Mr. Editor, as Amnesty International continue documenting and highlighting cases of gross Human Rights violations in the tiny West African enclave of the Gambia, the situation has reached crisis point and all effort must be made to rescue that state from major collapse. Yaya Jammeh, a totalitarian dictator of barbaric proportions and the worst such ruler in recent memory reminiscent of the Edi Amin years in Uganda, yet the African Union, Britain and the world continue to remain silent. The country is at major crossroads carrying a crumbling economy and infrastructure as investors continue to flee the poverty stricken nation. A clueless president competing with private business in the import and export trade and all things profitable thus economic activity has been wrecked to a grinding halt.
Having conducted and won sham elections ever since his illegitimate ascension to power and condemned worldwide, he is at it again, old habits are hard to die. Confidential [ ] diplomatic cables continue to reveal sleaze, systemic abuse of power embodied in a criminal cartel network led by the president. With several European diplomats granted ‘persona non grata’ in recent years for daring to raise voice about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, ill treatment of prisoners, and lack of democratic space in the Gambia. The regime had been on life support being resuscitated through check-book diplomacy by TAIWAN with the Gambia supporting the Taiwanese case at the United Nations – that relationships has broken down, with CHINA, his next target of diplomatic prostitution. Someday history shall uncover the Gambian dictator has killed more innocent political opponents, perceived enemies and civilians than any leader in West Africa. However, with despotic and the scourge of neo-patrimonial leadership in Africa coming to an enthralling end, coupled with that continent’s politico-economic maturity and rise respectively; the few remaining dictators on the continent are finding uncanny ways of holding onto power. The recent debacle over the Burundi crisis at the AU has manifested plain for all to see.
The Gambia of today – a paranoid state syndrome has developed. I mean people do not trust one another anymore, with informants recruited within circles of the Army, Police, from street corners, village gatherings to institutions of learning. Purging of top ranking military offices and perceived enemies continue unchecked. The ruthless dictator has got to be stopped and the long suffering Gambian population is looking up to her closest and brightest allies for clues and answers; yet the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Senegal, and the African Union continue to remain SILENT. Civil society groups and diaspora Gambians are asking if the British Prime Minister is sufficiently briefed about the situation in BANJUL. Further still, has the deteriorating political space in that country granted audience at daily meetings at CABINET level? It is incumbent upon the British government to protect all its nationals (expats) and retirees living in the Gambia. Western Intelligence’ has directly linked the Gambian dictator to sponsoring terror within the periphery, and he shall always continue to act in wicked ways destabilising Senegal. It is about time the leadership in DAKAR speak up condemn him!
However curtailed, public opinion has it that the Gambian public are tired sick of Yaya Jammeh and his APRC party. Journalists with a passion for the truth refusing bribery by the regime languish in filthy jails, witch-hunt of the opposition and such political foes has begun in earnest. First, an executive directive ordering the arrest of so-called LGBT suspects; imposing death penalty for anyone giving or publishing false information about the president and his crony government; with several such legislative proposals in the pipeline. Then came the political-games of declaring the Gambia an Islamic-State. Intelligence has also uncovered that Jammeh plans to breach the constitution once more in a cunning plan of driving the opposition out of contest! It was rather troubling reading comments by the country’s information minister insulting opposition leaders as campaign season heats up. The opposition parties continue facing media blackouts from a biased national coverage (tv and radio) serving as mouth-piece of the regime; with democratic space getting narrower each election cycle embodied in a tainted Electoral Commission – ghost votes and voters became the norm!
Earlier this week the Governor of the Central Bank of the Gambia intimated that, ‘ the country’s gross international reserves have declined from US$161.1 million (5.0 months of imports) in 2013 to US$111.6 million (4.0 months of imports) in 2014, which has since declined to US$85.7 million (3.0 months of imports) by November 2015”. He further disclosed that the level of domestic debt is unsustainable, with the stock rising to D18.8 billion as of December 2014, from D13.5 billion in December 2013 – an annual increase of 38.7 percent. Addressing members of the economic committee, the governor concluded that, domestic debt stock stood at D22.6 billion in December 2015.” This confirms IMF reports that the Gambia’s domestic and external debt burden stood at 100% of GDP. Fellow Gambians – in real terms the country is drowning in debt with a major banking crisis looming. Less than a decade ago the country had benefited from debt relief under the ‘highly indebted poor countries (HIPC) wiping out the nation’s external debt burden. However, mismanagement of the public purse from an inept leadership continues to harm the country’s chances in the 21st Century and until and unless Yaya Jammeh’s dictatorial ways are brought to an abrupt end, the country and its long-suffering citizens shall continue to reel in misery.
Written By Gibril Saine, England.