Dakar - Gambia's president insisted Sunday he would
not bow to pressure over his country's use of capital punishment as the
opposition urged him to commute death sentences.
Jammeh announced on Friday he was imposing a moratorium on executions,
after coming under intense criticism for the firing squad killing of
nine convicts last month.
On Sunday, main opposition leader Ousainou Darboe called on Jammeh to go further and commute death sentences to life in prison.
told AFP that the decision to halt executions came "as a result of
serious international pressure and it was right that the government has
responded in a mature way to the outcry."
But "I think he should
go further than this and commute the sentences of all those on death row
to life imprisonment", said Darboe, leader of the United Democratic
Party that was defeated by Jammeh in last year's election.
The president, however, insisted he would not be told what to do.
I look like somebody who will bow down to human pressure? No way,"
Jammeh told thousands of Gambian youths gathered in his home village of
Kanilai to show support for executions.
In his first public
reaction to the furor over the executions, broadcast on state
television, Jammeh referenced BBC coverage of the issue, saying he would
"never bow down to outside pressure or pressure from any group," citing
the European Union as an example.
to Jammeh's office, international pressure had played a part in the
decision to suspend executions, including from Ivory Coast, Mauritania
The execution of nine convicts by firing squad on 29
August followed an announcement 10 days earlier by Jammeh that the
country planned to execute all death row prisoners by mid-September.
Two Senegalese were among the nine executed last month.
groups estimate another 38 convicts face firing squad deaths in the
small west African country where Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994
coup, rules with an iron fist and tolerates no criticism.
The president, who claims he can cure Aids and other illnesses, is often accused of rights abuses and muzzling journalists.
International has condemned Gambia's increasing use of the death
penalty over the past few years, claiming that some people have been
sentenced for crimes of a political nature and suffered torture and
harsh treatment to extract "confessions".
All those sentenced to
death for treason should be pardoned Darboe urged, saying "the
convictions of some of these people were politically motivated".
the political prisoners are a former army chief, an ex-intelligence
chief, a former deputy police chief, as well as businessmen and