The director-general of the Gambia’s state TV and radio broadcaster, Momodou Sabally, was dimissed last week and immediately arrested by the security services on unspecified charges. Soon after, a reporter with the same broadcaster, GRTS, Bakary Fatty, was also detained by members of the national intelligence agency, reported Gainako. These arrests were followed by a third. Alhagie Manka, a documentary maker, TV director and and photojournalist, was taken into custody after taking photographs of a presidential motorcade. All three have yet to appear in court, which is said by Human Rights Watch (HRW), to be a violation of Gambian law.
The arrests come ahead of elections set for 1 December in which the president, Yahya Jammeh, will be seeking a fifth consecutive five-year term. Widely described as a dictator, he took power in Gambia in a 1994 military coup and has since won four elections.
HRW has raised concerns about the fairness of the latest election, contending that Jammeh’s security forces have previously used enforced disappearances, torture, intimidation and arbitrary arrests to suppress dissent and preserve Jammeh’s grip on power.
Momodou Sabally was once regarded as a supporter of Jammeh, having held a ministerial post. But he was fired last year and then held in prison for four months before making a surprising comeback as GRTS director-general.