Gambia: Victims' Centre Calls for Defence Minister's Resignation

Sheriff Kijera, the chairman of the Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violation has strongly condemned the comments made by Sheikh Omar Faye, the country's minister of Defence and called for his immediate resignation.

The Defence minister during his interview over the weekend with a Gambian online forum called 'For the People and by the People Show' aired on Facebook live streaming, said the victims "should just suck it up and move on". However, this remark did generate a public outcry and Gambians within and outside the country are calling for his resignation.

Kijera added: "I want to tell you that we strongly condemned the comments made by the Defence Minister in the strongest possible terms. Such a statement shouldn't come from a state minister. In fact, we are coming with a statement with regard to the minister's comments."

Responding to a question during the interview, the former Gambian ambassador to the U.S. and now the country's defence minister, added: "Excellent. I enjoyed my tenure in Washington DC, and I am sure I have chased you on several times out of that Embassy of, of 2233 Wisconsin Avenue. So, somebody has to do the job, let us suck it up, let us understand we made mistakes, let us stop crying over spilled milk, let us look for ways out, let us move on.'

"This is my philosophy today. That is why we brought in the National Security Policy of this country because we never had one maybe that also contributed to the blatant mistakes, abuses and so on. This is the National Security Policy for the first time in our country with all the noise that has been going on, we never had one."

However, the Ministry of Defence yesterday issued a statement, saying comments made by the Minister Sheikh Omar Faye on Sunday during the interview on 'The For The People By The People Show' were distorted.

The ministry said: "The attention of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was drawn to several social media comments about the remarks made by the Honourable Minister of Defence (Hon MOD), Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye on the "For the People By the People" Show on the online platform of the Fatu Network on Sunday 4 April 2021. Among other issues discussed on this very important platform was the plight of the Victims of the 22 years of the Jammeh regime in The Gambia."

"The MOD wishes to state that the Honourable Minister's remarks were distorted by unscrupulous persons with the intention of maligning and discrediting Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye and the efforts of the MOD in the reconciliation process."

"It is the expressed view of the MOD that the victims of the former President Jammeh's regime cut across all sectors of Gambian society and include several members of the Gambia Armed Forces, an institution that is directly under the purview of the Honourable Minister of Defence. The MOD cherishes the role it is currently playing in the healing process in the country as it believes in being part of the solution to a healing and reconciling nation."

Meanwhile, Baba Hydara, the son of the late proprietor of The Point Newspaper, DaydaHyadara, said: "I find it extremely serious hearing a minister from this new regime telling victims to 'suck it up' and move on after all the atrocities committed by the same regime he represented in various functions and publicly undermining all the work the TRRC has done."

"I personally think he should tender his resignation immediately and also apologise to the victims."

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