Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gambia-Taiwan breakup is final says Jammeh

In a brief and tersely-worded statement from the Office of the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Yaya Jammeh wishes to remind the world that the decision he took on the 15th November 2013 to "severe diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) is final and irreversible.  As announced earlier" the statement continues, this decision has been taken in line with our strategic national interests." End of statement.

Why would Jammeh see the need to remind the world that he meant it when he decided to sever ties with Taiwan in such an acrimonious fashion less than six months ago.

Has Taipei been trying to get Banjul to change its mind?  If so, what good would it do to Taiwan's diplomacy if it is seen to be trying to repair a damage that appears irreparable.  If not, what is Banjul up to.

It is widely believed that Jammeh committed a diplomatic blunder that will continue to cost its regime, both financially and diplomatically for sometime to come.  The financial support that Taiwan was providing has been significant as it was timely due the disbursement method adopted by Taiwan and Gambia.  Payments were made in tranches, as and when Jammeh needed cash to spend, ranging from repairing his ferries, paying for medicines for his Jammeh Foundation Hospital to paying for his numerous 'celebrations' and holiday bashes.

The Gambian dictator's decision to severe diplomatic ties may have been prompted by Taiwan's refusal to approve Jammeh's demand for un-receipted cash payment in excess of $10 million, but he expected that China was going to fill the diplomatic vacuum immediately.  When Beijing did not make the move, partly because of recent truce between the Cross-Straits neighbors over the of 'diplomatic poaching' of each others allies, Jammeh felt both isolated and strapped for cash.

By unexpectedly issuing this 'out-of-nowhere statement" to the world, as described by a senior official, that his decision of last November was not a mistake, and that he meant it, he is signaling to Beijing that The Gambia is ready to tie the diplomatic knot.  Whether the press release will do the trick, remains to be seen.