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Ex-president Jammeh was ‘trouble’ for Gambia from the start: first…

BANJUL ( ) – Yahya Jammeh was going to be “trouble” for Gambia from the moment he seized power, the first witness to a commission convened to investigate rights abuses under his presidency said on Monday.

The Truth, Reconciliati,上海品茶QQHadley,on and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which opened after repeated delays caused by a lack of funding, is part of a reckoning with a 22-year-long rule marked by extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances.

Testifying about the 1994 coup, police official Ebrima Ismaila Chongan recalled Jammeh, who later declared Gambia an Islamic republic, as a heavy drinker who was often up to no good.

“He used to come to me to beg for money and other things,” said Chongan, who trained Jammeh as a police cadet and later spent two years in the capital Banjul’s notorious Mile 2 Prison for opposing the coup. “When I knew that he was the leader, I knew that Gambia was going to be in trouble.”

The TRRC, an initiative of current President Adama Barrow expected to sit for two years, plans to investigate the coup’s origins and abuses throughout Jammeh’s tenure, which ended in 2017 when he fled to Equatorial Guinea after losing an election.

Atrocities uncovered in the past two years include the execution in 2005 of 52 migrants from neighboring Senegal whose bodies were dumped down a well.

At least 200 people crowded the exhibition hall of a Banjul hotel for the first day of hearings, with dozens more huddled outside within earshot while others tuned in across the country to live radio and television broadcasts.

“Today is the day, and we want to hear from every single witness and victim,” said Baba Jallow, the co,上海品茶会所Kaia,mmissi,上海外卖品茶群Queena,on’s executive secretary, who as a journalist in 2000 was forced into exile by threats from Jammeh’s forces.

“I am just grateful that the process … is finally off the ground.”

The 11-member commission can make criminal referrals, and many victims want to see Jammeh 上海品茶QQreturn to Gambia to face trial for the abuses it investigates. But that seems unlikely given the warm welcome he has received from Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang.

Previous truth and reconciliation commissions, a model popularized by hearings in South Africa in the 1990s that delved into its apartheid past, have received mixed reviews – seen as cathartic moments for victims but criticized for granting amnesties too liberally and only looking into politically significant cases.

Rivals unite in Indian state in bid to beat Modi in elections

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI ( ) – Two political rivals in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh will form an alliance in a bid to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in national election scheduled for May, leaders of the parties said.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), both of whom command large support bases among Uttar Pradesh state’s working class and are led by former chief ministers, will contest the election as a team, they said.

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and accounts for about a sixth of all members of the parliament, the highest by a single state. Barring a coupl,上海品茶419论坛Barbara,e of exceptions in the 1990s, the party winning the most number of seats there has helped form the federal government.

Out of the 80 seats in the state, SP and BSP will nominate candidates for 38 seats each, BSP chief Mayawati Das said at a joint press conference with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday.

They will not contest the other four seats, which include two that have historically been held by the country’s main opposition party, Congress.

Congress, which ruled India for nearly four decades since its independence from Britain in 1947, has also been working to build a “grand alliance” with other parties ahead of the polls.

Mayawati, however, said Congress would not be a part of the BSP-SP alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “We can surely stop the BJP from coming to power with this alliance with SP,” she said.

On Friday, Yadav had told news channel NDTV: “We can give Congress two seats they have always held”, referring to the constituencies from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi have contested in the past.

Mamata Banerjee, head of Trinamool Congress party and chief minister of eastern India’s West Bengal state who has been pushing to create a mega alliance of regional parties to defeat the BJP, welcomed the announcement in a tweet.

“I welcome the alliance of the SP a上海品茶工作室nd the BSP for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Banerjee tweeted.

“Let us cherish the ‘idea of India’ for which our freedom fighters laid down their lives. Our people and our great institutions must strive to remain “independent”, in the true sense of the word.”

OPPOSITION GETS A FILLIP

Opposition parties across the country received a fillip last month, when India’s ruling party lost power in three states and dealt Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014.

The BJP, SP and BSP contested against each other during the state elections in March 2017, which the BJP comfortably won, but political analysts say a BSP-SP alliance could affect the ruling party’s prospects.

The BJP had a 40 percent vote share in the state polls, the BSP and SP put together accounted for 44,上海品茶QQLance, percent. To be sure, voting patterns could be different when the world’s largest democracy goes to polls.

The BJP, however, is confident of winning elections in Uttar Pradesh. “We will win 74 out of the 80 seats in Uttar P,上海外卖品茶群Ida,radesh,” president Amit Shah said in a televised address on Friday.

Despite the strategic significance and having been ruled by different parties since independence, Uttar Pradesh remains one of India’s most backward states.

It is notorious for its crime rate and unlicensed gun use, has below-average literacy levels, an abysmally low human development index and worrying levels of population growth.

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