ARREST OF SOLO SANDENG & OTHERS AT WESTFIELD PROTEST

Mamour M. Mbenga

Dozens of protestors calling for electoral reform at the Westfield Junction in Serrekunda yesterday afternoon, 14 April were Westfield Junctiondispersed by the police and a number of them including Solo Sandeng of the UDP were arrested.

Protestors displayed a banner with the inscription “We need proper electoral reform”.

A leading element when asked for the reason for organising the protest told Foroyaa, “We are peacefully demonstrating, we need a proper electoral reform, because we feel that we have been pushed into a corner, that the Gambia doesn’t have a genuine electoral system. We are demanding genuine political reform; that is why we come out in the street to inform and express our concern; we are not here to create crime neither riot.”

Some of the youths who took part in the protest said, “We are a youth group and citizens of this country, we need freedom of speech, we have the right to express our feelings, we are not here to commit riots, to insult anybody neither to fight. We need proper electoral reform, a change of Government.”

Soon after the protest started a senior police officer arrived and attempted to arrest Solo Sandeng, the protesters denied him access and called for solidarity with Solo; that if Solo is arrested they will be arrested too. Mr Solo Sandeng is the propaganda secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).

Later on around 3pm a police truck with dozens of Police Intervention Unit officers arrived. They started dispersing the crowd, beating and arresting them as they did so. The arrestees were whisked away.

Mr. Solo Sandeng was also arrested at the scene by the same senior police officer who came earlier to arrest him. The commissioner picked him quietly and then hired a taxi to take him away in the direction of Kairaba Avenue followed by the other arrestees. Plain clothes security personnel were also involved in the arrest of the protestors.

At the scene of the incident, some personnel in a pick up vehicle also joined the police intervention unit to search and arrest other protesters who mixed with the crowd.

At the time of going to press, the fate of the arrestees and their number was unknown. Foroyaa will continue its investigation and inform the public accordingly.