08 September 2012

Gambia News: Gambian activist goes missing ahead of planned protest over executions

(Africa Review) - The Gambian government appears to be cracking down on opposition to its much-criticised spate of executions after reports that its intelligence agency had picked up an activist planning to lead a protest.

Mr Baboucarr Ceesay, a vice president of the Gambia Press Union and a former journalist with the opposition Foroyaa newspaper, was Friday arrested after he went to pick a permit for the planned march.
The demonstration was being planned in secret as President Yahya Jammeh's authoritarian government does not tolerate internal criticism or displays of dissidence.
But demonstrations in Gambia are illegal without police clearance, and this forced the activists to apply for a permit from the authorities.
Sources say Mr Ceesay, also a correspondent for the Nairobi-headquartered regional media house Nation Media Group, was detained by the secret police when he went to collect the permit for which he had applied in his name.
Details of his whereabouts remain unclear but he was reportedly escorted to his house for a search Friday morning before being taken away.
There has been heavy police presence at strategic places after reports of planned demonstrations against more executions following the Gambian government confirmation that it had executed nine death row inmates two weeks ago.
The US embassy last week warned its citizens to be vigilant while travelling to the tiny west African nation of 1.8 million and which had not executed a prisoner since 1981.
The Gambian government has been under huge international pressure following the executions with the AU, EU and UN all having called for a halt to the killings.

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