Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"I will teach Macky Sall a lesson" says Jammeh

Of all the reasons given for the belligerent and erratic behavior of the Gambian dictators, the suggestion that the closure of the borders is security-related is the least plausible for reasons we have advanced these past two to three days.

Senegal certainly doesn't think it has anything remotely connected to the dissident community in Dakar, as suggested in some quarters.  According to sources in Senegal, Yaya Jammeh is still nursing a grudge since he was rebuffed by his colleagues at Yamoussoukro last month when he tried to get elected Chairman of ECOWAS.

Jammeh felt felt then, as he does now, that the Senegalese President played a pivotal role is blocking his nomination to contest the election with President John Mahama of Ghana.  A source close to Jammeh told this blog that Jammeh is so furious that he said, and we quote "I will teach Macky Sall a lesson."

The Senegalese President may have shared a commonly held view within the ECOWAS leadership that Jammeh's unpredictable and child-like behavior is unsuited for leadership of the regional organization.  There were unconfirmed rumors that President Sall played an adverse role prior to and during the nomination process that produced only one nominee, John Mahama of Ghana, who emerged as the consensus candidate a day before the elections were to take place.  Jammeh's name was never placed in nomination, not even by Nigeria or Senegal.  Jammeh felt betrayed by Nigeria after his Hoka Haram speech in Abuja which he thought was sufficient to win over President Goodluck Jonathan.  As for Macky Sall, Jammeh thought he could, at least count on the vote of his neighbor which wasn't to be.  He stormed out of Yamoussoukro seeking revenge.

Yamoussoukro of 2013 was a repeat of Accra of 2005 when Jammeh was bypassed by ECOWAS in favor of President Mamadou Tandja of Niger.  Obasanjo of Nigeria was the culprit then who Jammeh pointed fingers at for blocking his passage to the chairmanship.  Jammeh refuses to accept the reality that he will never be elected to lead the regional organization as long as he continues to display ignorance and immaturity.  ECOWAS relies on external assistance, financial and technical, from the United States and the European Union who have made it as clear as possible that Jammeh will not be invited to their respective capitals because of his anti-Western views and erratic behavior.  He is not considered a reliable ally and thus will negatively impact any inflow of assistance to the organization.  All his colleagues get the message loud and clear, except Yaya Jammeh.

Yaya Jammeh's frequent border closure is seen by many in Senegal as a weapon pointed at its head.  The former Senegalese Ambassador to The Gambia, Mr. Ndiouga Ndiaye, was quoted in the press as suggesting that "Senegal must assume its responsibility and work around the Gambia."  Patience seems to be running out in Senegal, and the former Ambassador Ndiaye seemed to have abandoned diplomacy when he is being quoted in the same paper as saying "there is no diplomatic solution."  He asserted that previous Senegalese governments have tried every trick in the book to work with Jammeh to no avail, and has accused Jammeh of "bad faith" in closing the border when he and his Senegalese counterpart had signed loan agreements with donors to build a TransGambia bridge across the Gambia River.  "Senegal must have courage to call Yaya Jammeh to order," the former Ambassador was quoted as saying because "it was he (Jammeh) who decided to close the border without notice, Senegalese must leave the matter for the State to act."

The rhetoric is growing louder with every passing day.  In the southern Senegalese capital of Ziguinchor, the transporters are demanding the government of Senegal to abandon the TransGambia route completely in favor of developing the Tambacounda route.  Tempers flared when travelers discovered Sunday morning that the borders were closed, and the only option opened to them was to travel around the Gambia, a journey which adds 500 Km and CFA10,000, a proposition that many cannot afford - a sobering reminder that the two countries a condemned to living together, bound by the inevitability of geography.  However, peace, respect and mutual co-existence between Senegal and The Gambia will never be realized with Yaya Jammeh in power.