Friday, September 27, 2013

Bullies are cowards and Jammeh's no exception

The embarrassing display of cowardice by the Gambian dictator in New York City in the past several days by succumming to the will of a small but determined group of Gambian dissidents is further proof that human rights abusers of the ilk of Yaya Jammeh are generally cowards who prey on the weak and defenceless civilian population.

To be holed up in his luxurious hotel room with his entourage for over a day when his counterparts and hotel mates from Nigeria and South Africa were out and about taking care of their citizens' business at the United Nations is further evidence of Jammeh's irresponsibility and contempt for The Gambia and the Gambian people.

For someone who claims to be the leader of all Gambians, and yet afraid to confront protesters turned tormentors out of frustration because of Jammeh's refusal to meet them face-to-face, reveals the character of the former army lieutenant.  He spends millions of dollars of Gambian taxpayers money to attend the U.N. General Assembly with his wife and hangers-on in tow only to be a willing captive of a handful of Gambian dissidents - dissidents who have been victims of his vicious and corrupt regime.

Jammeh's decision to attend the General Assembly was as much an act of defiance as it was a public display of contempt for the Gambian people.  It was a public statement that dares Gambians, especially the security forces, to act inappropriately while he was away.  Instead, the protesters in front of his hotel dared him to step out to face the music by answering the chants of oppression and human rights abuses that characterized  his 19-year rule. He blinked, and in the process exposes his underbelly for the rest of the world to see, particularly the security establishment he left behind in Banjul.

What happened at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City is significant in that it draws international attention to the plight of Gambians at the most inopportune moment for Jammeh.  Most importantly however, his cowardly behavior took place in full view of two of his most powerful colleagues in Africa - President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.  Indeed, according to reports, the South African President nodded in acknowledgement ( and, perhaps, tacit approval ) of the Gambian protesters. Members of Zuma's delegation reportedly took pictures of the protesters and their protests signs.  There is little doubt that the two African Presidents will chat about the incident, especially since there is no love lost between the two and Jammeh, especially President Jonathan.

At home, the incident will reverberate is some quarters of the security establishment.  Whether it will lead to a preemptive action remains to be seen.  To see the guy who only a couple of weeks ago was seen touring flood-stricken Banjul, and the Kombos in army fatigues and taunting his enemies, in such a predicament further exposes the myth that is Yaya Jammeh.  If he can be holed up for over 24 hours as a result of the actions of a handful of Gambians, it sends a message that is contrary to the persona of invincibility he has cultivated so successfully for nearly two decades. The members of his entourage whose role it is to get their boss out of the pickle should he land in one instead made matters worse by exposing their ignorance of America's strong democratic tradition by engaging in a shouting match with the protesters, and objecting to being photographed.  When the tables are turned, the proven serial torturers and murderers of ordinary and defenceless Gambians cry foul.  They remind me of the guy who killed his parents and then turned around looking for sympathy for being an orphan.