By Fatou Dahaba
It was on January 1997 when he was arrested and detained for about two months with no clue of why he was detained but what is surprising is that while incommunicado he still remains the choice of the people of Jarra West. Kemeseng Jammeh a veteran politician told Daily news in an exclusive about his political career.
Jammeh said soon after the formation of United Democratic Party (UDP) the party went on a nationwide tour, holding a mass rally at Jarra Soma. The veteran politician told the Daily news that as a founding member (UDP) as he was formerly of the National Convention Party (NCP), the new party began a tour starting from Barra and then to Farafenni, where the UDP had another successful rally. However Jammeh said he had to stay behind as the tour continues to the Kaur end because there was a schedule meeting in Japenneh village which he had to attend.
The politician described the APRC/AFPRC regime under the leadership of former President Jammeh to be very brutal. He said the tour frightens them and the soldiers started to arrests as means of scaring the UDP militants .
Whiles he was preparing for the Japenneh meeting he was invited at the Soma police station and was never told what his crime was, and that same afternoon he was transferred to Jangjanbureh prisons where he spent two months.
At Janjanbureh prison, he said he found another UDP strong man , Lamin called Waa Juwara who was in incommunicado detention, whose captives (military) keep transferring him from cell to cell and no one knows where he was until when he met him there.
Other people he found at the Janjabureh prison was Sainey Sabally and Siaka Sonko. Sabally was the regional Chairperson of the UDP at the time; whiles Sonko was the head of the party’s security wing. These positions of them must have prompted their arrest.
Asked what happen after that two months detention; Jammeh said while in detention on the whole the people of Jarra West, went to kombo and asked his party leader lawyer Darboe to ask if he was eligible for the position of a National Assembly membership, and Darboe assured them that he (Jammeh) was detained but not yet convicted so he can contest for the elections.
Narrating how he became a candidate for elections, he said, the three of them were soon arrange before a court of law. This was on Thursday and Sunday someone came to the Farafenni police station where he was detained with his nomination forms.
At the station this man came with his nomination papers from Banjul sent by Darboe, the papers were smuggled in his cells; where he( Kemeseng) filled this nomination papers and the following Monday was nomination day.
At the surprise of the soldiers, Jammeh said his nomination was announced at 6 o’ clock and his candidature was declare while he was still in detention at the Farafenni police station. Asked if this why he is called Nelson Mandela; and he answered in the positive. His nomination set him free. Lawyer Darboe and other militants made a lot of noise for his acquittal from what he described unlawful detention..
Then Darboe and others created lot of noise that he must come out because he is legally qualify to contest or otherwise no election and they were later acquitted.
Hon Jammeh said when he was acquitted he received a call from Sainey Sabally who ask him to meet him, Sainey informed me that his nomination has created a lot of problem for the police officers at Farafenni station. The soldiers asked lots of question as why he was able to filled his nomination forms; as a results many officers were transferred and others threaten to be fired.
Asked what legacy has he left as a member of the National Assembly, Hon Kemeseng said he noticed that after the coup the soldiers were not better than the PPP regime they toppled. He said Junta was more corrupt than what they painted themselves. He said it did not take long to unveil the Crude oil saga.
The Nigerian government gave crude oil to Gambia government to sell and get something out of it to held the country’s development agendas; unfortunately they the soldiers were pocketing the lion share of that crude oil.According to him former President Jammeh and his people continued the same deals and he laid his hands on documentary evidence to substantiate his claims.
Kemeseng called for the commissioning of another commission of inquiry for Jammeh and his people because they also did similar things that he accused the PPP for. A Bill was prepared for him with all the supporting documents to substantiate their corruption and set an investigation for Jammeh like he did to Jawara.
As a member of the National Assembly, he also challenged the indemnity laws put in place by the Juntas. The law was to protect them.
Hon Jammeh said the Indemnity law was which is a degree, was that any act that the junta committed during their term in office cannot be challenged by any Court of law. However his private members Bill could not see the light of the day; because the APRC members who outnumbered us voted against the Bill.
Being an opposition for a long time the honorable member said he was approached by the junta that they want to work with him. “But I did not take a decision immediately, this was just to see whether they (Junta) will stick on their words that they came for only two years, and they will go back to the barracks. But interestingly the Juntas only ended up becoming politicians and they soldiers fail the people” Jammeh he ended refusing their proposal and remain as NCP.
Creation of UDP
The soldiers soon ban all but one political party, which party is the PDOIS. This simple these ban parties were the biggest as far as the population was concerned but there was a motive behind the move. Soon after the sanctions against political parties were lifted they continue their activities.
The former Gambian ambassador to Turkey further explained that the people that belong to those three prominent parties, then came together to chart a way forward because the soldiers have an ulterior motive, which is to clinch on power and they will do anything possible to achieve that objective.
The ban of these political parties culminates into them seeing a need to form a political party on a broad-based basis. The politicians, who were victimized, thought that they need to take a concrete action against the soldiers. This was how they agree on the principles to form a party and they agreed that the party should be headed by someone who has an understanding about the laws. The groups were of the opinion that a non-lawyer cannot lead such a opposition party. Because if not Jammeh said the soldiers can trample on the rights and a change would have being impossible.
When they came to the point of leadership, the founders started to brainstorm and the late Musa Darboe mentioned his nephew, who was lawyer Darboe. That is how Darboe was approached who later accepted to lead the party.
Jammeh said after the ban was lifted , the following parties: NCP, PPP and GPP were the ones that come together and form the UDP that made him another founding member of the second party after NCP.
Asked what price have the UDP pay to make to effect a change , Jammeh said the UDP’s sacrifice necessitated a lot of struggle, hardship and victimization that they pay dearly , noting that Solo Sandeng and co had their human rights trampled on for no crime other than exercising their constitutional rights.
Jammeh said they as a party (UDP) were manhandle and Solo was even killed as a result of the push for a chgange. When the UDP party leader knew about the death of Solo; he called for a press briefing where he reveal that Solo and others were brutalized and he was killed and his colleagues were wounded and maltreated , many of who were at the time in a very critical condition.
Arrest and detention of Darboe & Co
Draboe and his executive took to the streets and demand for Solo’s body after he already knew he was buried at a secret at Tanji, even though they knew it was not going to be possible to get the body but because they wanted to make it known to the world how brutal a desperate dictator (President Jammeh).
Barrow & Three Years
Jammeh explained that because of their peaceful demonstration led by Lawyer Darboe , demanding for the body of Solo Sandeng. The dictator came up with some trump up charges resulting to our unlawful imprisonment for nearly 9 months.
Asked what he make of President Barrow’s change of mind on the three years agreement, veteran politician Jammeh described Barrow greedy for power, and backed his argument by saying if he were not greedy for power he would have honored the three years agreement, and that would have made him a great man in the history of Gambian politics.
Diplomat and politician said Barrow is very greedy for power he could have been a very important person in the country but now he has destroy his future, and that of his children , if he comply with the three years that would have turn him into being a great person. President Barrow did cause a lot of damage for himself, and that he is now exposed as his failures are conspicuous.
There are all indications that he is not up to the job, he has no qualifications, no qualities neither a character to lead the country, Jammeh said circumstances has exposed Adama Barrow.
Diplomat cum politician Hon Jammeh scolded Barrow for deliberately choosing to work with former President Jammeh’s enablers and collaborators. Hon Jammeh pin pointed the Finance minister who he described as one of the principal enablers of former president Jammeh, is appointed to one of the most sensitive ministerial post.
When asked what is his take on the coming elections where it is expected that his party will take head on head with former UDP who now leads the NPP? Jammeh was quick to say the UDP will prevail over Barrow and his NPP, as the president has no solid base in the country unlike UDP, because the Kombos, LRR and NBR are all UDP strong bases and as for Barrow he has no base that’s why they are busy following the border areas trying to get foreigner votes and this indicated that they are not comfortable as far as Gambian voters are concerned.
On the issue of who pardon him and Co, Jammeh emphasized that the President never pardon them he said their matter was challenged in court because they were wrongfully imprisoned. He clarify that the matter was pending in court during former President Jammeh’s time and then election came prior to Barrow’s victory.
The hearing of the case was supposed to be on the 5th of December 2016 which coincided with elections and when they were released from prison after the resumption of the case. UDP’s Jammeh said then he president Barrow was not even sworn in, he was just president elect. So it’s not true to say it was President Barrow who pardon them.
Jammeh as Ambassador in Turkey
When the diplomat was asked what can he referred to as an achievement whiles he was Ambassador in Turkey? Strengthen the bilateral relationship of the two countries. He said he can say part of his efforts included the resumption of the supply of material to the country which includes uniform for security officers which stopped for about 5 years and also it was during his tenure that direct flight from Istanbul to Banjul took off.
During his time as an ambassador to turkey he said he try as much as possible to strengthen the bilateral relationship of the two countries part of his efforts includes supplying material to the country which includes uniform for security officer and shoes which was stop for about 5 years and also a direct flight from Istanbul to Banjul.
Kemeseng Jammeh was a teacher and serve as a qualified teacher from 1964 to 1971, he later change course to Local government work, where he became an Executive Officer Mansakonko Area Council in July 1971 where he serve for three years and later was transferred to Kuntaur Area Council where he serve for two years and then to moved Kanifing Urban District Council (KUDC) in 1974.