Vice President Abubacarr N.M. Ousainou Darboe yesterday appeared before the
Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise
in the opening of its 5th Session.
The Ex-Vice President who is also the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP). He was born in 1948 and attended Bansang Primary School, proceeded to St Augustine Secondary School, then to Gambia High School and then to Nigeria where he studied law and upon his return, worked at the Attorney General’s Chambers; a job he was at for seven years and then went into private practice in 1980. He testified that he represented suspects in the treason trial of the 1981 abortive coup led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang.
Hon. Darboe further testified that on July 22nd 1994, he was in his office and could not believe that there was a coup, having studied in Nigeria where military rule reigned supreme and knowing how the military behaved.
He further testified that he had to change his place of abode and went into hiding after he had the inkling that the soldiers were after him.
He also testified that he was the vice-president of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA) at the time and the GBA reaction was that they asked the junta to return constitutional government.
He revealed that the junta did not appreciate the GBA position because the GBA was on the side of the law whilst the junta was on the side of power.
Darboe explained that the junta assaulted the constitution and as a result the GBA members did not attend the legal year so that they would not be seen to be rubbing shoulders with the military who had overthrown the constitution of the country.
The witness told the Commission of his encounter with Dawda Jobe, brother of late Baba Jobe and his group who attempted to abduct him at Bundung.
The witness also told the Commission the visit of the Gambia Bar Association to the junta at the State House and they reiterated their position on their desirability to return the country to constitutional government.
He mentioned that during the meeting, Edward Singhateh spoke but Yahya Jammeh then chairman of the AFPRC told him that he was running from people.
The witness told the Commission that it was after the meeting that Fafa M’bai was appointed as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Hon. Darboe disclosed that he wasn’t aware of the October 1995 demonstration by supporters of PPP government, but noted that he was called by Daba Marena to report at Bakau Police Station but had refused and he responded that if he had done something wrong they could come and arrest him.
Hon. Darboe stated that Daba Marena asked Lamin Jobarteh to prevail on him to report and he subsequently went to report and he was interrogated as to why M.C. Cham, former minister in the Jawara government had come to his office to use his telephone to make calls to Ex-President Sir Dawda K. Jawara.
Darboe told the Commission that he questioned them if there was any criminality for allowing M.C. Cham to call Ex-President Jawara. After the interrogation, he was taken to Bakau Depot where he met over 60 detained PPP supporters like Housainou Njai, M.C. Cham, Ishmaila Jawara and a host of others who were alleged to have been involved in a demonstration.
The witness revealed that whilst under custody, he had a bitter encounter with Alagie Kanyi who was taunting him by uttering statements meant to provoke him.
Hon. Darboe also revealed the bitter experiences of some of the detainees like Uncle Riaf Diab, M.C. Cham, Ismaila Jawara suffered whilst there.
He described the condition of the detention center as very squalid and sordid, noting that he was infested during his detention because of the terrible nature of the facility.
The witness said he was kept there for 24 days and was never taken to any court of law but noted that his co-detainees were released after the presidential election but before the National Assembly elections.
Hon. Darboe posited that these detainees release was set as part of the UDP conditions for participation in the National Assembly elections.
Formation of UDP and its first rally
Ex-vice president Ousainou Darboe testified that members of other political parties came together and formed the United Democratic Party (UDP) to challenge Yahya Jammeh’s APRC party and it was whilst he was in the United States of America that he was called to lead the UDP.
The former vice president told the Commission of how he met a bearded man at Jarra-Soma who asked him not to betray their confidence, urging him to stand as the flag-bearer of UDP.
Hon. Darboe said the bearded man repeated the statement three times and tears began rolling down his cheeks.
Darboe told the Commission that the launching of the 1st UDP rally was planned to take place in Brikama but was postponed because of security reasons and it was then held at Fitzgerald Street in Banjul.
Darboe disclosed that during that meeting, he lambasted the AFPRC/ APRC government about the missing (3) three million dollars alleged to have stolen by Captain Ebou Jallow, the junta spokesperson and the mysterious death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, Finance Minister in the junta government which eventually was meant with a protest from Edward Singhateh to the PIEC.
Hon. Darboe told the Commission that Yankuba Touray, then Minister for Local government and lands and the APRC mobiliser had threatened that he would be burnt after his return from his political tour of the provinces.
He further told the Commission that the APRC created numerous problems for the UDP, citing several harassment machinated against the UDP supporters.
He mentioned the ordeal of Siaka Sonko and Saney Sabally in Farafenni, the arrest and detention of Kemesseng Jammeh and the assault and brutalization of UDP supporters in Essau by APRC supporters as tactics to silence the party.
He further stated that on the 22nd September, 1996 his group was attacked and even pregnant women were manhandled, noting that women wearing UDP T-Shirts had their shirts torn and left naked.
The former Vice-President said one Fa Bajo Darboe, a drummer who was among the human rights and Democracy vehicle was ambushed at Denton Bridge.
He pointed out that he was the principal target of the Denton Bridge attack where Yankuba Touray and Edward Singhateh participated in the torture of the UDP supporters.
Darboe said he petitioned the government to set up an inquiry to investigate the 22nd September, 1996 Denton Bridge ambush but fell on deaf ears.
Darboe pointed out that some UDP supporters died as a result of the brutalization and maltreatment, citing the death of Kebuteh Jaffuneh.
Darboe disclosed that the UDP campaign came to an end after the September 22nd 1996 ambush.
The UDP leader told the Commission that prior to organising the West Coast Region 1st UDP congress, Shyngle Nyassi, Dembo Ara Sanneh, Bolong Sonko,Wassa Janneh, Sarjo Kunjan Sanneh were arrested by NIA officials and brutalized by Yahya Jammeh agents like Daba Marena, Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, Pierre Mendy but lamented that Sarjo Kunja Sanneh died.
The UDP leader said he invited Zoe Tembo, international Human Right activist who had audience with Sarjo Kunjan Sanneh to see the torture and injuries inflicted on her.