Gambia: Three-years Jotna Protest Turns Violent with dozens left Injured

By Bakary Ceesay

The 3 Years Jotna second protest on Sunday was viciously dispersed by Police Intervention Unit (PIU) with the use of tear gas on protester at Sting Conner Junction in Old Jeshwang as the crowd continued to renew their demand for president Adama Barrow to respect the three-year  coalition agreement he promised to adhere to.

The protesters threw stones on the police in exchange of the firing of tear gas on them which turned the scene riotous.

On December 16, the pressure group protested and demanded the resignation of President Adama Barrow in honour of the agreement with the 2016 coalition for change that brought an end to President Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years of rule.

During the last protest the movement presented a petition to President Barrow through the government spokesperson, Ebrima Sankareh, at Denton Bridge.

The 3 Year Jotna officials vowed to continue the pressure if President Barrow failed to honor the demands made in their petition and resign on January 20.

However, on Sunday morning the pressure re-organized a protest after Inspector General of Police issued them a permit to protest from the Sting Conner Junction to the Independent Stadium in Bakau, Kanifing Municipality.

The protesters first gathered at Sting Conner Junction but later received tear gas from the PIU forcing the protesters to move from Sting Conner Junction and went towards Westfield Junction at Kanifing.

The  protesters had burnt tires on the highway linking Banjul to Serekunda as well set fire on the grasses by the road following the firing of tear gas by the police.

“We voted President Barrow for three years in office. The time is finished and we are calling on him to step-down.  Barrow has nothing to do but just to send PIU officers to fire tear gas at us,” Amadou Ceesay from Jarra Barrow Kunda told journalists.

He described the action of the security personnel as undemocratic, adding that the tear gasses could severely harm some of the protesters, especially asthma patient.

Some protesters attacked the correspondent of the West African Democratic Radio in The Gambia, Sankulay Janko and took away his phone.

Sidi Gassama another complainant alleged attack by the protesters described the action of some of them as that of rioters.

He explained that he was taking the photos of the protesters and sent it to his business partners in the United Kingdom to ensure they know the current situation of the country.

“The protesters attacked and wound me on my head and right hand,” he lamented.

Omar Sabally, one of the protesters said the demonstration had gone out of control that has never been their intention.

Police cancel protest permit
As the protest get tenser, the Gambia Police Force issued a statement declaring the permit issued to the protesters cancelled on pretext that conditions have been violated.

“Following the violation of conditions of the permit issued to the ‘Operation 3 Years Jotna Movement’ and protesters turning violent, the Office of the Inspector General of Police hereby informs the public that the permit is cancelled.”

By this notice, the police said individuals at the protest venue are advised to disperse peacefully.

“Equally, other individuals who may wish to join the protest are advised to stay home until the situation is put under control,” the police warned, soliciting the cooperation of the general public is highly solicited.

Shortly after disperse of the crowd of protesters, Abdoulie Fye, programme manager at the Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) said: “We have referred over twenty-eight people to the Kanifing General Hospital in Kanifing for treatment.

He disclosed that the injuries range from fracture, wounds and others suffocated as a result of tear gas.”

Kebba Manneh, chief executive officer of the Kanifing General Hospital said he cannot confirm the number of patients they received at the health facility as result of the protest.

He added that he did not receive major causalities and the conditions of the patients in the health facility are stable.

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