Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jammeh must resign or be removed

The humiliating treatment Yaya Jammeh received at the hands of a handful of Gambian dissidents while attending this year's UN General Assembly meetings, coupled with his poor human rights record and the unprecedented level of corruption in high places, demand that Jammeh resigns from office or be removed.  He has lost legitimacy and the moral authority to occupy the highest office in the land. The New York protests were the culmination of a string events leading to a climax that has reverberated across The Gambia, as I write.  Jammeh's humiliation at the hands of a handful of determined dissidents is the subject of discussion in many parts of the country.  The many Gambians who have been brutalized and terrorized into submission by a brutal dictatorship must be very happy and proud of those Gambians in New York willing to stand up to the bully and the coward that is Yaya Jammeh.

His New York treatment is the tipping point.   Jammeh has committed offences that warrant his impeachment but because, like the other branches of Government, the Legislature is under the direct control of Jammeh he will not be impeached by the National Assembly.   Jammeh controls the majority party, and the nomination process that selects candidates for election to the once august body.  Members of the Assembly are, therefore, answerable to the dictator and not the constituents that elect them.  Members are expelled from the party for infractions deemed detrimental to the party.  The party leader, Jammeh, has also been given the extraordinary power to expel members  from the People's House by the stroke of the pen, nullifying the will of an entire constituency.  His dictatorial powers have been extended to the National Assembly, as well as the Judiciary.  Therefore, he has absolute power of Gambians.

This blog has written extensively on the hugely destructive economic policies of the Jammeh regime.  The mismanagement of the economy that was once among the best managed in Africa is a matter of public record, and extensively reported on by respected institutions and aid agencies like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Union.  The poor human rights record is also well documented by both international and regional bodies ranging from the Annual U.S. State Department Human Rights Report, Amnesty International and the economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Since Jammeh seized power in 1994, there are more poor Gambians today than 19 years ago.

Jammeh's victims of his incompetent and corrupt management style have extended beyond the general population and local communities, particularly the rural communities, to include the business community as well.  As the leading player and most active in the private sector, Jammeh has managed to dominate the private sector to such an extent that real and perceived competitors are punished either through the tax code or the use of brute force. His business interests ranges from manufacturing to transportation and retail trade, transcending all critical sectors of the economy, include strategic sectors like ITC sub-sector.  His interference in the markets, especially in the foreign exchange market, has been so blatantly displayed through the issuance of administrative fiats from the Office of the President that it resulted in a strongly-worded cautionary note from the International Monetary Fund urging Jammeh to refrain from such future interferences.  Jammeh has little or no time to govern because of the time devoted to running his personal affairs.

As I write this piece, I am being informed that Jammeh was shown of GRTS television arriving at Yundum Airport.  The mood was somber and the crowd unimpressive.  I think that this is the turning point in a very long and sad history that has seen many Gambians killed, maimed, tortured, imprisoned and exiled.  The Gambian people have shown Jammeh and his regime that it is time for them to go, to allow for a peaceful transition to civilian rule.  (There's nothing civilian about the Jammeh regime.)  He has lost the moral authority to continue to rule The Gambia.  Jammeh must go.