Monday, January 9, 2017

What next for Jammeh in the face of a crumbling strategy

Buhari shaking hands with Johnson-Sirleaf 
In announcing their continued pursuit of the pacific route to resolving the political impasse caused by Yaya Jammeh's refusal to accept defeat at the December 1st polls, the ECOWAS leaders are reiterating a position they've held since the beginning of the crisis and which was repeated individually by Presidents Macky Sall, Muhammadu Buhari and rehashed once again by President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.

The regional organization is committed to a "peaceful mediation and a peaceful transfer of power...we will continue to pursue that for now." [Emphasis ours]  However the new element she introduced in her statement following the conclusion of the Accra meeting was the close monitoring of the proceedings of the Gambia's Supreme Court which, ECOWAS is probably fully aware that it is still not properly and legally constituted for reasons that was a subject of our previous blog post.

Following their Abuja meeting today 9th January, ECOWAS's Chief Mediator, Muhamadu Buhari will be leading a team of mediators that includes President Johnson Sirleaf and Mahama to meet with Jammeh in Banjul, probably for the final time, to reason for him to leave the Gambia peacefully.  He may even be offered to join them in their flight out of Banjul to avert a possible violent end to the stand-off.    

It is an open secret that the regime's notoriously bad reputation at home and abroad has severely limited its ability to attract serious and reputable personnel to its employ and the judiciary is no exception.  Nigeria and Cameroon have been the primary sources of recruitment of judges, magistrate and prosecutors for Jammeh but with the current political impasse, coupled with increasing hostile environment and public scorn faced by Nigerians in the Gambian judiciary, Jammeh is finding it increasingly harder to recruit them "off the shelf" as opposed to through bi-lateral technical assistance program.  It turns out that even these "off-the-shelf" 419 judges are becoming scarce in an atmosphere of uncertainty and the scorn these category of judges have suffered recently once the role they have played in entrenching the distasteful regime of Yaya Jammeh over the years.

The Supreme Court will be without judges, and as far as we can tell our unconfirmed report that Chief Justice Fagbenle has absconded has still not been disproved.  Without a Supreme Court, Jammeh is toast.  His regime is crumbling from under his feet and with such embarrassment that the Buhari-led mediation mission of the 11th January may be scuttled as a result.

Meanwhile, Ministers are resigning and fleeing to neighboring Senegal.  Jammeh's Information minister is the latest to have tendered his resignation.  He is currently reportedly in the Senegalese capital city of Dakar.   Reports have it that Mama Fatima Singhateh is also considering quitting because of the Supreme Court debacle and her reported opposition to the state of emergency that Jammeh is contemplating declaring tomorrow (Tuesday) which many in the military are not in favor of.  In fact, some soldiers have already started abandoning their posts and other vacating their staff quarters in preference to their civilian homes.  "There is absolute chaos" is how a military personnel described the scene today at the Bakau barracks. of declaring tomorrow ( Tuesday).  

With Jammeh's cabinet members and military in near revolt, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how Jammeh can hold the center from crumbling.  His sure bet is to negotiate his way out of the logjam he created with on one's help.