Swedish Newspaper Reports Gambia’s Brutal Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko, in Asylum Hunt

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Following his high profile sacking last week and replacemnt by army accountant, Momodou Alieu Bah, the whereabouts of The Gambia’s most feared and repressive Interior minister, Ousman Sonko, has been a case of much speculations and conjecture. Well, now, a Stockholm-based newspaper,  Aftonbladet , broke news that the most brutal hand of dictator Yaya Jammeh’s government has been booked in for political asylum following his landing there Tuesday. Below, we reprodued a translated version of the newspaper’s account of Ousman Sonko’s asylum application which has immediately ignited a camp-fire of debate among angry diasporans.

By Gustaf Tronarp: Aftonbladet Newspaper, Stockholm, Sweden.

(Translated From Swedish)

Described as one of the most brutal loyalists to the authoritarian president, Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has fired Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, who is notorious for his brutality. Now the ex-minister fled the country- and sought asylum in Sweden says a source for Aftonbladet. “I can confirm that a person with that name has applied for a residence permit in Sweden”, says Irene Sokolow at the Migration Board’s press Department. Ousman Sonko has been described as one of President Yahya Jammeh’s nearest men. But late last week, the authoritarian leader kicked him from the post of Interior minister as reported in several Gambian media. The information has not been confirmed officially by the regime in the country.

Since last Friday, it was unclear where Ousman Sonko has been. But now Aftonbladet says that the ex-minister has made it to Sweden having applied for a residence permit. According to an informant, Sonko landed at the airport on Tuesday evening. Shortly thereafter, he applied for asylum.

The Immigration Board confirms that an application for a residence permit has been received, however, the authority is reticent about the case: “I can confirm that an application for a residence permit has been received from a person who has the name you mentioned, says Irene Sokolow at the Migration Board’s Press Department. “The reason behind the application, whether it is asylum or something else, I cannot say. It is confidential.”

“In the case of a person who has high a position in another country, we can of course contact the Swedish authorities who may be interested to know that the person in question is here”, says Pierre Karatzian. “So far, however, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has not been contacted.” “I have contacted  the protocol of the embassies in the area and the Africa Department. We have not received any information on this”, says Sofia Karlberg at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Press.

“Brutal Loyalist”

President Yahya Jammeh took power in Gambia in connection with a military coup in 1994. He runs the country with the help of a number of loyal military leaders. Human rights organizations have for years been sounding the alarm about critics of the regime being oppressed and vulnerable to violence.

Last spring, several members of the opposition party UDP were arrested. One of the activists died in custody after having been subjected to torture, according to Amnesty International. UN demanded that the death should be investigated. President Jammeh responded by asking the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to “go to hell”. The former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko has been part of the political elite in Gambia for a long time now. Dissident media in the country, describe him as brutal and merciless..

Source : Aftonbladet Newspaper, Stockholm, Sweden: Author: By Gustaf Tron

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