Saturday, October 5, 2013

Jammeh accuses UDP of tribalism and a front for American and UK interests

The protests by Gambian dissidents in New York against Yaya Jammeh and his United Nations 68th General Assembly delegation continues to reverberate.  First, he announced that The Gambia has decided to withdraw the country's membership from the Commonwealth, and now he despatched his Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs to read a statement on national television accusing the United Democratic Party (UDP), the country's the single biggest opposition party, of being a front for U.S. oil interests.

 Yaya Jammeh's incoherent and rambling statement is full of unsubstantiated claims. For example, the statement claims that the online papers dedicated to opposition politics, and operated by exiled Gambians in the U.K. and U.S. are financed by their respective governments.  The statement further claimed that negotiations between government and foreign oil companies broke down after the government refused to agree to terms unfavorable to the Gambia resulting in the formation of the UDP with the help of the UK and US governments as a retaliatory measure.

According to the government statement, the UDP is to represent foreign oil interests should it gain political power.  What could be seen as a desperate move to stoke the fires of tribalism, the statement labeled the UDP as a Mandingo group that's out to seize power and to re-impose its political dominance.  Jammeh assures Gambians that the Mandingo tribe will never rule the Gambia again.  The problem with Jammeh's statement is that (a) he's from the smallest tribe in the Gambia and (b) the Mandingos form the single biggest voting block for his party.  Gambians and opposition parties are too smart to take the bait.

These provocative and highly incendiary statements, as silly as they may appear, are designed to instill fear in the population following Jammeh's humiliating treatment in the hands of a handful but determined group of Gambian dissidents that forced him to be a captive in his hotel suite for 48 hours, missing his official meetings in the process. It is also a calculated move by Jammeh to tie what they refer to as the "asylum scam" involving the UDP Treasurer accused of providing attestation to UDP supporters seeking asylum abroad to the entire UDP structure.  This is an attempt to discredit and possibly to decimate the UDP as a viable opposition.  All indications are that the accused was tortured to extract confessions before he was paraded before a national television audience.

Jammeh returned home last week to a political environment drastically different from the one he left just a few days before.   He cut his trip short only to be met at the airport by a small group of supporters which, according to sources, devastated the man who used to being greeted by large crowds while basking in pomp and pageantry of the ceremonial armed forces band interspersed with traditional dancers. All of this were missing for the first time in 19 years when he landed at Yundum from his flight from New York.  This was a reversal in political fortune that Jammeh is still unable to process much less accept.

Yaya Jammeh's rapidly dwindling political support has visibly transformed the once confident and pompous dictator into a confused and highly insecure individual.  It has finally dawned on him that power is slipping with few people, including members of the security forces ready and willing to lay their lives for a selfish and divisive figure like Jammeh .  This realization will lead him to more irrational behavior which will mark the end of his rule.  It is now only a matter of time.