Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Is Gambia's Vice President contemplating resigning?

Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy
Now that Yaya Jammeh has decided not to attend the African Union Summit in Kigali, it turns out that his Vice President who, under normal circumstances, would have been a stand-in for the Gambian dictator, is also unable to attend due to illness, according to reports.

Jammeh's decision not to attend the Kigali Summit may be influenced, in part, by the recent scathing editorial in the New Times of Rwanda criticizing Jammeh's June 3rd Tallinding political rally speech as incitement of violence in which he threatened to kill Mankinkas one by one and referring to them as "enemies and foreigners." You can find the editorial here and our blog on it here.

Mrs. Isatou Njie-Saidy who was appointed Vice President and Minister of Women's Affairs in March 1997 is the longest serving cabinet member in the regime of Yaya Jammeh who seized power in July 1994.  Her nearly two decades of service to one of Africa's most brutal, corrupt and controversial dictatorship has taken it's toll on the 64-year old former Executive Director of the Women's Bureau in the government of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.

In addition to her official functions as Vice President and the Minister responsible for Women's Affairs, she has been standing in for the Gambian dictator in many national and international conferences, the frequency of which has increased exponentially as international criticism of the regime's human rights record deepens and his political and diplomatic isolation widens.

The Vice President has had her share of being on the front line during a number of highly controversial and unpopular events in the 22-year history of the dictatorship such as the killing of the fourteen high school students when she famously and falsely claimed that the students were armed. Her attempt at justifying the cold murder of unarmed students who were peacefully protesting against an earlier murder of a fellow student and the raping of another was met with blistering criticism from many Gambians including her traditional source of support - women, particularly mothers like her. It was the start of her decline in popularity as she became increasingly viewed as an apologist for and a defender of a very unpopular and vile regime.

Vice President Njie-Saidy has been under pressure ever since.  It is now being reported that increasing  pressure is being exerted by family members who are urging her to retire from the Vice Presidency which, according to many, is too late in the day when she her reputation is in tatters and no credibility left to speak of.  There are strong hints that she may tender her resignation citing her health as reason to call it a day.   What is unclear is whether Jammeh will accept it.