Gambia's Jammeh accuses Britain of funding opposition

28th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh on Wednesday lashed out at former colonial master Britain with accusations it was funding the opposition ahead of next year's presidential election.

"I have gathered evidence that the British government through its High Commission in Banjul is pumping in money for the opposition to prepare for the next presidential election but no matter what, they will never succeed," the president told thousands of Gambians at a political rally in Banjul.

"Let them go ahead but I swear that the opposition will never succeed in this country. They will not have even a ministerial position," Jammeh said.

"We as Gambians are not fools. They cannot colonise us twice. It will never happen as I will never allow democracy of exploitation."

Jammeh, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1994, is often criticised by the international community for human rights abuses in the tiny African country, a favourite among European tourists for its palm-fringed beaches.

The 45-year-old leader brushes aside regular condemnations and has thrown several foreign officials who incur his wrath, including two UN officials in the past year and the deputy British high commissioner in 2001.

A British missionary couple were imprisoned in 2008 for sedition after sending emails with content that intended to "bring hatred or contempt against the president or the government" of Gambia.

Observers accused Jammeh of mounting paranoia as increasing numbers of high-ranking former allies land in jail.

The ex-police and intelligence chief are among eight sentenced to death for attempting a coup in 2009 two weeks ago and another former police chief and former head of the anti-drugs agency face charges of drug-trafficking.

Jammeh recently told a rally: "Whether you like it or not, no coup will end my government, no elections can end my government. By God's grace I will rule this country as long as I wish and choose someone to replace me."

© 2010 AFP

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