Friday, May 22, 2015

Jammeh has lost legitimacy and credibility to govern

Sidi Sanneh 
Yaya Jammeh's decision to conduct a 16-day tour of rural Gambia, organized and financed by the state to shore up his sagging personal popularity and as head of state has turned out to achieve just the opposite. Compared to previous tours, this tour has been an abject failure, both in terms of turn-out and from the point of view of the message from him to Gambians.

Turn-out has been so poor this time around that Jammeh resorted to insulting villagers because of the rousing welcome they gave to the opposition United Democratic Party's recently concluded tour of the country.  By contrast, villagers came out voluntarily in large numbers and, in some cases, under the threat of reprisals from Jammeh's political operative.

Previous to the UDP tour, the People's Progressive Party organized a highly successful rally under the interim leadership of Omar A. Jallow (O.J.) when thousands of supporters and sympathizers ventured out to attend under various threats.  The opposition crowds who were previously cowed into submission by a highly repressive regime suddenly found the courage to defy the regime because of a courageous leadership in OJ that led the way.  The Interim Leader of the PPP immediately and publicly embraced the UDP stance against the dictatorship at Fass Njagga Choi.  He also was able to mobilize PPP supporters in the Nuimis and Jokadu areas to go to Fass Njagga Choi in solidarity with Ousainou Darboe, his comrade-in-arms.

Yaya Jammeh's 16-day tour was in reaction to the opposition's sudden resurgence because of the increasing lack of confidence in a regime that is displaying the characteristics of a rogue state with a high degree of criminality, in addition to being highly corrupt and incompetent.  And it is showing in the size of Jammeh's crowds which have dwindled remarkably signalling a widespread dissatisfaction of Gambians in Jammeh's failure to keep to his numerous promises since he seized power in 1994.

Gambians have finally started questioning the competence and the comportment of the leadership of the ruling party that seems to revolve around one single individual i.e. Jammeh whose selfishness is legendary.  The promotion of the ill-advised and ill-conceived Vision 2016 is seen by many farmers as a total fabrication and a cruel hoax by a regime that knows the objectives of food self-sufficiency at the end of this year is unattainable.

The regime is so unpopular that Yaya Jammeh has to resort to intimidation.  Farmers are coerced into attending meetings where they are insulted by an increasingly agitated dictator.  Farmers are joined by school children and civil servants who must line the streets of the urban area for hours as Jammeh enters the capital city of Banjul at the abruptly-curtailed tour.

Many sections of Gambian society have concluded that the Jammeh regime is illegitimate because of not how it obtained power but how it exercises it in the name of the electorate, and it is showing in the numbers.