Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why is Jammeh suddenly acting nice towards former American Ambassador Joseph Stafford

Former Ambassador now Charge d'Affairs Stafford and Jammeh
When the former Ambassador to The Gambia, Joseph Stafford, currently serving as Charge d'Affairs, tour of duty came to an end and he tried to beg leave of the president of his Host country as dictated by diplomatic protocol, Jammeh refused to receive him.  He settled for Gambia's vice president. That was 2005.

Fast forward to almost a decade to the day, in 2015, the same Joseph Stafford, now retired and taken out of retirement to hold the fort while a substantive Ambassador is going through the confirmation process,  is now being royally received at State House by one of Africa's most corrupt and brutal leader to earn his country -The Gambia - The North Korea of Africa.

Why the sudden change in attitude towards the United States by a country with one of the worst human rights record in Africa, if not the world, and where anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric flourishes because the U.S. and the E.U's constant poor assessment of the country's deteriorating human rights environment.

Both the United States Department of State and the European Union's External Relations Department have regularly cited human rights violations that culminated in the EU's 17 - point demand to the government of Yaya Jammeh to address the severe deficiencies in its prison facilities which are congested, filthy and act as torture chambers.  The judiciary came under heavy criticism as well from the EU for its lack of due process and acting in cahoots with the executive branch in the execution of its judicial functions which calls for fundamental changes.

The security services, especially the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the police, also came under fire from not only the EU by also from the United Nation's Human Rights Commission who accused the authorities in Banjul of "arresting first and then investigating" thus denying the accused the constitutional guarantee of not detaining anyone beyond 72 hours without charge.

As a result of these, and other violations involving the rights of members of the LGBT community in the Gambia who are constantly and personally threatened by the Gambian dictator, the EU suspended disbursement of much-needed development assistance funds amounting to approximately $ 36 million.  The resultant effect of such an action is the worsening of the country's balance of payment, further plunging the economy into a free fall.

The regime needs money to prevent total collapse of the economy.  The International Monetary Fund stepped in after the regime promised to follow prudent fiscal policy that the Fund had been recommending for a very long time.  Limiting domestic borrowing to 1% of GDP that the Fund was promised is probably already violated given the established pattern of domestic borrowing the regime has grown used to.

The United States became visibly active on the diplomatic only after the violent treatment of the LGBT community in The Gambia following rampant arrests, detentions and tortures of those identified as gays or lesbians by informers of the regime.  It was only after the LGBT communities in the United States started raising concerns and demanding action from the Obama Administration that they have all being removed from detention and subsequently charged with "aggravated homosexuality", discharged and released by the courts - courts that that instructions from Jammeh rather than dispensing justice independent of the executive.

The Gambian dictator is clearly under tremendous pressure from several sources, the least of which is the United States and thus the imperative to  go on a diplomatic charm offensive.  Ambassador Joseph Stafford, someone I am proud to call a friend, and who was refused audience with and by Jammeh, is now being decorated by the very same Jammeh.

If I were Jammeh, I'd probably be acting nice to America, and to my friend as well, to avert being slapped with a travel ban to add to my woes. We hope America will not buy the bail of goods the dictator is trying to sell.  We hope the same applies to the European Union as well with regards to the blocked funds.  Yaya Jammeh is a menace to Gambian society, to the regional peace and an unreliable partner to both the United States and western European countries.