The Gambia

Birds replace Jammeh on Gambia's new notes

The Gambia dalasi
Getty Images
Former President Dawda Jawara also had his portraits on the currency while in power

The Gambia has released new currency notes with national birds replacing portraits of former President Yahya Jammeh.

Central bank chief Bakary Jammeh presented copies of the new notes to President Adama Barrow ahead of their release through commercial banks from Tuesday.

The Gambia uses the dalasi, which has been in circulation since independence in 1965. The current notes are a total overhaul of the denominations that include 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.

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The currencies with Mr Jammeh's image were printed in 2015 and the central bank announced in 2018 that it was phasing out those notes.

Mr Jammeh's rule ended when President Adama Barrow took office after winning elections in December 2016.

The currency change is happening at a time when the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), set up by the new government, is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh's 22-year rule, including reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.

Outrage as The Gambia plans to free Jammeh's hitmen

Yahya Jammeh
AFP
TRRC is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed under Yahya Jammeh's rule

Relatives of people murdered under the regime of The Gambia's former ruler, Yahya Jammeh, have expressed outrage over the planned release of three self-confessed assassins.

The men, who were members of a paramilitary unit known as the “Junglers”, appeared before the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) two weeks ago.

The three soldiers - Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badjie - have been under detention since their arrest by the military police in 2017 when President Adama Barrow took office after winning elections in December 2016.

His government set up the TRRC which is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh's 22-year rule, including reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.

During the hearings, the three assassins accused the exiled president of ordering numerous murders including the notorious 2013 killings of two US-Gambians and a veteran local journalist Deyda Hydara.

Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou has defended the decision to release the three, saying it would encourage other human rights violators to testify.

"The TRRC is not a court of law and one of its primary objectives is to establish the truth," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

"What we must not do is to scare people away from telling the truth because that will not be in anyone's interest."

But Mr Hydara’s son Baba said it has been hard for the family, who have been seeking justice for 15 years, to hear about the hit squad.

He told the AFP news agency that the testimony from Mr Jatta particularly affected him: "How it was planned, how he explained it, it's like they did their homework. They studied. They really did research on how and where to hit him... it was very premeditated."

We are appealing to the government to make sure that these confessed killers are not in our streets, are not in our communities," Reuters quotes him as saying.

News of the plan to release the three soldiers has caused a public outcry, not just from relations of the victims, journalist Saikou Suwareh Jabai told BBC’s Newsday.

But he said the TRRC is proving a healing process for The Gambia, helping victims and their families find closure.

Mr Jammeh is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea. He was forced from office in January 2017 after regional powers sent in troops when he refused to give up power.

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Correction: This post has been adapted to reflect that the three soldiers have not yet been released.

Gambian soldier says ex-president ordered him to kill migrants

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A Gambian soldier has admitted to participating in the 2005 execution of around 50 migrants on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh, who is reported to have feared the men had come to overthrow him.

Lt Malick Jatta was giving testimony before the country's Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) which is investigating atrocities committed during Mr Jammeh's 22-year rule.

He earlier admitted involvement in the murder of the journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004 on the orders of the former president.

Mr Jammeh - who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea - always denied any involvement in the deaths of the migrants or the journalist.

Lt Jatta's confession corroborates the findings of human rights activists and campaign groups including Human Rights Watch.

Its report said the West African migrants, who were headed for Europe, were arrested and executed after the boat they had boarded in Senegal landed in The Gambia.

Read more:

Yahya Jammeh
AFP
Ex-President Yahya Jammeh has denied involvement in the deaths of the migrants

Bringing Down Jammeh

In 2016 Gambians showed the world the power of democracy by removing President Jammeh.
In 2016 Gambians showed the world the power of democracy when they removed President Yahya Jammeh through the ballot box.  Now there are concerns the new President Adama Barrow may also try and cling to power.

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Jammeh junta ally charged with murder in Gambia

Ade Daramy

Banjul, The Gambia

Yankuba Touray
QTV
Yankuba Touray refused to testify before the TRRC

A former member of the military junta that brought Yahya Jammeh to power in The Gambia in July 1994 has been charged with murder.

Yankuba Touray had refused to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), which is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh's 22-year rule.

The former president was forced from office in January 2017 after regional powers sent in troops when he refused to give up power.

Witnesses who are called to appear before the TRRC must tell the truth to forego any sanctions for crimes alleged to have been committed.

Mr Touray has been charged with the murder in 1996 of Ousman Koro Ceesay, the junta’s finance minister.

Other witnesses had told the tribunal that the murder had allegedly taken place in Mr Touray’s house and that he had participated in the killing, beating Mr Ceesay with a large pestle.

Mr Touray’s evidence had been eagerly awaited, but when he sat in the witness room last week, he wore what can only be described as a disdainful smirk and refused to testify.

When asked his first question, he got up, gave a talk-to-the-hand gesture and walked out.

He felt that he should have immunity from prosecution because he was a member of junta’s council, effectively the cabinet.

But the attorney general disagreed and Mr Touray was subsequently arrested and will now face trial.

Read: Torture revelations transfix The Gambia

Woman 'raped by Jammeh' praised for speaking out

Yahya Jammeh (archive photo)
Getty Images
Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia for 22 years

The Gambia's Minister of Justice says he "salutes the courage" of 23-year-old former beauty pageant Fatou "Toufah" Jallow after she publicly accused ex-President Yahya Jammeh of raping her when he was in office.

Abubacarr Tambadou said he urged "all women and girls in the country to emulate Ms Jallow by speaking up about their own experiences with former President Jammeh".

The BBC tried unsuccessfully to contact Mr Jammeh, who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, about the allegations.

A spokesman for his APRC party denied the accusations made against Mr Jammeh.

"We as a party and The Gambian people are tired of the steady stream of unfounded allegations that have been reported against our ex-president," said Ousman Rambo Jatta, in a written statement to the BBC.

Read: Profile of former Gambian strongman