Gambian President Yahya Jammeh threatened to kill any opposition politicians and activists in a speech given on Wednesday as part of his nationwide tour.
“Let me warn you, those evil vermin called opposition: If you want to destabilize this country, I will bury you nine feet deep and no Westerner can say anything,” he said.
According to Freedom Newspaper, the speech marked the first time Mr. Jammeh publicly addressed a crowd since unrest began in April.
It would be recalled that Ebrima Solo Sadeng, the National Organizing Secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), died in custody in April after being arrested for leading a peaceful protest demanding political reform. Several other UDP members and others who participated in the April protest were also arrested and detained. It has since been revealed that two UDP party members died after being tortured by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency.
The Gambian leader dismissed such reports as lies perpetuated by the Western media in order to destabilize the country.
“They say there are massive demonstrations in the Gambia. What great liars are the Western press; you are all liars,” he said to the crowd.
“You are used as mouthpieces to destabilize Africa, but in the Gambia you will fail, as you have failed for twenty-one years to destabilize this country with your lies and evil intentions.”
Mr. Jammeh remarked that Gambians have the right to oppose his rule through electoral means, but he threatened to kill any individual that tries to take violent action against him.
“You have a right to join any political party. You can vote for anyone you want. But no one has the right to join a group of hate mongers that hate themselves and hate Africa and are slaves to the West.”
The leader portrayed the upcoming December election as a choice between progress and Western-supported backwardness, adding that some Gambian opposition members are being sponsored by the West as part of a plot to overthrow his government and prevent the Gambia from developing.
“These are people being sponsored by the West to destabilize progressive African countries…. Let me make it very clear: there is no single Western country that wants to see an African country develop,” he said.
Mr. Jammeh has ruled the Gambia since coming to power in 1994 and will be seeking a fifth term in office this December.