Crisis in The Gambia – ECOWAS must take note – You break it, you own it

Saad Barrie

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 January 2017

I have never been a fan of President Yayah Jammeh and wouldn’t lose sleep over his fate. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must however be warned that “regime change” is a serious business. Going in is the easy part. But getting out is an art.

The ‘pottery barn’ rule applies. The so-called pottery barn rule was General Colin Powell’s warning to President Gorge W. Bush as he went into Iraq: “You break it, you own it”. Time proved him right.  The European powers, France and UK too, learnt that lesson in Libya.

I hope ECOWAS might have learnt an expensive lesson from its own experience in Sierra Leone in March 1998.

President Kabba’s reinstatement in March 1998, was the antecedent to the January 6, 1999 invasion of Freetown, by the murderous Armed Forces Revolutionary Ruling Council (AFRC) regime they removed to reinstate him.

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Senseless killing of a fourteen year old boy on the streets of Freetown by teenagers

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 January 2017

Police in Freetown are investigating the alleged beating to death of a teenage school boy in the village of Gloucester in the capital Freetown, on the 10th of January, 2017.

According to reports, three teenage school boys believed to be known to the deceased are suspected of the brutal murder of the school boy in cold blood.

The beating is said to have taken place over an alleged stolen item, valued at less than five dollars ($5).

Two of the suspected teenage murderers, Daniel aged 14 years and Senesie aged 16 years, have been arrested and are in police custody. The third school boy named Abdulai, also aged 16 years, is now on the run.

Unofficial report says that the boy was forcibly taken to a woodland area near Leicester, where he was tied and beaten, and his  lifeless body was then dumped in his Gloucester neighborhood.

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Maada Bio calls for dialogue with opposition SLPP Alliance

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 January 2017

Presidential and general elections in Sierra Leone are less than fifteen months away. Yet the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is far from being ready to contest those elections, let alone position itself as a government in waiting, despite the popularity of the ruling All People’s Congress Party (APC) now at rock bottom. (Photo: John Benjamin and Maada Bio).

Since its catastrophic defeat at the polls by the incumbent APC in 2012 and at almost every by-election held since then, the Sierra Leone People’s Party has fast become a shadow of its former self, torn by infighting, indiscipline and lack of strong leadership.

But it is the fight for the party’s presidential candidacy for the 2018 elections by no fewer than eight strongly willed contenders – including Julius Maada Bio, that has now become the fast moving torpedo that is about to sink the SLPP ship.

Even those elected by the party’s rank and file at their last national convention to manage the affairs of the party, and maintain order and discipline, are being hounded out of office by a faction believed to be loyal to the 2012 presidential candidate Julius Maada Bio.

Bio has been accused by many of destabilising and dividing the party – a charge he and his campaign team have continuously denied.

What is not in dispute however, is the polarising effect of Maada Bio’s military approach to leadership, which is not based on consensus building – but the command and control of those loyal to his cause – to become president of Sierra Leone at all cost.

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A turning point for The Gambia – the smiling face of Africa?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 January 2017

President Jammeh has less than a week to either make a final stand against the democratic wish of his people, or step down gracefully to allow the newly elected Adama Barrow (Photo) to take over the running of the country.

Today as Gambians wait in hope for a peaceful political transition, they are bracing themselves for the mayhem and chaos that could be unleashed by troops and tribal militia loyal to president Jammeh.

Will Jammeh confound his critics, who say that he is a megalomaniac control freak, who sees himself as the one that has been ordained by God to deliver peace and prosperity to the people of The Gambia?

Only Jammeh can answer this question, and on the 19th of January, 2017, the people of the Gambia and indeed the world, will get their answer.

Writing for the, Sophie Gallop discuss the uncertainties ahead for The Gambia and prospects for peace. This is what she says.

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Sierra Leone opposition SLPP crisis cannot be good for Sierra Leone’s national security

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 January 2017 

Recent disturbing events in the internal affairs of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party – the SLPP, culminating two days ago in the alleged shooting of a party supporter outside the High Court in Freetown, continue to threaten the party’s fragile existence.

Many in Sierra Leone are now concluding that the violence and chaos witnessed in the SLPP, could have profound consequences for the country’s national security if the leaders of the party do not resolve their differences peacefully and quickly.

But while some party activists are saying that the party is doing its best in reconciling differences among its rank and file members and leadership, it is the role of the ruling APC in destabilising the SLPP that has attracted much suspicion.

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph from Freetown yesterday under anonymity, a leading contender for the presidential candidacy of the SLPP, accused president Koroma and his ruling APC of covertly meddling in the internal affairs of the SLPP.

He accused the APC of sponsoring some of the factions that are causing chaos in the opposition SLPP.

“This cannot be good for our democracy in this country. The ruling APC may be celebrating its success in undermining and destabilising our party, but this cannot be good for Sierra Leone’s national security,” he told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

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SLPP UK Ireland executives call for peace and unity in the Sierra Leone People’s Party

SLPP UK and Ireland Branch Secretariat

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 January 2017

Following the recent and persistent spate of gross indiscipline and wanton insubordination, culminating in the political infamy of 17th December 2016, we, the bona–fide members of the SLPP United Kingdom and Ireland Region wish it be known by the wider party membership and general public, that we unreservedly abhor, utterly detest and shall vigorously resist the un-party, undemocratic and illegitimate actions and decisions of malevolent vested interests in the SLPP body politic.

We remain deeply troubled and appalled by the unbridled personal political ambitions of some at the expense of the overarching long-term best interests of our dear party – the SLPP.

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Sierra Leone president Koroma in Israel – but can he serve two masters?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 January 2017

President Koroma has made his first visit to Israel since becoming president in 2007, and in less than fifteen months before leaving office. (Photo: Courtesy of epa).

His visit to Israel is as symbolic as it is historic. But policy analysts are questioning why after just one month of returning from a working visit to China to strengthen economic, security, and bilateral relations with the Chinese, president Koroma has now headed to Israel in search of that which he has been promised by the Chinese – cash, security, investments, and technical expertise.

Sierra Leone’s economy is in dire straits, and the Koroma government is in need of cash to pay salaries and run public services. So, every little help from anywhere, would be welcomed.

Since his election in 2007, the ruling APC party has not only strengthened its political relationship with China, but has strongly promoted the interests of the Chinese, including their ‘One China policy’ as well as their claims to territorial islands across the South China Sea.

And in return for the ruling party’s loyal friendship with China, last month the Chinese rewarded president Koroma with millions of dollars in cancelled debts, and promise of more investments in Sierra Leone’s industries, health, education and security.

So why turn now to Israel?

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