Feb 17, 2016, 10:25 AM
President Yahya Jammeh has placed a moratorium on the execution of the remaining prisoners on death row, following appeals from regional leaders, council of elders, women groups as well as youth groups, the presidency announced on Friday, a move welcomed by leaders of the opposition in the country.
The move comes barely three weeks after the government announced that nine prisoners on death row were executed by firing squad.
“The general public at home and abroad is hereby informed that President Yahya Jammeh has decided to put a moratorium on executions as a result of numerous appeals to that effect from council of elders, women groups as well as youth groups across the country,” a statement from the presidency read on GRTS said.
“It is hereby made clear that it is only a moratorium on executions and what happens next will be dictated by either declining violence crime rate in which case the moratorium will be indefinite or an increase in violent crime rate in which case the moratorium will be lifted automatically,” the statement added.
The statement further stated that in defending the constitution and upholding laws of The Gambia, no amount of bad mouthing or pressure can make the President shy away from upholding the oaths that he has sworn to as President of the Republic of The Gambia.
It enjoined the public to act by and within the laws at all times to ensure that the peace and tranquility The Gambia is renowned for is preserved.
“The Gambia is a sovereign nation guided by its constitution, the provisions of which shall be upheld to the letter and spirit without fear or favour, affection or ill will,” the statement added.
It reminded the general public that the security of the lives and property of individuals and communities living in The Gambia will not be compromised for whatever reason.
Reacting to the news, Hamat Bah, leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party, said it is good that the President has suspended the executions.
“This goes to show that when you are a leader, although you have the power and mandate but you also need to listen to people. The crisis we found ourselves in could have been avoided,” he told The Point.
“When the President mentioned his plans during the Koriteh day, we advised him not to go ahead with it. Yes, everybody knows there have been too much of killing, but killing killers does not stop killing; that is not the best way,” he added.
The killings, he went on, have damaged the image of this country particularly when it comes in terms of investment.
“The publicity Gambia received in the recent past has been very negative, and we should avoid that because we are a young developing country, and we need investors to create jobs for our youths,” he remarked.
Also reacting to Jammeh’s decision was Ousainou Darboe, leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party, who said the move was in line with the thinking of all concerned and peace-loving people.
“This is what should have happened since at the beginning,” Darboe told The Point, adding that the President should go further than just suspending.
“The President should go further to make sure that those convicted of murder and condemned to death have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment,” he said.
“Also, all those convicted of treason and sentenced to death should have an absolute pardon, because these are political offences,” Darboe added.
According to him, the country should also go further to review the criminal code which prescribes the offence of murder, and give the judges the discretion on the imposition of sentences.