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06BANJUL15 2006-01-09 16:41:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Banjul
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1. (SBU) Per ref a, representative of opposition coalition,
National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), told
us January 4 of NADD's plan to stage an outdoor mass rally
January 7, but expressed doubt that authorities would give
the required authorization. Ambassador subsequently raised
the matter with the Interior Minister, who gave assurances
that a permit to hold the event would be granted and that no
restrictions would be imposed. (Note: NADD had recently
decided against holding a rally when authorities denied use
of sound amplification equipment. End note.) The Minister
proved true to his word, as NADD's event occurred -- with
microphones -- as scheduled January 7 in the Banjul suburb of

2. (SBU) FSN employee attended the three-hour rally and
reported that it unfolded peacefully; there was no noticeable
police presence. The rally attracted a respectable crowd,
estimated at 4,000, who represented a wide cross-section of
Gambian society and were addressed by a series of opposition
figures. The speakers, with an eye to the 2006-7
Presidential and National Assembly elections, covered an
array of topics. Besides expressing solidarity with the
three previously detained NADD leaders currently free on
bail, the speakers criticized the GOTG's economic policies as
insufficent to bring about sustainable development and
poverty reduction. They also focused on President Jammeh's
end-of-year television interview (ref b), denouncing, in
particular, his "threat" that, if necessary, he would "kill
20,000 Gambians in order to save 1.5 million Gambians" and
then "go to sleep" (i.e. his sleep would not be troubled at
having to perform this deed).



3. (SBU) The GOTG's decision to permit NADD to hold the rally
without restrictions was a positive development, as was the
absence of trouble-making by the police or provocateurs
associated with Jammeh's ruling APRC party. As reported ref
a, the NADD rep informed us that NADD also plans to hold a
rally January 21 in the western town of Brikama and will
serve as a further test of the GOTG's willingness to permit
the opposition to take its message -- whether on the upcoming
elections or the case of the three NADD leaders facing trial
-- to the public END COMMENT