Saturday, August 9, 2014

A thoroughly disgraced Jammeh returns home today

"No greeters at the airport" was Jammeh's last instructions to his hosts as he prepares to return to Banjul from Andrews Air Force Base located outside of Washington DC in the next few hours.

After a highly eventful US - Africa Summit trip full of embarrassing moments. it must be good riddance for the Secret Service and the District Police for having spent a disproportionate amount of their time tending to the security needs of a tyrant from tiny Gambia.

Even before his departure this evening, Jammeh is not hesitating to display his displeasure, at least within US laws, by directing that he doesn't want to see any of his Washington DC Embassy staff to see him off, including the Deputy Head of Mission, Omar Faye.  No Washington DC Embassy staff member will be at AAFB this evening.  One can only imagine what awaits the members of the security forces, President's Office and Foerign Ministry staff once the dictator sets foot at Banjul International Airport.

Unlike the former Foreign Minister Tangara, who was at the center of the controversy during last year's New York anti-Jammeh protests by the same protesters to the point of engaging in physical altercations,  DHM Faye has proven to be the opposite of Momodou Tangara which he has displayed in his short stay in Washington when he has tried to engage Jammeh's opponents and his attitude can only be described as accommodating.

For example, Mr. Faye has received dissidents members of the exile community in his office to discuss their differences with the hope, perhaps, of 'softening' their stance against Jammeh, an impossible fete under any circumstances.  Although outnumbered by the dissident protesters, a handful of APRC (Gambia's ruling party) supporters did show up at the Hay Adams Hotel where Jammeh was holed up which, we are told, was organized by Mr. Faye.  Unfortunately, his good faith measures did not seem to have impressed his boss who believes in confrontational politics, and the use of force against "the enemy".  Force, to Jammeh, is the only means of achieving his goals.   Anything short of that is a sign of weakness.

The Embassy staff, including the Deputy Chief of Mission, ignored by Jammeh throughout his stay must be in a state of despondency.  As a normal diplomatic practice and time permitting, Heads of State usually visit their Embassy to thank staff for their work.  Jammeh has refused to extend similar courtesies to his own Embassy staff.

The violence that was unleashed on a group of protesters at Jammeh hotel a few days ago led to a female journalist, Fatou Camara, being sent a female journalist to the hospital, and an Embassy staff, Pierre Minteh, being called in for questioning by the Washington DC police.

The fact that the assaults against unarmed protesters took place at all was disgraceful enough.  When considered against the background that there were 50 other delegations in Washington (with only one other known similar incident involving the DRC delegation), criminal assaults of the nature committed by some members of Jammeh's entourage, further degrades the Office of the President and Jammeh's own image, especially among his counterparts.  There were a great deal of sneering and snickering within some delegations, and among the diplomatic community.  

Before coming to Washington, Jammeh left behind a political minefield of missteps of his own making, the consequences of which will haunt him for the rest of his stay at State House.   He took into custody a highly respected 80-year old Imam for three days because, the regime alleges, he defied a Jammeh-issued Fatwa that banned Eid prayers outside of the officially recognized date.  The frail cleric was shuttled between several police station before finally being released on Day 3 of his ordeal on bail.

During the same period i.e. the end of Ramadan, Jammeh managed to stir more trouble for himself by speaking disparagingly about the politically powerful and Senegal-based Mouride sect whose followers have provided free labor to Jammeh's farms during harvest time.   Their labor may be withheld this and future seasons as a result.   More political fallout is expected upon Jammeh's return to Banjul later today.