Militants of three political parties on Sunday launched a mob-style assault on Kebba Jeffang , a journalist with the Foroyaa Newspaper and a political show host at Taranga FM.
The supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) and the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) used vulgar terms against the journalist inside the press conference room at the UDP Bureau in Manjai.
Their party leaders, Ousainou Darboe, UDP and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hamat Bah, NRP and Minister of Tourism; and Mai Fatty, GMC and Minister of Interior were present.
The supporters of the three parties physically assaulted the journalist after the press conference.
The three parties have decided not to contest the forthcoming National Assembly elections under the flag of the coalition government and called a press conference to tell their reasons.
“I sustained some bruises on my neck and they tore my shirt,” Jeffang told FPI.
Jeffang said: “I asked [Ousainou] Darboe to state the reason why they split and my second question was directed to Mai Fatty because he was saying that they ‘cannot contest [the national assembly election] as a coalition because that is not possible on legal grounds’”
“So I ask him (Fatty) if the coalition can contest in the presidential election and win, why they can’t do the same in the National Assembly elections because that is what Gambian people want to see.
“But even before I raised my questions there have been intimidation from their supporters inside the hall. They [ensured] the room was overcrowded with their supporters.”
FPI’s News Editor Modou S. Joof said: “It is an ‘irresponsible decision’ in the first place to allow their supporters to congest the press conference room, to intimidate the journalists and used vulgar words directed at Mr. Jeffang in their presence.
“This kind of harassment and intimidation of Journalists is totally unacceptable.
“A press statement from the Gambia Press Union (GPU) will not be enough; we have to boycott events orgainsed by the three parties. The journalist and the Management of the Foroyaa newspaper must also pursue legal action.”
Did nothing wrong
Journalist and Blogger Mamadou Edrisa Njie, said Jeffang did nothing wrong, he was only doing his job.
He said: “The action of the UDP, NRP [and GMC] supporters is unacceptable. I call on the management of the Foroyaa newspaper and the GPU to take up the matter to avoid such from happening again.
“Kebba was among the journalists who were reporting facts during the trying moments of the country – then he was needed, and today, he is assaulted for doing the same good job he was needed for. It’s unacceptable.”
Lamin Jahateh, also an editor at FPI, said: “If the three leaders cannot control their supporters from attacking a journalist in their presence then they are not well placed to run a country.
“Someone has to be held accountable for the assault on our colleague. The party leaders have to be held accountable.”
- See video of harassment, intimidation of journalists during the press conference https://www.facebook.com/www.gambiapressunion.org/videos/1339577306065322/