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Former United States Deputy Ambassador to the Gambia Bruce Knotts is live on Freedom Radio—talking about the need for Gambians to unite and take the lead in liberating their country from dictator Yahya Jammeh eighteen years tyranny.  The former US envoy,  is now the  Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association at the United Nations Office. Mr. Knotts says Gambia’s freedom and future squarely lies on its citizens. He told Freedom Radio’s Pa Nderry M’Bai that Gambians should not rely too much on the United States for their own liberation from Africa’s erratic and De Facto leader Yahya Jammeh—a despot who often prides himself with the delusional claim of having cure for aids, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility, asthma, and other ailments. Ambassador Knotts said the time has come for Gambians to unite, and work together in dislodging Jammeh from power. He said the Gambian dictator reminds him about the former Kenyan President, who comes from a minority tribe, and had been using the divide and rule political card to divide Kenyans. He observes that Jammeh is employing the same political trick to tear the Gambian apart. Ambassador Knotts also talked about his expulsion from the Gambia as a US Diplomat, his strained relationship with Ambassador Macdonald, the growing culture of corruption in Jammeh’s regime, gross human rights violations, possible sanctions against Gambia provided that Senegal is willing to file a complaint against the Gambian dictator, among other topical issues.

Ambassador Knotts said Jammeh’s rule has been characterized by an eroding human rights crisis—with the dictator himself killing his own friends, and Gambians. He says Jammeh doesn’t value human rights, liberties,  and freedoms of Gambians. He is not convinced that the new ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda can be an impartial prosecutor to handle any future trial against Jammeh—given Madam Bensouda’s past affiliation with the dictator.

The Ambassador also said the US ignored Jammeh’s rights abuses during President Bush’s era. The reason was that the dictator was helping American to fight terrorism and he (Jammeh)  had been a benefactor of  America’s anti terrorism budget.

The Ambassador said there were occasions terror suspects were detained in the Gambia, and each time he wanted to protest against Jammeh’s power excesses and abuse, his boss the then Ambassador Macdonald will frustrate his efforts in trying to make his views known to the Jammeh regime. 

He said Macdonald was kind of manipulated by the regime; that he hardly communicate the true realities on the ground in the Gambia to Washington. He said dictator Jammeh personally conferred an award to Macdonald. “If Jammeh had conferred me with the award,  I will refuse it, because I don’t respect him as the leader of the Gambia. He doesn’t respect human rights,” Ambassador Knotts said.

Mr. Knotts said he was later kicked out of the Gambia, as Ambassador Macdonald could no longer work with him. His expulsion followed strained relationship Knotts had with the Gambian Government after repeated protests he made against the regime’s lack of respect for human rights.

Former Trade Minister Edward Singhatey personally threatened him when he confronted Singhatey about the continued detention of the late House Majority Baba Kajali Jobe without trial. Singhatey pointed his fingers at the US Diplomat while shouting at the top of his voice demanding to know why Knotts was meddling into Gambia’s internal political problems. “ It was really frightening. Singhatey intimidated me,” Knotts said. 

Two days after his meeting with Singhatey, Ambassador Knotts was expelled from the Gambia. Police also broke into his residence claiming that they were looking for Baba Jobe. The Embassy in turn protested to the Jammeh regime-expressing outrage at the conduct of the police. The full interview will be published in our next edition. Enjoy the audio interview, which is streaming live on Freedom Radio.

Meanwhile, Gambian journalist Baboucarr Ceesay has been picked by the officers of the National Intelligence Agency for questioning. His arrest has to do with a permit request he applied through the office of the Inspector General of police to convene a demonstration against the execution of the nine death row inmates. Mr. Ceesay wanted to lead a peaceful protest march denouncing dictator Jammeh’s move in killing the inmates. But his efforts to exercise his rights under the constitution to organize a peaceful march led to his arrest. Ceesay is still under NIA custody.

Posted on Friday, September 07, 2012 (Archive on Wednesday, October 31, 2012)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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