Sunday, September 25, 2016

It's time for Jammeh to step down

The Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh 
We have been calling for Jammeh to vacate the presidency three years running.  You can see the relevant blog posts here, here and here.

Recent events unfolding in the Gambia  have compelled us to renew our call for Jammeh to step down from the presidency for the good of the country and its people.

Jammeh's 22-year dictatorship has been nothing but a nightmare. It transformed a free, open and democratic Gambia into one of the world's most repressive country's.

The democratic environment that guaranteed the freedom of expression and, the rule of law, under the government of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, formed cornerstone that made it possible for a relatively well-managed and thriving economy which was the envy of managers of regional economies.

The mismanagement of the economy under Jammeh resulted in wealth and financial resources being concentrated in the hands of the Gambian dictator and a few of his cronies at the expense of economic growth and development.  For example, The Gambia ranked third (behind Cote d'Ivoire and Cabo Verde) in the 16-member ECOWAS region in per capita GDP when Jammeh seized power illegally in 1994.   Today, the Gambia ranks dead last being out-performed by Guinea Bissau  (one of Africa's most unstable country) and post conflict countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The economy is not the only casualty of the Jammeh regime.  Human rights of Gambians suffered and continue to suffer similar fate.  Jammeh has jailed, maimed, exiled, killed, extra-judicially executed and made countless Gambians to disappear.  His deplorable record has resulted in numerous verbal sanctions from every human rights organization of note across the globe.

The international community and its associated organs such as the United Nations, European Union and the Commonwealth - before Jammeh unilaterally withdrew the country's membership - have all fielded missions to the country that resulted in condemnation of the regime's treatment of its citizens that resulted in the threats of sanctions.

In fact, we have come to learn that last week's follow-up mission by members of the European Parliament following the passage of a sternly-worded Resolution that threatened targeted sanctions that included the possibility of imposing travel ban on the regime's senior officials led to the fleeing of the regime's Interior Minister (Ousman Sonko) who feared that his name would be at the top of the list of any impending ban.  He escaped to Sweden where he is seeking political asylum.

The decision by the longest-serving Interior Minister and the most trusted partner of Jammeh has sent signals across the security agencies that the end is near for the regime.  As we have reported previously, cracks in Jammeh's security cordon continue to widen since the 30th December 2014 attack on State House led by diaspora dissidents.

The Interior Minister was personally and intimately involved in the planning and execution of numerous high profile human rights cases that include but not limited to the death in custody of Solo Sandeng, the assassination of Deyda Hydara, the disappearances of journalist Ebrima Chief Manneh and aid worker Kanyiba Kanyi.  

Factions within the armed forces have already developed and a high degree of suspicion exists within them, threatening the peace and stability of both The Gambia and the region.  Ousman Sonko's defection has caused others within the security forces to think of absconding as well, plunging the country into further insecurity.

The former minister has vast amount of sensitive and highly explosive information in his possession that can further damage the regime's already battered image but may seriously undermine the legitimacy of the regime because of the pivotal role Ousman Sonko had played in the electoral processes that saw the election of Yaya Jammeh as president.  It is time for Jammeh to step down.