Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years until 2011 when Egyptians got fed up with him and forced him out of office in a popular uprising. In June 2012, Muhammad Morsi was sworn into office as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Barely one year in office, Egyptians were back in Tahrir Square demonstrating against Morsi. As the voices of Egyptian disunity got unbearably loud combined with a downturn of the economy, social cohesion and national security, the military intervened, kicked out Morsi and in came General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as President of Egypt.
Like the Egyptians, majority of Gambians have had enough of their president who has been in power for 22 years and working forward to be reelected at the end of this year for another five year term in office. In fact some people are so fed up with Jammeh and have so little or no faith in the electoral process that they are calling for the removal of Jammeh by means other than elections. Anything from an Arab spring/Burkinabe type of uprising, or a military coup, or even the impossible intervention of the Senegalese military to kick Jammeh out is preferable to going to elections. If this group of people had access to the Angel of Death himself (aka Malaikal Maut), I am sure they would have pleaded with him to pay Jammeh an untimely visit.
The political situation of the Gambia is indeed precarious and it is easy to figure out why a lot of people have lost faith in the ballot box as a means to a peaceful and positive change. For instance we are six months away from the presidential elections and the political field is still highly contaminated and heavily skewed in favour of Jammeh. And with exactly one month left for the deadline for electoral reforms, there is absulutely no chance on earth that Yahya Jammeh will succumb to electoral reforms as it tantamount to committing political suicide. And to insulate himself even further, Jammeh is dividing and frustrating the idea of an alliance of political parties by using such tricks as the current ongoing scam trial of the UDP leadership. This is mainly due to his well-founded fear that an alliance will not only nullify the intent and purpose of his bad electoral laws but that would clearly lead to his downfall in the December polls.
In spite of all this seeming complicated and myriad tapestry off gloom and confusion, it is important to keep cool heads in order to see through the smoke and focus on the ball/goalpost. In this regards, an important question that I would like to ask my readers is that if Jammeh should suddenly and unceremonious leave power (let’s say through an uprising and before the presidential elections in December), what do you people think is most likely to happen to the office of the president? Is it not possible that The Gambia will follow the example of Egypt leading to the military to take over the leadership of the country?
My opinion is that there is a a strong possibility for that to happen. The reason for my position is that if our opposition leaders cannot agree on a coalition flag-bearer in the face of so much adversity from Jammeh and so much pressure from the Gambian people, then they will not agree on an interim leader in the unlikely situation that Jammeh leaves power unceremoniously. Like the Egyptians, our divergent voices of disunity will be so unbearably loud and our opposition leaders/parties will turn against each other and fight so badly that the military will be forced to intervene and take over the leadership of the country.
As one of those Gambians who also maintain that Jammeh has indeed overstayed in power and must leave office, and also as an advocate of peace and security and a firm believer in the power of the ballot box, I believe that the unity of our opposition leaders by forming an alliance and rallying their support and loyalty behind one and only one coalition flag-bearer will serve two purpose. The first advantage is that there will be only one candidate to run against Jammeh in the very likely event that all this ends up in the polls and secondly in the unlike event that Jammeh disappears in thin smoke, there will be already an identified interim leader to hold the reins of power as The Gambia goes through its series of much needed reforms to prepare it for a viable transition to a democracy.
By now a flag-bearer should have been long identified and all parties should have been out on the ground in full force in galvanizing support and votes for that candidate. And must important of all, such a coalition should have long come up with a sound electoral campaign approach or policy on how to engage with the security sector as well as the government civil service in order to win their support in the December polls. In my opinion, the development of a sound security sector governance strategy should be one of the most important priorities of any leader who is aspiring to take over from Jammeh. Without winning the hearts, minds and confidence of our gallant and patriotic men and women in uniform, the Gambia could be in a long political merry-go-round process!!!!
Long live the Republic of The Gambia, long live our peace, security and harmonious co-existence.
Written Lamin Gano