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U.N. calls for prisoner release in Gambia ahead of December poll

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BANJUL (Reuters) - Mohamed Ibn Chambas, top UN official for the region of West Africa on Thursday called on the dictator of Kanilai to release all political prisoners in The Gambia, when Yaya Jammeh, a former army lieutenant who came to power using the force of arms and have stayed there for 22 years by using violence, intimidation, tribalism and cross border voting. 

Mr Chambas visited the former smiling coast of The Gambia on Thursday and urged transparency, fairness and "level playing field" before and during elections slated for December 01 2016, which was in the previous years, boycotted by international observers, who reported intimidation and unfair use of government resources by the incumbent.  

"I entreat the government to release the thirty protesters involved in the April demonstrations, as well as the fourteen others who are in pre-trial detention ...," he said, referring to UDP protests for free speech and electoral reform. 

He also tasked the brutal regime to investigate and prosecute the murder of two opposition leaders in custody especially after the former interior minister accepted that they died in custody, after being inhumanely beaten by the notorious brutes known locally as the junglers. 

The opposition parties finally came together under a single candidate in an unprecedented move, amidst very harsh economic realities and many believe that Jammeh's 22 years of brutal rule is coming to  an end. 

This has been confirmed by the growing number of discontent which culminated in protests in April and large exodus of youths across the Sahara to western Europe, with many losing their lives in the waters. 

Chambas added that it was "regrettable" that a meeting scheduled for earlier this week between Jammeh and the opposition that was intended to provide guidelines for fair elections had been cancelled by the monster of Kanilai amidst fears that the opposition is getting to popular. 

At the last election in 2011, regional bloc ECOWAS refused to send observers, citing intimidation of the opposition and the electorate.

However, Jammeh said on Thursday all observers were welcome.

"I urged the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Alieu Momar Njai, to invite all those who doubt the credibility of the electoral process to come observe the whole election procedure," he said shortly after filing his candidacy to the IEC.

EU sources had previously said they had positive indications that a small team of election experts would be welcomed to the country.

That is despite signs of the former British colony's growing disenchantment with the West, such as its government's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in October.

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2016. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

 

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