Gambia warns 'troublemakers'

2009-09-21 20:06

Banjul - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Monday warned that anyone who sought to "destabilise" the tiny west African nation would be killed.

"If you want to destabilise this country and bring trouble and suffering to my people, I will make sure that you are dead," Jammeh told state television.

He added that co-operating with human rights groups was no guarantee of protection.

"Those who want to collaborate and listen to those so-called human rights campaigners and think that they will be defended by them are fooling themselves," said the president, who has held power in Gambia for 15 years.

Jammeh also issued a direct warning to human rights groups, which have criticised the Gambian head of state's iron-fisted rule, not to interfere in the country's affairs.

'Loosen the vice'

"What I want to make very clear to everybody and those so-called human rights campaigners is that I will never allow anyone to destabilise this country," the president said.

"If you are a troublemaker, keep away from the country," he warned.

Jammeh, who has ruled since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, has been repeatedly attacked by human rights campaigners for his repressive attitude particularly towards the media.

He came under fire earlier this month from media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which urged Jammeh to "loosen the vice" on the media after six journalists who criticised him were jailed.

The journalists - one woman and five men - spent just under a month in prison after publishing comments critical of Jammeh.

They were originally given two-year jail sentences but were freed two weeks ago after receiving a presidential pardon.

Despite freeing the journalists, Jammeh has kept up pressure on the media by warning journalists they could still be prosecuted for being "disrespectful".