Sunday, February 21, 2016

Yaya Jammeh will not be dislodged through elections

Sidi Sanneh 
Yuweri Museveni of Uganda has just been declared winner in an election that can only be described as a sham affair where the principal opposition candidate was put under house arrest throughout the voting.

The conduct of the elections prompted immediate statements of concern from the United States and the European Union, each expressing "concern" over the manner in which they were organized and effected.

According to the United States's Department of State statement issued today,  the elections were marred by "[D]elay in the delivery of voting materials, reports of pre-checked ballots and vote buying, ongoing blockage of social media sites, and excessive use of force by the police, collectively undermining the integrity of the electoral process." The American statement said the Ugandan people deserve better and continued to urge the release of the opposition leader from house arrest.

Signing a petition to President Obama today, we issued a statement stating that Africans have grown tired of despotic leaders who perpetuate themselves into a permanent state of repressive governance by manipulating the constitutional instruments and the security forces in their favor and against the interest of the general welfare.  We then warned that presidential elections will be held in several African countries this year - highlighting the upcoming presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo and The Gambia - and warning that similar tactics employed by Museveni will be adopted by Kabila and Jammeh.

As a general rule, dictators are never dislodged through the ballot because elections are never fair.  In many instances, the playing field has been rendered uneven well before election day.  In the case of the Gambia, Yaya Jammeh has already rigged it in his favor.  As recently s last week, he has deployed the Secretary General of his political party to fan the country to distribute nomination forms collecting voters card - read vote buying - and promising bags of rice to prospective voters.

New voters are being registered willy-nilly, including under-aged school children by members of the security forces who have traditionally been an integral part of and active participants in the electoral process since Jammeh seized power in 1994.  These are the same tactics being employed by despotic African leaders across the continent.   It is tme to put a stop to it, at least, in the case of The Gambia.

It must be noted at this point that Dr. Marloes Janson, a Reader in Anthropology and Sociology at the School of African and Oriental Studies, has published a paper on Africa Research Institute concluding that Jammeh may win another victory in the elections scheduled for December 2016.  It is a point worth recording.