Yahya Jammeh’s grand finale – can Ecowas leaders pull him back from the brink?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2016

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama are in Banjul – the capital of The Gambia today, Tuesday, 13th December 2016, to persuade Jammeh to accept the results of the presidential election and stand down unconditionally.

Gambia’s president Jammeh is a man unknown for doing things in half measures. He is more than an extrovert. He loves power and cannot stomach the thought of not being in control of the Gambia.

He is a larger than life character who strongly believes that one day the whole world will come knocking at his door begging for something that only he has the power to provide – well – after God that is.

When he claimed several years ago to have found a cure for Aids, no one came knocking. Instead, many thought he was mad. He was not amused.

He then quickly turned his spiritual vocation around by practicing exorcism on young women. He has his fans, many of whom are political sycophants and poor tribesmen and women, who rely on him to put food on their table.

When he lampooned and threatened western nations for supporting civil rights organisations in the country, he was dismissed as a deranged despot.

But if his decision to allow a relatively free and fair elections two weeks ago was just a bait thrown at the opposition and those he regards as enemies of the state – giving them false sense of security and comfort, then he has now got the world knocking at his door.

After losing the presidential election and conceding defeat, many would say that Jammeh was simply playing up to the world gallery. Jammeh has no intention of leaving office.

What Jammeh now has, are the names, pictures and voices of the opposition calling for his arrest and trial for crimes ranging from corruption, abuse of power, and murder.

Jammeh’s final game plan now is simple – to hang on to power by any means necessary.

There is too much at stake, if he relinquishes power – including his very survival. He needs to stay on in some capacity. As he told his successor Adama in his acceptance statement – ‘I will be available to give advice’.

But Jammeh knows that by staying on as president, he will not be able to attract much needed foreign investments.

The Gambian economy is collapsing. Revenue from tourism is declining, as European tourists stay away.

Large swathes of industry have remained closed for several years, as foreign owners packed up and left.

After twenty two years of wielding absolute power, Jammeh is now faced with the possibility of those he had tortured calling the shots. Should he stay or should he go quietly?

What is so shockingly surreal is that, rather than regarding the arrival of West African leaders in The Gambia as a first attempt by the world to pull him back from the brink, his alter ego is getting the better of him.

With renewed swagger and invigorated spring in his step, Jammeh is dangerously deluding himself that at long last, he has now got the world at his feet begging for something that only he can give Gambians – peace.

With Jammeh refusing to go quietly, not only is he risking plunging The Gambia into war, he is moving closer to either facing judgement day in the Hague or writing his own death wish.

He should perhaps give Gbagbo a call and ask for his advice, as to how not to go against the will of the people. (Photo: Mrs Gbagbo being humiliated by opposition forces when fighting broke out in the Ivory Coast). 

Jammeh may be staging his final grandstanding, but he ought to be reminded of the heavy responsibility that now hangs on his broad shoulders. Should the Gambia descend into chaos and violence, he will face justice and be held to account.

An international military coalition, led by African Union troops will intervene to protect the Gambian people. Jammeh now has clear choices to make, while enjoying his final grand standing as the president that was destined to rule the Gambia for ever – well “until God says enough is enough”.

Will president Koroma and his fellow heads of State from Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana, pull Jammeh back from the brink?

3 Comments

  1. Yahya Jammeh might have done a good job during his presidency in the Gambia carried out development projects of which the Gambians are proud of. But does this service rendered to the nation from a privilege position means the reason for claiming ownership of the country and no one else can rule the Gambia but him?

    Yahya Jammeh is hampering the normal development of the democratic system in the country and must reconsider his attitude and give way to the winner of the presidential elections for the good of the country.

    Creating a stumbling block in the transition process to the legitimate winner of whom the majority of the Gambian people have expressed their will, is provocative and likely to ignite a social backlash, throwing his entire good job into the plughole with unpredictable consequences.

  2. Its good to learn that some West African leaders of ECOWAS, including my president Ernest Bai Koroma are visiting the West African smiling coast of The Gambia this week.

    Can I just say categorically they are making the trip for the wrong reason, but just a pleasurable sightseeing to observe how Jammeh has transformed The Gambia from the gallows of unthinkable poverty since he took power in 1994.

    The reason stated why they are going – to convince Yahya Jemmeh to accept general election defeat and leave quietly is a very good idea. But there is no need to think of this type of talk and visit purposely, because Yahya Jammeh has already said this through a telephone conversation with Mr. Adama Barrow and to the hearing of the whole world, the President elect.

    So what more do they want Mr. Jammeh to have done with regards to civilised politics? Is it because it is in an African political atmosphere?

    Why did they not go to Barack Obama in the USA for the same purpose? Let me say it here categorically that Mr. Yahya Jammeh has nothing ugly for The Gambia, but the best and utmost love a citizen might have for his country.

    During the six years I spent in the Gambia (1997-2004) under the leadership of Mr. Jammeh, I was able to learn a lot about genuine state leadership that makes a difference in Africa and wish for the day we’ll have this type of leader in our country, Sierra Leone.

    In fact, “Mr. Yahya Jammeh was not only the president of The Gambia but the president of Africa, including Sierra Leone”. This was evident in the Sierra Leone civil war (1991-2002). Yahya Jammeh opened the doors of The Gambia for Sierra Leoneans into protection which some of us will never forget. This is the war that was caused by the APC government under the drunkard and womanising president Joseph Saidu Momoh and we will never uncover this in the history of West Africa.

    Those who visited The Gambia before Yahya Jammeh’s bloodless coup will feel free to compare the Yundung International Airport, the motor road infrastructural networks, the number of school buildings in different places around The Gambia, the communication network of The Gambia Radio and Television (GRTS) service, the establishment of the university extension programme with the University of Halifax in Canada that emerged into the establishment of the University of The Gambia and the introduction of the free education for girls in The Gambia; with the current stage to decide.

    What I expected to have heard about the leaders visit to The Gambia, was to talk to Yahya Jammeh about how he will continue to work with the new president about continuation of the developments he has already started for The Gambia, because “The Gambia’s progress is Africa’s progress”.

    Let me qualify my comment that staying in power in a political situation, especially in an African country for 22 years is not a good example of a political democracy in the world today. But sometimes when doing good, even in such a political capacity, one sometimes get away off on tract, which is what happened to Yahya Jammeh and it is good that he was called to attention to have a break. Otherwise, Yahya Jammeh will ever remain to be remembered as a good president of The Gambia.

    Yahya Jammeh is leaving though, but the politics of The Gambia will ever remain to remember him as the leader who introduced many developments for all and he should me awarded a “Statesmanship” and to enforce a good working relationship with Adama Barrow.

    If at all it is possible to have Yahya Jammeh on a consultancy basis to shape up the politics of Sierra Leone, let him apply so that we will give him a solid contract.

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