Almami Fanding Taal, the spokesperson of the United Democratic Party (UDP), has dissociated the party from recent comments made by Mr. Momodou Sabally, who has increasingly become a prominent public face of the UDP and the party’s leading proselytizer.
“I don’t think the public needs guidance in this matter. Whenever the UDP wishes to communicate on any issue, the UDP either issues a statement or briefs the press on the matter. Mr Sabally does not speak for the UDP. He is an ordinary member of the UDP. It is disingenuous to suggest that his comments and views are the UDP’s,” Almani Taal had said.
Mr Sabally had described Lawyer Essa Faal as a “prejudiced narcissist with no other intention but to use the TRRC as a platform to launch his personal political agenda using the misery of poor victims as a launch pad for his political adventurism”.
Momodou Sabally was one-time Secretary-General to the government and former Head of the Civil Service under the Yahya Jammeh government while Essa Faal is currently the lead counsel at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
Mr Sabally’s remarks, posted on his Facebook page, seemed to have been as a response to a question seeking his views on the closing remarks by Essa Faal at the close of testimonies at the TRRC.
Mr. Faal had earlier admitted that his closing remarks, which many described as impassioned and touching, was extempore and “unscheduled”. Among other things, he had decried the violent tyranny of Yahya Jammeh’s government and had asked that the former president be tried for crimes against humanity.
Sabally, who was at some point part of the Jammeh government, seemed to have taken umbrage at Essa Faal’s remarks. He accused Essa Faal of having worked as “a tool of Yahya Jammeh at the ministry of justice in the early years of the AFPRC”.
Sabally continued to allege that; “For such a person to mount the moral high horse and constantly browbeat a selected group of witnesses while protecting others like Fatou Bom Bensouda at the same time; while the nation sits hypnotized, amazes me.
“Let’s watch his next steps; it is only when he rolls out his grand egotistical agenda, that Gambians will understand what I predicted about Essa Faal when he shamelessly bribed a witness at the TRRC in the name of a land gift; and also pitted the unwitting public against the powers that be by preempting the outcomes of the TRRC’s work…
Sabally also expressed concern that “Essa’s reckless adventure is certainly going to mar the public perception regarding the TRRC. At the very least, Essa should have waited for a reasonable cooling period after the submission of the TRRC report before venturing into politics…”
Sabally’s caustic commentary, however, seemed to have sparked a furious debate online and in other places, with many commentators expressing the opinion that an attack on Essa Faal regarding his work at the TRRC was an attack on a vital instrument of The Gambia’s reform initiative.
Many others also believed that given Sabally’s prominence in the UDP, the party needed to more forcefully and emphatically dissociate itself from the former top government functionary.
Madi Jobarteh, popular human rights activist, also put the party on the spot, asking that it publicly discipline Momodou Sabally or dismiss him from its ranks as a way to show that it does not share the opinion expressed by him.
Almami Taal however told NewDay that it would be unfair to conflate Mr Sabally’s personal views with those of the party. He also noted that UDP’s official opinion on the work of the TRRC was public knowledge and that the party was in total support and agreement with the commission.
He also reiterated the UDP’s position that it would never welcome the support of any of Yahaya Jammeh’s apologists. “For the avoidance of doubt, I stand by my comments that the UDP will not welcome the support of any APRC or Jammeh apologists or any others making the acceptance of Jammeh’s horrendous crimes a bargaining chip for their support (of the UDP), he said.
Published on June 21, 2021