|Ouattara, Conde, Buhari, Gnassingbe and Sall (back to camera)|
The Gambian dictator decided to end his own self-imposed travel ban which has been in effect for exactly a year when he suddenly decided to join his ECOWAS colleagues in Abuja to help commemorate the regional organization's 40th Anniversary of its existence. Or, so it seems.
In fact, Jammeh's quarantine lasted longer than a year - to March 2014 - when he stormed out of the Yamoussoukro Summit after President Mahama of Ghana was elected to succeed Alassane Dramane Ouattara as Chairman of ECOWAS. After 20 years of lording over 2 million Gambians, the dictator expected that it was finally time for his status to be elevated. In stead it went to the rookie president who had been in office for barely a year. Jammeh is convinced that the Senegalese president, Macky Sall, was the instigator and architect of the conspiracy with Goodluck Jonathan, the former Nigerian president and president Ouattara as co-conspirators.
Therefore his decision to travel to Abuja invited pundits and informed observers of the politics of the region to speculate as to the reason or reasons for the deplacement. Although terrorism and employment creation were on the agenda, Jammeh's forte and interest lie elsewhere. He is a notorious attention seeker and an expert in creating an atmosphere of chaos and intrigue designed to keep him in power.
A scathing criticism of Alpha Conde and the heinous human rights record of Yaya Jammeh was carried in an article in one of Guinea's leading online papers lexpressguinee.com in which a catalog of atrocities committed under the 21-year dictatorship dating back to the brutal murder of Jammeh's Finance Minister, Koro Ceesay in 1995.
The list also included the students mowed down by the Jammeh forces, Deyda Hydara's assassination and many others. These atrocities should disqualify Yaya Jammeh from being invited to Guinea as guest of the Guinean people, the article concluded. And for President Alpha Conde who is aspiring to be the Nelson Mandela of Guinea, Jammeh's visit was ill-advised, especially from someone who claims that his long political struggle is to establish genuine democracy in Guinea. The article described Jammeh as Jammeh as "a poor example of African heads of state".
If the visit was to test the waters of public opinion with the hope of mending fences with Macky Sall, Alassane Ouattara and other regional leaders through the Guinea president, Jammeh's effort had failed, risking further isolation, regionally and at the international level.