional West African boubou robe and white leather slip-on shoes,” he added.
The new Gambia president, the third in the history and first to emerge through a democratic process, assured his people of “a new start” for Gambia, just as he promised to expand the country’s democratic gains.
Although officially elected to a five-year term, Barrow, a former businessman and real estate developer, was sworn into office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, promised to serve only three years with a goal of repairing Gambia’s democracy before making the way for new leadership.
Barrow also has said he would prioritize reviving the stagnant economy of the tiny West African country, which has a population of 1.9 million. He also said he would improve Gambia’s relationships with the international community, rejoin the Commonwealth of former British-ruled states and the International Criminal Court.