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» 25.02.2011 - Ghaddafi row in The Gambia
» 11.11.2010 - Gambia coup "only matter of time"
» 27.09.2010 - Gambia Dictator "lied about Obama award"
» 15.07.2010 - Gambian "coup plotters" sentenced to death
» 11.06.2010 - Gambia dictator collecting titles
» 04.03.2010 - Six security officials sacked
» 16.02.2010 - Gambia expels UNICEF envoy
» 19.11.2009 - Gambian president withdraws from Commonwealth meeting

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Gambian President laughs at opponents

afrol News, 29 January - President Yahya Jammeh could not swallow his joy over unseating what he called "two empty barrels" from the national assembly during last Thursday's legislative polls in The Gambia. In a joyous mood, Mr Jammeh described the development as "good riddance."

"I'm happy that voters have thrown out the two empty barrels from the national assembly," President Jammeh told the state broadcaster, 'GRTS'. The Gambian President had failed to name the two opposition members but many believed his laughter was directed to Halifa Sallah and Hamat Bah, who had throughout bent on holding his government to task during their tenure of office.

Given the fact that the two are missing in parliament, Mr Jammeh is obviously at ease. He accused the two former parliamentarians of being at the "pay of a foreign country", which was why they were engaged in "useless intellectualism".

President Jammeh might be happy but in the absence of a vibrant opposition, the Gambian national assembly would only continue to serve as a rubberstamping institution.

Before throwing out a massive victory party for his supporters on Saturday, President Jammeh said, "constituencies that voted the opposition should not expect my government's development projects. I want to teach people that opposition in Africa does not pay."

Mr Jammeh's ruling Alliance for Patriotic, Reconciliation and Construction (APRC) party had campaigned vigorously to clinch all the seats. That aim has not been achieved because six of the parliamentary seats had escaped to opposition and independent MPs.

Halifa Sallah, who ranked third in the September Presidential elections, blamed a split in the opposition as the cause of their poor performance. After losing his seat, the political scientist cum sociologist said he would quit politics and devote time to write. His party won a single seat in parliament.

In the opinion of a fiery opposition politician and arch-critic of The Gambia government's policies, President Jammeh has now passed the democracy test and should not therefore be called a dictator. After all he has "subjected himself to the will of the people in a free and fair election."

"My initial position on Jammeh as a dictator has changed because you can no longer call him a dictator," Lamin Waa Juwara told the exiled 'Freedom' newspaper, adding, "he has the mandate of the people. Call a spade a spade because a victory on his case cannot be attributed to any rigging, intimidation or any possible inducement. This is the beginning of a democratic process and the next step should be good governance."

But the leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party, Ousainou Darboe, said the polls were marred by intimidations and harassment of opposition candidates. The human rights lawyer's party won only four out of the 48 seats. He had lodged a complaint against the police and court for refusing to grant bail to his party's candidate and supporters 48 hours before the elections.

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