Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Some lessons from Gambia's presidential elections

Sidi Sanneh 
The Gambia, a sliver of a country that was never given a chance to survive as a country at independence in 1965 because of its size, geography and lack of natural resource endowment that earned it the title of the improbable nation, has, once again, defied political convention by removing an entrenched dictatorship through the ballot box.

President Yaya Jammeh whose ruled the smallest country on the African continent inherited a reasonably well-managed economy whose per capita GDP was the third highest in the 16-Member regional body known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in July 1994.

Once the dictatorship took control of the country, the economy became one of the victims of a regime that never allowed the market mechanisms to operate freely, resulting in market, as well as budget dislocations resulting in slow economic growth and development.  An economy that was once at near the top of the ECOWAS table was relegated to the bottom.  The incidence of poverty, particularly rural poverty steady rose over time, agricultural production and receipts from tourism declined.  Unemployment, especially youth unemployment rose to alarming rates, contributing, in part, to the mass exodus of young Gambians to Europe, making Gambia a major exporter of human capital.  In the first ten months this year alone, 10,000 Gambians have made their way into Europe.

The failure of the Gambian leader to make good on his promise to the youth and women - two important demographics - is among the reasons for Jammeh's unexpected defeat.  The confiscation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of expression and association of, coupled with the harsh human rights environment that saw thousands of Gambians and non-Gambians alike tortured, killed, maimed, exiled, extra-judicially executed and falsely imprisoned led to a massive shift in support for the ruling party that led to the the victory of a real estate developer with on government or any public service experience named Adama Barrow.  He led a seven-party coalition and an independent candidate for the presidency which contributed immensely to the defeat of the incumbent dictator.

The multi-party coalition comprising of all of the functioning parties is a fete made possible by public demands of voters who see it as the only way of providing a credible challenge to a despot who has the advantage of incumbency with state assets and the public treasury at his disposal.

Despite the built-in advantages of incumbency, Jammeh was surprised by the vast resources that was put at the disposal of the coalition candidate by Gambians in the Diaspora that included online fund raisers, online radio and television publicity campaign using a multiplicity of social media platforms that dispersed campaign information to all corners of the country.

All forms of social media platforms were employed by Gambians living abroad (mainly in the United State, Canada, Europe and Africa)  to penetrate the Gambian hinterland that was starved of information about a regime that meticulously and routinely concealed information from the population.  Social media played a critical role in penetrating the wall that shielded the population from the human rights abuses, rampant corruption and the ineptitude of a tyrannical regime that finally succumbed to the will of the Gambian people through the ballot box.  In other words, when the veil dropped, the nakedness of the emperor was exposed.            

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jammeh is poised to implement a staged coup d'etat against the newly elected Gambian President

Jammeh in coup posture
The Gambian dictator who suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a real estate agent named Adama Barrow, is reportedly at this moment planning to put into action Plan B that involves a staged coup d'etat that, he hope. will restore him to power.

Since he accepted the results of the elections of last Thursday which saw him losing with 40% of the vote to Mr. Barrow.s 43% and before he conceded the following day, Yaya Jammeh has been under tremendous pressure from the military brass and party militants to reverse the verdict of the Gambian people.

The top military brass that are in on the plan to subvert the will of the people are General Saul Badgie and Brigadier Generals Umpa Mendy stationed as State House (where they are currently meeting) Borra Colley and Musa Savage who are stationed at Kanilai.  All felt betrayed by Jammeh when he conceded defeat and they have been demanding that Jammeh reverse the decision of the Gambian voters - a move fraught with danger and uncertainty because how the Gambian voters and ordinary citizens will react to will amount to a slap in the face.

How the European Union and the Obama administration will react to the first electoral loss of a brutal dictatorial regime through the ballot box without a drop of blood being shed is equally uncertain. Ousman Badgie the country's Chief of Defense Staff and Yankuba Sonko the Inspector General of Police appear to be isolated and excluded from the planning of the plot of a staged coup attempt.

The civilian supporters and party militants of the former ruling party have joined the illegal plot to subvert the will of the Gambian people.  Included in this group of subversives are Pierre Minteh  welfare officer the Washington DC Gambian Embassy, Seedy Njie, Babou Gaye Sonko and Papa Litty Nyang all members of the National Assembly,  Samsudeen Sarr of the Gambian Mission at the United Nation, Foday Chorr of the UK and numerous others.

As the party militants plan to demonstrate in support of restoring Jammeh to power, Plan B was being put into effect is the evacuation of Jammeh's family.  According to sources, anyone of the Kanilai household with a valid visa is scheduled to join former First Lady Zainab Suma Jammeh,  her son Muhammed Jammeh and her sister.  They are scheduled to depart for the United States, Sunday evening but not before the official plane which should have been at the disposal of the President-elect laden with their personal effects of bank notes, jewelry and other valuables.  The Central Bank and the government-controlled Trust Bank are expected to be looted by the Jammeh family on their escape to the United States.

The departure of Zainab Jammeh and her entourage Sunday evening under the cover of darkness and a Jammeh-imposed curfew, will signal the beginning of the implementation of Plan B in an attempt to reverse the verdict of the December 1st presidential elections which was won fair and square by Hon. Adama Barrow.   The exact date when the plot will actually start to unfold is unknown at this stage but we will continue to cover it as a developing story.


Friday, December 2, 2016

It is not business as usual: Jammeh must go

Voters lining up to vote Jammeh out of office
It makes us wonder why Yaya Jammeh who has harassed, jailed, tortured, maimed, assassinated and make journalists to disappear without trace is allowed the luxury of staying in The Gambia one more day without him spending the night in the 5-Star Hotel he made famous during his disastrous 22-year dictatorship.

We have always stood for reconciliation without which the wounds of the nation will never heal.  For this reason we have advocated for a True and Reconciliation Commission to be constituted for the country, its citizens to confront their tormentors of 22 years to speak the truth about their victims and to admit guilty by taking full responsibility for their actions.

Families of Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, two Gambian-Americans who disappeared while visiting their country deserve to know what happened to their loved ones.  Only the truth shall bring closure to these and numerous others families whose loved ones were tortured, murdered and raped by Yaya Jammeh soldiers and security personnel - some of whom are still in the service of the Gambia Government.

Gambians have suffered at the hands of Yaya Jammeh to allow him continue to stay and meddle in the affairs of state.   This man has been a security threat to the country and to the region while president and will pose similar threat, especially to a young and transitional government with weak institutions - thanks to Yaya - outside of government.  In fact, he will menace the state by meddling in its affairs thus posing serious threat to public safety.  Jammeh must proceed on exile. Senegal is an option.  Morocco is another option.  But he must leave The Gambia for his own good and for the good of the country.

Almost a third of the entire Gambian population stood in line for hours to cast their vote that rejected everything Jammeh represents.  To allow him to stay will not only expose the state to the dangers posed by this man but it means stepping on the message of repudiation of dictatorships everywhere.   Gambians have demonstrated that African dictators, even those as brutal as Yaya Jammeh can be deposed democratically.  We run the risk of diluting or stepping on a message that is barely 24 hours old.  It will be the gravest error of the transition government if Jammeh is allowed to stay in the Gambia one more day.  He must leave voluntarily or be deported to a country of his choice.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Adama Barrow expected to trounce Jammeh in Brikama, army is expected to move into the town

Expecting a huge margin of victory for Adama Barrow of the opposition Coalition in Brikama, the military command has decided to deploy armed military personnel in and around the town.  A huge military presence can also be seen in the IEC office complex.

Barrow's margin of victory is expected to be huge given the fact that he filled three ballot boxes in a town that has a combined vote total of over 60,000 registered voters of Brikama North and Brikama South Constituencies.  It is believed that there will be some trouble if Adama Barrow is declared the winner.

Meanwhile, preparations are already on the way in Banjul to celebrate the victory of Barrow over Jammeh.  By contrast, the Ministers and other high government officials invited to what was expected to be a celebratory event slowly turned into somber mood as it start to become evident that the dictator has been rejected by the very country he was determined to rule for a billion years.

Up-Date :  We will continue to stay on Yaya Jammeh's case for as long as it takes. My promise to my children and grandchildren and to my readers as well  

Jammeh on verge of losing the elections bid for a 5th term as president

Chairman of IEC, Alieu Mamar Njie 
Yaya Jammeh is on the verge of losing his bid for a 5th term as president of The Republic of The Gambia based on accounts of our sources. And Jammeh knows he's losing.  

Polls have closed in the Gambia some eight hours ago and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has only manage to release results in only 9 of 53 constituencies. At this rate, it will take 3 more days to get all the constituencies counted and announced to the public.

It must be noted that the remaining constituencies in the urban and peri-urban areas of the country are the biggest with roughly about 40% of the entire voting population.

We have reported earlier this evening that the Chairman of the IEC is under tremendous pressure from the Gambian dictator with constant phone calls to him which he takes in his private office.

What is being said to him is unclear.  What is clear is that Jammeh feels humiliated that the results released thus far are embarrassingly low for a dictator who has outspent the opposition by 50:1 if not more.   Those close to the State House have disclosed that he feels personally "insulted" by the people of the capital city of Banjul by resoundingly voting for Adama Barrow and has promised, according to the same source, "to deal with Banjulians".  But first, he must deal with the electoral onslaught that Gambians are witnessing.

Jammeh must have seen the writing on the wall because he quietly evacuated his Moroccan wife and children on a commercial flight to France via Brussels which suggests that the decision was abrupt after gauging the Mrs. Zainab Jammeh never travels commercial.  Charter flight is her preference, There is also usual movement of state-owned assets that suggests that Jammeh is prepared to make a major move.  We will continue to monitor developments.

Of the nine constituencies that has been announced, the opposition Coalition candidate won 4 of the 9 or 46% of the vote for 35% for Jammeh and Mamma Kandeh with 19%.  

The trend line favors Adama Barrow and many observers of Gambian politics will agree that Jammeh has lost his 5th attempt at being president.  He must prepare to hand over power peacefully to Adama Barrow.

Up-Dates :  We will continue to follow developments and report as and when new information of significance emerges.

Jammeh is losing to Barrow, IEC returning officers fear for their lives, sources close to IEC say

Jammeh with guards in 2011 presidential elections 
A source close to the Independent Electoral Commission has just informed us that there is an atmosphere of uneasiness at the IEC offices because of the unfavorable numbers (to Jammeh) that have started to coming in from the field after the polls closed an hour and a half ago.

As the votes start rolling in, the pattern is clear that Adama Barrow is leading Jammeh by a wide margin.  The pattern has been evident from the start of voting this morning that the seven-party Coalition led by Adama Barrow is leading Jammeh.

The dilemma facing the Electoral Commission is if they announce the real results that will undoubtedly favor the Coalition, a section of the army led by Chief of Defense Staff, General Ousman Badgie men attack members of the IEC and supporters of the Coalition of opposition parties.  Alternatively, any announcement contrary to what the results show will pose an equally daunting challenge of having to defend a result that is against the will of the Gambian people.    

More information is being received from sources intimate with Independent Electoral Commission that many of the Commission's Returning Officers fear for their lives because of the figures are clearly in favor of Adama Barrow. and against Yaya Jammeh who is being resoundingly rejected by the Gambian people.

UP-DATES -  We will continue to bring you the latest development as and when they happen.

Massive voter turnout despite nationwide lock-down

Gambian voters lining up t cast ballot in presidential elections
The Gambia is a country on edge.  Its mercurial dictator who has ruled this sliver of a country in the belly of Senegal with an iron fist for 22 years is facing his biggest challenge yet at the polls not because majority of voters.

Voters are turn out in their numbers to vote for the candidate of their choice.  According to a source, an eyewitness confirm that "in Sukuta" the ballot box (drum) of Adama Barrow, the Coalition candidate was full to the brim and a new box had to be brought in.  A similar scenario is playing out in Baddibu according to reports from MamaLinguere Facebook page.

Jammeh may be facing his toughest test yet but Alieu Mamar Njie, the Chairman of the so-called Independent Electoral Commission is facing an equally daunting task of having to stay above the fray by defying the commands and directives of the Gambian dictator to rig the election results which by many sources, including internal assessments of the conditions in the field, have all but officially declared the Coalition candidate, Adama Barrow, the winner.

A source close to the IEC is reporting that the dilemma facing members of the IEC is that the day that the nominations were held, Yaya Jammeh, gave close to $ 500,000 to members of the Commission.  It is unclear to whom the money was delivered, its purpose or purposes and the beneficiaries.  The fact that Jammeh has been privately financing the operations of the IEC is not a secret.  He has admitted so publicly and as recently as last month in front of television cameras during his filing his nomination papers.

The voluminous voting trend in the Great Banjul Area which the most urbanized part of the country with a third of the voters suggests that Adama Barrow will win handsomely.  The question now is whether the IEC will go the right thing and declare the true vote count.  The world continues to watch as the polls are about to close without any significant incident.  But again, this is just the beginning of what will prove to be a long night.

UP-DATES :  We intend to bring you untainted up-dates throughout the night.  It will be a challenge given the lock-down and black-out Jammeh has plunge the country into.  But as we kept reminding him, the world is watching.