Friday, April 17, 2015

Is Gambia descending into chaos?

Dictator Yaya Jammeh 
The standoff at Fass Njagga Choi in the North Bank of the country between the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the para-military forces of the Jammeh regime is entering Day 2 with no sign of neither party climbing down.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, the UDP leader declared his intention to carry on with his party's 10-day tour of the country regardless of the number of troops the government is prepared to deploy to block the main road.

The regime shocked by the precipitous drop in its popularity has become extremely nervous of, and sensitive to. the increasing level of criticism, by the opposition, of the management of the economy, the high level of corruption and the increasing level of human rights abuses.  This has resulted in regimes extreme reaction of attempting to deny the country's single biggest opposition party from taking the issues to the people.

The regime has come under tremendous pressure lately from Gambian exiles in the United State and Europe diaspora culminating in the 30 December 2014 military-style attack on State House resulting in several deaths.  The alleged attackers and those considered to be accomplices have been tried in a secret court marshal and found guilty of treason.  Most have been condemned to death.

These events have resulted in heightened security to suffocating levels - in the literal as well as the figurative sense - resulting in prolonged travel time and thus adding to the coat of doing business. Small business have closed as a result of the heavy handedness of the military and the corrupt practices of government and area council revenue collectors.

The recent unilateral and illegal decision of the regime to transfer revenue collection authority from the City, Municipal and Area Councils to central government has resulted in absolute chaos in the financing of normal functions assigned to these entities by law.  As a consequence of this arbitrary and callous decision, Council employees salaries have been delayed, refuse go uncollected posing serious health problems for urban dwellers.  These entities levy rates to finance their operations. Delay in the transfer of these proceeds from central government has caused havoc, resulting in heightened frustration and rising tension.  Persistent lack of electricity can only add to the tension.

In our Facebook post, we suggested that Jammeh and his APRC are shocked by the precipitous fall in the popularity of the regime because of failed policies, high level of corruption and the constant and persistent abuse of human rights.  The unpopularity of the regime is self-inflicting and has transformed the urban areas into tinderboxes, ready to explode.  All it takes is a spark, and we are looking at the spark in the standoff at Fass Njagga Choi.

It is a standoff that the United Democratic Party's leader, Ousainou Darboe, has vowed not to back down.  The next move is Yaya Jammeh's which is not an envious place to be for a dictator and a regime that is under siege from Omar Jallow (OJ), Ousianou Darboe and the international human rights organizations around the world.