The Independent (Banjul)

30 January 2001

Gambia: Attorney General Sacked

Banjul — The Attorney General and secretary of state for Justice, Pap Cheyassin Secka has been dismissed. His sacking was effective Tuesday, January 30.

Mr. Secka was appointed to the post in March 2000, replacing Fatou Bom-Bensouda as the sixth Attorney General since the change of government in 1994. As usual, no reason has been given for the removal.

Mr. Secka's tenure of office has been dogged by several controversial decisions including the unpopular decision by the government to propose several changes to the 1997 constitution, which would give added powers to President Jammeh and the rejection late last week of the reports of the commission of inquiry and coroner's inquest into the April 2000 student demonstrations.

Mr. Secka has been replaced by Joseph Henry Joof, who until his appointment was a private legal practitioner and president of the Gambia Bar Association. Mr. Joof was also a member of the commission of inquiry into the April student demonstrations whose report was rejected by the government last Friday.

Pap Cheyassin Secka was leader of the now inactive National Liberation Party. As NLP leader, he contested the parliamentary seat for Sabach Sanjal constituency in the 1977 general elections but lost. In the same year, following the death of Banjul Central constituency MP JR Forster, Mr. Secka contested the vacant seat in a by-election but again lost.

Following the 1981 abortive coup, Mr. Secka was accused of treason and sent to death. This was later commuted to life imprisonment. After serving 10 years, he benefited from a government amnesty and returned to private legal practice until his appointment as Justice secretary in March 2000.

In a related development, it has been confirmed that Dr. Saja Taal, Administrative Secretary of the ruling APRC, has also been sacked. No reason was given for his removal late last week.

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