By Lamin Ceesay
Fights have broken out on Monday between security officers and United Democratic Party (UPD) supporters protesting against the prolong detention of their party leader along with other supporters.
A large crowd of opposition supporters had gathered outside the high court where the UDP leader, Ousainou Darboe and over 20 other party supporters are being tried for various criminal offences including conspiring to commit felony, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.
They were arrested last month for taking part in an ‘authorized’ protest against the regime of President Yahya Jammeh.
An application for bail by a group of lawyers defending them was refused last week by a special criminal court presided over by Justice Ottaba.
There are reports that during Monday protest tear gas were used by the security officers to disperse the large crowd and a number of arrests were made.
Meanwhile the UDP has issued a statement condemning what it called an ‘overzealous response’ to its members by the security officers.
The party said while it is assessing the situation, it can confirm that its supporters were assaulted by members of the security forces including the discharge of firearms causing numerous injuries.
“The Gambian people will remain steadfast in their fight for freedom, justice and democracy using all the lawful means available to them,” the party said.
“The shedding of innocent blood will not deter our March to freedom and we serve notice that it is the inherent right of every citizen to defend themselves from the excesses of a tyranny that poses an existential threat to our nation and its people.”
This is the first time opposition supporters have clashed with security officers since the beginning of the court case against the party executive.