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Rev. Jackson to ask Gambian president to halt executions

Rev. Jesse Jacks(left) Paul McCartney<br>

Rev. Jesse Jackson (left) and Paul McCartney

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Updated: October 17, 2012 6:46AM

The execution last month of nine prisoners who were on death row in Gambia was the first time in three decades that any prisoners had been executed in the West African nation, and following them President Alhaji Yahya Jammeh vowed to follow through on the executions of the country’s remaining death row prisoners.

Their crimes? Drug trafficking, illicit drug use, homosexuality, murder, terrorism and other various subversive activities against either the state or the people. A former military officer, Jammeh, who seized power in a coup in 1994, said such things would not be tolerated.

The announcement of his intent to execute the remainder of the nation’s death row prisoners sparked an international furor, and in Chicago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was “very concerned about the global reputation of the country as a result of the execution of nine prisoners a few weeks ago.”

Jackson on Friday announced plans to travel to Gambia this weekend to meet with Jammeh, “to appeal to him as a human and civil rights activist to halt this month’s scheduled execution of the remaining 39 death row inmates,” a release from Rainbow-PUSH said.

“My appeal to President Jammeh is on humanitarian grounds and not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs,” Jackson said. “I respect the sovereignty of The Gambia and I am available to assist in anyway possible.”

There were reports on Saturday that Jammeh has given in to international pressure and will not go through with the rest of the planned executions.

A Rainbow-PUSH representative was not immediately available Saturday afternoon to say if Jackson still planned to travel to Gambia.

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