Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The continued madness of Yaya Jammeh

Jammeh and ADC
Yaya Jammeh was a "no-show" again at the ECOWAS Summit that convened in Dakar this past weekend under the chairmanship of President Macky Sall of Senegal.

As doyen of the ECOWAS Heads of State of 22 years standing, Jammeh status within the regional body defies rationality.

Despite his longevity as dictator of The Gambia and a member of the ECOWAS since he seized power in 1994, he is still the outsider, looking in, as he is bypassed for the chairmanship for twenty one consecutive years which is a record in itself.

His contempt for his colleagues as a result has grown with time as he isolates himself progressively from both ECOWAS and the world.  Of course, his international isolation has been mostly of his own doing as he insults and sulks his way to the dog house of the international community.  The process started with his pull out from the Commonwealth that, to Jammeh, is a neocolonialist institution to his decision a month later to server diplomatic ties with his most benevolent and dependable friend - Taiwan - over his persistent demand for financial assistance that he diverts for his personal use.

Regionally, Jammeh has been an equally disruptive force and a thorn in the flesh of many of his neighbors, especially those in his immediate vicinity. Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.  For example in mid-February this year, Jammeh decided to increase the TransGambia highway tariff by 10,000% without notice, in contravention of existing bilateral and regional protocols which led to the border between Gambia and Senegal being closed for more than three months.

To open the border, Senegal extracted from a clueless regime as much as eleven concessions, ranging from reaffirming its commitment to building the bridge to extraditing a Senegalese common criminal who escaped prison and was being harbored by Jammeh.  Needless to say that the closure caused economic disruptions and revenue shortfalls in both countries but Gambia is likely to be impacted more when final assessments are done.  

Sooner than the borders were opened than Jammeh found more reasons to cause more rancor with Senegal and with the international community, all in one interview with Jeune Afrique.  First, he threatened to attack Senegal and then said that both Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General and Amnesty International can go to hell.  Why?  Because both demanded full and impartial investigations into the death in custody of Ebrima Solo Sandeng - opposition youth leader - and others who were arrested last moth during protest demonstrations demanding electoral reforms.

Jammeh could not understand why all the fuss about the opposition party your leader's death in custody when he told Jeune Afrique that "people die in detention or during interrogation; it's common."  One person died, so what, Jammeh seems to be saying to the interviewer before definitively concluding that he was not going to investigate.

Whether, Jammeh realized that he had admitted what many had reported and denied by the regime that, indeed, Ebrima Solo Sandeng was tortured to death by his (Jammeh's) own security agents at the notorious National Intelligence Agency torture chambers is unclear.