Gambia's Barrow says reconciliation within reach
Gambian President Adama Barrow said Thursday that the West African country is on the path of reconciliation, two-and-a-half years after his predecessor Yahya Jammeh went into exile facing allegations of torture.
Jammeh, who ruled the tiny West African state for 22 years, fled the country in January 2017 after losing presidential elections and initially refusing to step down.
He had come to power in a bloodless coup in July 1994 and was repeatedly re-elected in disputed circumstances until defeated in December 2016 by the relatively unknown Barrow.
After other West African states intervened, Jammeh fled into exile in the central African state of Equatorial Guinea.
Human rights activists accuse his regime of torturing opponents, summary executions, forced disappearances and rape.
A Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has been hearing evidence of the mayhem, including testimony from hitmen who said they carried out dozens of murders for Jammeh.
Since January, victims have staged a series of protests outside the TRRC offices.
Their testimony has been broadcast live on television in the former British colony wedged within Senegal, with a narrow coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.
"Through the TRRC, victims and bereaved families are coming to terms with their plight or the loss of their loved ones, and offenders are reconciling with their victims and themselves," Barrow said in a speech before parliament.
Last week, the Gambian government said it intended to prosecute Jammeh on allegations of theft and corruption.
The former president acquired more than 280 private and commercial properties, islands, forest parks, wetland and wildlife reserves during his time in power, according to a commission of inquiry cited by Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou.