EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s first president and Prime Minister has been praised by one of his most trusted ministers during his rule for the leading role he played in the country’s emancipation from colonialism, calling him a man of absolute character and peace.
Omar Jallow –OJ- addressed thousands of Gambians before the country’s National Assembly in the capital, Banjul on Thursday, during the laying in state of the former statesman Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, saying his achievements and humility were one of the most successful values Gambians will cherish. “Because of his belief in the rule of law and dignity for human rights, he had taught Gambians to be self-independent.”
Former President Jawara died on Tuesday at his home in Fajara, in the country’s coastal town of Bakau, at age 95. He is accorded a state funeral and will be laid to rest at the Assembly grounds Thursday evening.
Mr. Jallow, who was agriculture minister during Jawara’s tenure said he had always put the interest of his people first before anything and had ruled the country with even distribution of equality to all. “In his 29 years of presidency, not one Gambian child had died through crossing the desert. No Gambian even needed a visa to travel to countries like Norway and the UK during his time.”
OJ said Jawara never tolerated sectionalism, saying in 1975 at OAU summit in Kampala, Uganda he proposed for the establishment of a national institutional office for human rights which led to the establishment of the African Center for Peoples’ and Human Rights Studies.
Wulli West National Assembly Member, Sidia Jatta, who contested with Mr. Jawara in the country’s 1992 presidential election described him was a democrat and a consistent man who have been effectively serving his country even before coming into politics. “Unless we are one people and accept the fact that we are, developing this small country will be a problem,” Mr. Jatta said.
Chief Justice Hassan B Jallow said he has worked under Mr. Jawara for a period of ten years and during that time, he saw him strongly standing for Gambian people and respected human right. “He believed that development is a comprehensive concept and respected the law immensely.”
He said Sir Dawda and his government injected democratic teachings and good governance in the country during his time and gave abundant space to political pluralism and freedom of assembly and association. “Jawara had taught Gambians how to live together and believed that development is a comprehensive process.”
The former statesman, who led the tiny West African state from independence in 1965 to 1994, was ousted in July 1994, in a coup led by then army captain Yahya Jammeh. He had served the country as Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 under British colonial rule, before becoming president. He is expected to be accorded a state burial.