interviewBy Omar Wally
The president-elect of The Gambia, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh has said that a good leader should stay in power for as long as God allows. The Gambian leader was speaking in a BBC Focus on Africa Programme aired yesterday at 1500 and 1700 hrs GMT, during which he spoke on wide range of issues from human rights, press freedom and the recently held presidential election which he won with an impressive percentage. The interview was conducted by BBC's Umaru Fofana few days after the November 24th Presidential Election.
Below is the excerpt of the interview as aired by BBC:
BBC: Are you bothered by the criticism over human rights?
President Jammeh: I don't think any African head of state will violate the rights of the people so blatantly and be loved by the 98 percent of the people. The election has shown that.
BBC: Could that be out of fear or something?
President Jammeh: My position is very clear. I will defend Africans even on Mass- planet mass. I will defend and I will never bow down before any human being except the Almighty Allah. And if they don't like that they can go to hell; I don't care what they say. I told you what I said is that I fear only Allah, God will judge me tomorrow. Those who accused me of human rights violations, Allah will judge between me and them. But remember even Allah has his detractors for one reason or the other.
But as far as am concerned nothing will change, nothing has changed. Let me tell you one thing, there are so many people that have been sentenced to death, nobody has been ever executed. Do you think am afraid of executing them? No! that is what the law is saying. So if I don't execute people that have been condemned to death by law, you think I want to earn one way ticket to hell by killing people that have never been tried by any court of law. I am a Muslim, in Allah I put my faith, in Allah I trust and only Allah I fear, the rest they can go to hell, they can go to hell.
BBC: May be the reason you have not killed those who have been condemned to death could be somebody you may argue that is because they are out of your view and those who are free want to express their freedom of expression. Therefore they accused you of not giving them the chance to do so particularly the media.
President Jammeh: The media! why should I kill the media or any member of the media? When I took over the country, find out how many newspapers were in this country and how many radio stations. Now if I do something wrong and they write they are entitled to that. If I don't want them to write I should not do something wrong . You are free to write whatever the president has done wrong or good. But remember if you accused me of doing something wrong, I will take you to court for you to prove. There are freedoms; there are responsibilities.
BBC: Do you feel sorry, for example for the family of the late journalist Deyda Hydara?
President Jammeh: Listen to me! Is he the only one who died in this country?
BBC: But he died, he was a journalist and the circumstances leading to his death are still not yet known, do you feel sorry for him?
President Jammeh: Is he better than other Gambians? The Gambian farmer who dies; is he better than Gambians who die in accident, Gambians who die at sea, Gambians who die on their way back way to Europe.
BBC: But Gambians who died by road or by sea for example is as much unfortunate. But it couldn't be as serious as somebody who was killed like Deyda Hydara was.
President Jammeh: Well other people also have been killed in this country so why Deyda Hydara so special. And let me tell you one thing, they still have not told me what Deyda was doing that if they knew I would kill him. So if he was doing that bad you expect me to sympathise him? Hell no!
BBC: What do you think about the faith of Colonel Gaddafi- the manner in which he ended as president of Libya; obviously you were closed with Gaddafi's Libya?
President Jammeh: Yes I was very close to Gaddafi and I was very far away from him towards the end. If anybody thinks that they can use that to threaten anybody they are making a great mistake.
BBC: What do you mean by that Sir?
President Jammeh: Allah decided all of us, the way you go Allah has decided so I don't care. So you think oh! look what is going on in Egypt, what is going on in anywhere . Am doing well for my people and my faith is in the Almighty Allah.
BBC: So you don't feel shaken by it at all? Gaddafi said the same thing that he was doing well, Libyans love him. But you see what happened, probably he stayed in power for very long. You don't feel in any way that Gaddafi's end is a lesson for African leaders.
President Jammeh: How long you stay in power does not determine your faith, is what you do that determines your faith as far as I am concerned. But let me tell you one thing my faith is in the hands of Almighty; I will deliver to The Gambian people and if I have to rule this country for one billion years I will if Allah says so.