“When dogs bark I don’t bark because I am not a dog. I don’t listen to dogs,” Jammeh said in an exclusive interview with the state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services, GRTS, at State House on Friday March 23.
Jammeh, 47, ascended to power in 1994 through a military coup that abruptly ended the democratically elected government of the country’s founding leader, Sir DawdaJawara’s 30-year reign.
On November 24, the military-turned-civilian president won his fourth five-year mandate at the presidential polls, bagging 72 % of votes cast, albeit the opposition rejected election result as bogus.
However, earlier this year - March 8 - six of the seven active opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary polls because there was “no level field for a genuine multi-party election”.
Opposition pointed to a number of electoral irregularities. Chief among them, is abuse incumbency – excessive use of state media, government offices as campaign centers, state vehicles, and the involvement of local government authorities and security forces in partisan politics even when the law obliges them to be neutral.
“Is it now that I am using government resources? If they [opposition] think that the resources I am using are government resources, what do they mean by government resources? You know they are never specific? They are here to serve foreign interest and I don’t care,” Jammeh told his interviewer.
He said denied using state resources in elections, noting that if takes back what he owns at the state institutions, they will not function. Even the state broadcaster, GRTS, he claimed, is using his cameras and that The Gambia government last purchased a vehicle for him in 1995.
“Since then I have been buying my own vehicles. I designed the type of vehicles I want and they do it the way I wanted them to,” said Jammeh.
Jammeh said his government will not respond to what he calls, opposition-backed foreign election observers hence his government has not invited them to observe the election. He noted that his government repudiated foreign election observers’ report because they should have been on the grounds two months prior to the election.
“The general trend is that if their agents do not win election, it is not deemed free and fair. What I care about is the verdict of the Gambian people. I don’t care what they (observers) say”, Jammeh stated.
Jammeh went on to launch a personal attack on an opposition leader cum lawyer, who is defending an Australian mining company, Carnegie Minerals at the court of Arbitration in London.
“A good opposition leader will not defend foreign interest against the interest of his country,” he said apparently referring to revered lawyer cum leader of main opposition-UDP, MrOusainouDarboe, who is helping Carnegie pursue a claim of willful damages against Gambia government for the premature revoking of their mining licenses.
Jammeh stepped forward, then leaned back in his lush chair and said: “These people have stolen 8 million dollars from the Gambian people, a big opposition leader bailed him and the guy absconded.“They took Gambia government to the arbitration court for breach of contract, which was not true. And the so-called opposition leader is defending Carnegie minerals in London.
“You want to be president and you are supporting a thief who stole from the government. Is that the type of opposition we need?”