Monday, May 23, 2016

BREAKING : Senegal - Gambia borders to open tomorrow (Tuesday) morning

We have been reliably informed that the 3-month long border stand-off between The Gambia and Senegal will end tomorrow morning.

According to a source close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, the Senegal Transport Union acting on orders of the Senegalese government of Macky Sall decided to lift their boycott of the TransGambia route.  The union has been the main stumbling block after union leaders, especially Mr. Gora Houma, president of the Union had said on numerous occasions that the borders will remain closed unless the Gambian dictator is firmly committed to re-starting the construction of he bridge over the Gambia River.

During the negotiations between the two countries, Senegal brought to the table 11 points ranging from the bridge to legal and judicial protocols including the unconditional release of "Boy Djine", a common criminal who escaped from a Senegalese jail and was being harbored by Yaya Jammeh.  It was being reported yesterday that the fugitive has been asked to report to the police station.  It is unclear if he is currently under police custody or had been handed over to the Senegalese authorities.

Opponents of Yaya Jammeh will be very disappointed at the news because they were hoping that the borders will remain closed, at least, until after the month of Ramadan which, observers have warned, would be a difficult fete because of the pressure that would come to bare on the Senegalese authorities as the Holy Month approaches.

Commodities and other essential food items have started to be in short supply, including petroleum products resulting in intermittent electricity supply in the urban areas.

We were among those hoping that the longer the borders remained closed, the better the chances of the Senegalese extracting concessions from Jammeh that would favor the opposition, including forcing him to step down at the end of his term.  Let us hasten to add, Jammeh stepping down will continue to be our mantra here at in addition to a total overhaul of the draconian electoral reforms in memory of Solo Sandeng who has given his life for it.

The inability of the political opponents of Yaya Jammeh to capitalize on the opportunities that presented themselves i.e. the death of Solo Sandeng that subsequently led to the arrest of the United Democratic Party's leader and the border closure must be seen as a lost opportunity that may not present themselves, if ever again.

The low turn-out at today's court appearance of Ousinaou Darboe, while it may not have any bearing on the decision to open the border, it certainly did not serve as a confidence-building measure for supporters of the opposition, at home and abroad.  A likely political fallout within the opposition political parties is likely to occur as a result of the failure to mount a credible and sustained challenge to Jammeh's dictatorial rule - a problem they will have to grapple with for the foreseeable future.