By Modou S. Joof
Senegal’s President Macky Sall has arrived in the Gambian capital, Banjul two hours ago in honour of President Yahya Jammeh’s invitation to grace The Gambia’s 48th independence anniversary to the dismay of Gambian dissidents abroad.
Mr Sall’s visit is clearly against the will of Gambian dissidents abroad, who have sent a letter to the Senegalese president on Saturday asking him to turn down the invitation in the wake of continued human rights violations in the tiny poor west African country.
However, pressure group, the Civil Society Association Gambia, CSAG, said should Mr Sall decide to visit Banjul, they want him to encourage Mr Jammeh to address and improve his record on human rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and human and sub-regional security.
Sall is seen as an emblem for democracy in the Senegambia-region in particular and sub-regional economic bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in general.
On Sunday, Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who like President Jammeh, is often critised by rights groups of human rights violations in his country arrived in Banjul to witness The Gambia’s celebrations of 48 years of “self-rule” following 400 years of British colonialism.
The Equatorial Guinea President is presiding over massive oil resources in the West-Central African country. He has been accused of not evenly distributing the country’s petro-dollars among the largely-poor population of E. Guinea.
President Yahya Jammeh took power in Gambia after deposing the democratically elected government of President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in 1994. After a two-year transition under a military junta, Jammeh has won every election from 1996, some of which have been widely disputed.
In recent years, he elevated his coup anniversary above his country’s independence, and continues to preside over a massive increase in poverty for the 18 years he’s been in power.
Mr Jammeh is expected to give his independence speech in a few hours time as he arrives at the July 22 Square in Banjul where this year’s national celebration is being held. He is expected to lambast the West especially the European Union which is currently engaged in a political-reform dialogue stalemate with The Gambia Government.