Gambia’s President Yahya A.J.J Jammeh continued his slam of the Mandinka ethnic group on Monday, the eve of Tobaski (Muslim Eid) when he said his “Mandingo brothers and sisters have every right to oppose the Government but they have no right whatsoever to “tarnish the image of our country”.
“I will not tolerate any campaign based on malicious lies and fabrication just for political asylum,” Jammeh said in a televised Eid message days after his government labeled the main opposition party, the UDP, as a “Mandingo tribal group” being used as a tool to launch a shameless smear campaign of lies against The Gambia.
Jammeh urges the youth of this country not to entertain tribalism and narrow-minded, self-centered vermin, disguised as a political party.
According to him, true political parties can oppose any government based on logic and principle but would never yearn for the destruction of their country and her people.
“This government has tolerated so much nonsense for a very long period of time. As from this day, we will have ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Tribalists and dangerous criminals [whether] they [are] disguised as opposition, or asylum seekers,” he said.
Pres. Jammeh added: “Tarnishing the image of this country is treasonable and all those engaged in this would pay a high price. Hating one’s country is Ungodly. In any religion mounting a smear campaign against one’s country on behalf of outside powers is treason.”
On October 8, the UDP denies allegations of tribalism and stated the Jammeh Government is using its party as a “propaganda tool.” Its leader Ousainou Darboe described the allegations as “nonsense” and instead encouraged the government to address the current economic hardship in the country.
“I believe that this government’s image was tarnish by itself. The way you treat your citizen tells a lot,” Mr Darboe argued while giving a long list of people he said were arbitrarily arrested, detained, and tortured or disappeared.
UDP leader stressed: “Instead of President Jammeh addressing the horrible economic hardship, poor health condition, low education status, and massive youth unemployment, he is going for tribalism”.
He urged Jammeh to focus on the bad state of roads in the country and the poor infrastructure to improve the living conditions of Gambians. “We want our people to be united so that we can achieve our common goal. This country belongs to all tribes,” he said.
The Mandinka ethnic group is the largest in The Gambia according to the 2003 national population census. Their origin can be trace as far back as the Mali Empire, one of three great empires that stretch much of West Africa, which existed between 1230 and 1600.
The ethnic group which is also referred to as Mandingo or Malinke can be found in The Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mali, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and some parts of Guinea Bissau.