On December 31st 2016 leaders throughout the world were addressing their people and stoking up their hopes for the New Year 2017 except the outgoing Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh, who in his infamous style poured venom of spite and hate on the Gambians, 60 per cent of whom did not vote for him in the December 1st elections which he lost, conceded so, only to make a miserable volte face a week later. I wish to share with you the following talking points as I know that in the coming days and weeks, you may be having the cause to write about, speak on the Gambian situation to the mass media, students and colleagues. Please feel free to use any of the points under listed.

  • Generally, no Gambian is surprised by Yayha Jammeh’s desperate attempt to cling to power: he has on numerous occasions told Gambians and the whole that he wished to rule for a billion years; that neither elections nor coups could remove from power or that Mandinkas will never rule The Gambia again etc. These utterances made at various times in various fora were simply laughed off by most people as the madcap antics of desperate despot. Now, he is trying to live up to his words even though the vast majority of Gambians, including people who had voted for him, and the entire international community have condemned his attempt to cling to power, congratulated the Incoming president Adama Barrow etc.
  • Gambians are the main victims of Jammeh’s dangerous brinkmanship and are also the perpetrators. For 22 years, Gambians have applauded Jammeh when he jailed people, dismissed them from their jobs, curtailed individual rights, closed media houses and harassed journalists. In 2012, he executed 12 people and the next week, dozens of Gambians paid a courtesy call on him to congratulate him on the executions. When he got up one day in 2015 and committed treason again by declaring The Gambia an Islamic State, people clapped for him. Two weeks earlier, when he insulted and threatened to massacre the Mandinka ethnic group, the crowd cheered him endlessly. The list is long. Gambians reared the Monster Jammeh and now we are at the receiving end of his madness.
  • In the past three weeks since his volte face, Gambians have suddenly become patriotic. In my 46 years, I have never seen Gambians so united in condemning any act as they have done to Jammeh’s refusal to accept his defeat. Since December 9 2016, all professional groups active in the country have condemned publicly his action. Students in all tertiary institutions including the University have done so. Once hidden and highly reticent groups such as Bankers association, Chartered accountants association, and hoteliers association have spoken against his volte face and asked him to hand over power on January 19 2017. Religious leaders, especially Imams and the Supreme Islamic Council, who for long were seen rightly as apologists of Jammeh have publicly commended President elect Barrow and asked Jammeh to give up power. Elected officials of Jammeh’s APRC including nearly 10 Area Councillors have publicly asked him to accept the verdict of the people. A political hastag: gambiahaschosen is viral and its tee-shirts and billboards have sprung up in the Greater Banjul Area. For the first time in 20 years private FM stations are broadcasting news other than government releases. At home, Jammeh is an isolated rat, highly humiliated and desperate for cover.
  • The international isolation and condemnation of Jammeh is more well known and thus need no elaboration here. Except to say that even the International Islamic Organization(OIC) which he had invited to observe the December 1 polls have given the vote a clean bill of health and have congratulated the president elect Barrow and have asked Jammeh to leave power. Russia, China, Turkey have also done so. All international organizations-AU, EU, ECOWAS etc have also done so unequivocally.
  • ECOWAS has threatened to use force if diplomacy fails to convince the despot to leave power. So far there are no signs to show that the diplomatic options have been exhausted. So the use of force remains a distant choice which no one wants to contemplate.
  • But it is also true that ECOWAS and Gambians must not go for a quick fix solution. Even if Jammeh were to be eased out peacefully, the rotten and highly tribalist structures he has created over the past two decades will be like a poisoned chalice for the incoming president Barrow. For example, what goes by the name of an army in The Gambia is nothing but a Jammeh private militia of henchmen from his Jola tribe. The vast majority of the officers and private soldiers are Jola. They are loyal to Jammeh’s (offerings) and not to The Gambia. They serve Jammeh as shepherds, farm hands, meat sellers, and as storm troopers and will therefore not be ready to obey Barrow’s orders. This is why seen from a more realistic and less passionate angle, a military intervention led by ECOWAS is a desideratum because it will lay the groundwork for a restructuring of this praetorian Jammeh milice which goes by the name Gambia National Army. ECOWAS must intervene militarily so that the new government will be able to dissolve the army, sections of the police and the entire intelligence apparatus as was done in Sierra Leone, (2000) Liberia (2005) and Ivory Coast(2011) so that Gambia can enjoy peace and stability. Therefore, Gambians must be ready for a period of uncertainty and possibly, containable upheaval so that we will be rid off the albatross of Jammeh and his If we cringe and opt for a soft landing through a quick solution, then it will not yet be Uhuru for us.
  • Already in his December 31st harangue, Jammeh is scaremongering; insinuating that he is not leaving power because if he does, the ‘soldiers will be fighting each other till the end of the world’. This may be true; but this is also one good reason why an ECOWAS military intervention is needed so that the military ogre will be taken care of once for all.
  • Jammeh’s days are definitely numbered. There is no way that he can steal the mandate of the people. He bad mouthed himself into defeat: in his election campaign, he kept on telling his followers that even if you do not vote for me, God will vote for me etc. Now, his supporters may have heard him well and did not bother to vote. He angered the Christian community with his stupid declaration of ‘Islamic Republic’ and alienated the majority Mandinka by his insults and threats of massacre. Thus he spoilt his own election campaign. He wrote his own political obituary. The IEC has done a great job which even he acknowledged. The Ministers he gave huge sums of money to campaign for him stole the money and in order to please him and save their necks told him lies about missing ballot boxes and turned away APRC voters. He latched onto these lies to try to annul the election he had conceded. Only 39.6 per cent of Gambians voted for him.
  • His volte face is explained by only one reason: Jammeh is scared of prison. He dreads accountability. The skeletons in his cupboards haunt him. He knows that he can never be a ‘former president of The Gambia’ living in blissful retirement. He has not earned that dignified status like his predecessor Jawara or Wade of Senegal.
  • Gambian heritage sites, including one UNESCO world heritage site, Fort Bullen in Barra across the river from Banjul, listed in 2003, are under direct occupation currently by Jammeh’s soldiers. Since December 2016, soldiers have turned the site into a garrison not only violating its integrity but also keeping tourist and their dollars away from the Fort, which houses a site museum on the slave trade.
  • The Gambia National Museum in Banjul which has a priceless collection of artefacts on Gambian history and culture dating to the 1800s shares the fence with State House where Jammeh is now bunkered and therefore may wish to take his last stand if he persist in his stubbornness. The museum is therefore a security zone and may be harmed in the event of a military confrontation.
  • The entire APRC petition is based on false report by Malang Saibo, the Deputy Governor CRR. He refused to give the attestations to APRC polling agents; he kept them at his desk deliberately so as to impress the president. That is why when APRC agents reported to the pollingstations, they were sent away as they had no attestation. In the end he had to move from polling station to another to represent the APRC. He wanted to gain promotion after an APRC victory by showing his boss, I did all the work. Now his lies are disturbing the whole country because Jammeh latched onto it to file his petition.
  • Written By Modou Faye 
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