Gambia Admits 'Shortcomings' After Lifting Ban on Media Outlets




(Bloomberg) -- Gambia's government reopened two shut-down radio stations and dropped charges against four journalists for their coverage of last month's violent protests against President Adama Barrow, saying that its response against the demonstrations wasn't "perfect."

Protests on Jan. 26 saw the most severe crackdown on dissent since Barrow took office three years ago, with demonstrators calling on the 55-year-old to step down in line with an agreement he made with coalitions partners in 2016. Police arrested 137 activists and banned the 'Three Years is Enough' movement, which the government labeled as "subversive, violent and illegal."

The government learned "lessons from this episode," Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told reporters. "There will be challenges, there will be shortcomings. The important thing is to resolve and remedy those shortcomings and challenges when they do occur."

Barrow defeated former dictator Yahya Jammeh in December 2016 with the support of seven political parties that had rallied behind him to bring down the former leader's repressive regime. He is expected to run for re-election in 2021 despite his promise to coalition partners.

The High Court in Gambia's capital, Banjul, released eight members of the activist group on bail on Monday after they spent a month in remand. They continue to face charges of unlawful assembly and rioting. Other members of the group were released without charges after spending three days in detention.

To contact the reporter on this story: Modou Joof in Johannesburg at mjoof@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net, Vernon Wessels

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