Friday, November 20, 2015
Jammeh's anti Franco-Senegalese rhetoric is no coincidence
Momodou Sabally, who was recently "pardoned" in the middle of his trial on charges ranging from economic crime, abuse of office and giving false information to a public servant by the Gambian dictator, has been reinstated by Jammeh with a specific intent of exploiting the blind ambition of the young and relatively inexperienced former civil servant.
Therefore, it is not a coincidence that an anti-French piece generally regarded to contain glaringly and largely discredited historical account of the CFA-zone - monetary union of the former French colonies in West African - designed to malign Senegal and France by an increasingly hostile regime of Yaya Jammeh towards both Senegal and France. The fact that the article appeared on Sabally's first day on the job as the Managing Director of the paper is a signal that he's ready to do the bidding for an increasingly bellicose regime that's on its final legs.
The pardoning of the former Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs came on the day judgement was to be handed down when the court clerk announced "there will be no judgement...as we have received a letter from State House that the accused was pardoned by the President." Under the dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh, it is perfectly normal to pardon someone before guilt or innocence is established by a court of law.
Bringing Momodou Sabally into the fold on the eve of the 2016 presidential elections and in the midst of a presidential campaign tour of the provinces is seen as a signal of the start of tribal politics which is his specialty based on his record. The opposition, on the other hand, has come under fire once again with the leadership being accused of parochialism in spite of the fact that the regime is responsible for fanning the tribalism flame and spreading its anti-Senegalese sentiments during his current campaign tour.
The regime's decision to recycle the former Minister for Presidential Affairs into the campaign structure is consistent with Jammeh's agenda of attempting to deflect his political problems brought about by his failed economic policies away from an increasingly dejected citizenry. The Gambian economy is in its worst shape ever with mounting external and domestic debt, high unemployment in general and youth employment in particular and high cost of basic food. The regime has just announced the postponement of the banning of rice importation from December this year to September 2016 - a proposition that is more of a pipe dream (some would say a cruel hoax) than a reality.
If Jammeh's intent is to use Momodou Sabally to stir the pot of tribalism and ratchet up the anti-Senegalese, anti-French and anti-Western hatred in the run up to the presidential elections - assuming Jammeh will take part - both are in for a rude surprise. Remember, it was Momodou Sabally who lambasted the Americans for being "lifted from backwardness...to superpower status by the blood sweat and tears of millions of African slaves." Sabally accused them of masterminding the campaign against the Jammeh regime which, perhaps explains why the British colonial legacy is filled with excessive brutality and the degrading treatment of the African. It is the same vitriol that is expected to be spewed by the new Managing Director of the Daily Observer.
Meanwhile both the political and economic landscapes have changed significantly and have tilted in favor of the opponents of the dictatorship and against the regime responsible for the current economic mess of which Momodou Sabally has contributed in no small measure. He was faulted for advising Jammeh to usurp the power of the Central Bank by using Executive Order to set foreign exchange rates - a practice still in place against the advise of the International Monetary Fund. The regime of Yaya Jammeh is one that is very unpopular both at home and abroad. The current security issues facing Mali, Senegal and the entire West Africa region only adds to the highly volatile and combustible environment Sabally and Jammeh must tread.