Monday, April 21, 2014

Farmer's Tour - Updates

Prince Sankanu
Contrary to his official tour itinerary which gives the impression that he his out visiting only rice fields, Jammeh has been spending a great deal of time politicking in the nooks and crannies of the Niumis, Badibbous and the MID where he spent 2 days each, and as our source observed, "trying to win confidence of the populace."

He realizes that he's taken Gambians for granted for far too long, and has lost significant support in the past year because of his neglect to some, and mismanagement to others, of the economy.  The failure of the groundnut buying season is playing a key role in this tour.

Our source is reporting that he's been told that it was while in Farafenni which is close to the border that Jammeh felt insecure and decreed that the borders be closed.  This reason for the border closure is not a very plausible explanation because, if he is insecure in a military camp where else on earth would he feel secure.  If he still feels insecure with his own, then spend the night in Jenoi with the agriculturists rather than soldiers and spare Senegambians the disruption to trade and their daily livelihood.

We continue to maintain that he's trying to deflect attention away from the real issue : the boycott of the ferries which has taken its toll on the economy.  He wants to have it resolved on more favorable terms than the Senegalese Transport Union is willing to offer. He opened the borders to entice the union negotiators only to close them when they couldn't agree to proposed reduction in fares which will still be voluntary, and not mandatory as Jammeh had wished, to pay in CFA.

It is this climb down from his original demand which has caused three and one half months of gridlock and hardship to citizens of the SeneGambia region that is the reason for all the commotion that Jammeh has manufactured.  Jammeh is master at distracting attention from real problems.  As we have previously cited, everybody is talking about the border closure and nothing on what started the problem in the first place - the contravention of the 2005 Agreement between Senegal and The Gambia which states that Gambia cannot increase or change the fare structure without consultation and giving Senegal adequate notice of any impending changes.

Back to the tour, his itinerary suggests a break from the tour to observe Easter Monday in Janjangbureh where, I presume, he will safer because the place is an island, and furthest from the Senegalese border as he can get.   He resumes the tour tomorrow with visits to the Niaminas.