Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let us avert a constitutional crisis and not stoke one

President Adama Barrow 
Most Gambians agree on two things - 1.  that former dictator Jammeh was terrible and corrupt and 2. The 1997 Constitution is deeply flawed.

Now that the first point is history because Jammeh is no longer in power to continue to inflict harm on Gambians and the country, the second point has taken on added importance because of its urgency and the potentially harmful consequences, if left unaddressed.

Even legal experts will agree with laypersons that the flaws in the constitution are numerous enough to warrant a Constitutional Review Commission to be established to "clean it up" to make it a truly republican legal document designed to protect the rights and liberties of everyone living within territorial Gambia but also to protect the State against individuals and entities that can do it harm.

The Gambian Constitution, with all its numerous amendments, can best be described as an overly decorated Christmas tree with ornaments hanging from every conceivable branch to obscure the less than perfect shape of the tree.  Jammeh was a master at exploiting the shiny object syndrome.  And while we are on the subject, can someone tell me the utility in the Office of the Ombudsman and what it has done for you lately.  Probably, absolutely zilch.

Despite all its flaws, and with time, Jammeh made sure that the Constitution worked for him and which he exploited as one of his most potent instrument of repression and control by personally and carefully designing to punish both his actual and potential political opponents.

Which brings us to the immediate problem facing the Barrow Administration of appointing a cabinet. Following the announcement that Fatoumatta Tambajang has been selected to serve as the new administration's Vice President, one of Jammeh favorite ploys of using age to disqualify political opponents has come into sharp and urgent focus.

To focus attention on age and not on the justness of the law and whether it is morally right to deny an incoming administration - a successor to one of Africa's - if not the world's - most corrupt leaders the right to select the best and the brightest to give Barrow a fighting chance.   We all know that these laws were designed specifically to limit the number of opportunities Ousainou Darboe will have in contesting the presidency, and any other likely opponent of Jammeh, for that matter, from the other political parties.

Jammeh, of course, could not have done all these bad things without the active participation and consent of a willing National Assembly.   They must, therefore, share the blame in putting a nation already at the brink in further danger because laws that were designed purposely to limit access to political power which may be consistent with dictatorship but totally repugnant and inconsistent with the democratic principles we are demanding that the Barrow administration adopt and practice.

President Barrow must meet with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Majority and Minority Leaders of  APRC and NRP and urge them to convene an emergency meeting of the National Assembly to address the age, residency (for voting purposes) and other obstacles that were deliberately legislated, effectively relegating Gambians over 65 years to second class citizenship.

The National Assembly members have been part of the problem.  They must be part of the solution,  They must sit continually, if necessary, to help the new administration clean up the mess.  As an emergency measure, an omnibus bill repealing all these clauses that were clearly targeted at the opposition should be able to solve the immediate problems facing the incoming administration.  A Constitutional Review Commission to address the constitution in whole will not be supplanted by these immediate remedial measures.

It is our view that this is not the constitutional crisis some would like us to believe.  It is a bad, repugnant and odious law, it needs to be gotten rid of, one way or the other.  Extraordinary situations of this nature requires extraordinary remedial action and not verbose arguments about obnoxious laws that have been inherited by the new administrations.

We appreciate the security concerns that might have contributed to Barrow's extended stay in Dakar but it is difficult to justify staying a further day in the Senegalese capital while urgent state matters keep piling up by the minute.  ECOWAS and Senegal through ECOMIC forces should be in a position to provide the new president with adequate security that will allow him to get to work immediately.  Action, and solutions to our mounting problems are what's required right now,  The matter can be resolved legally and constitutionally without it turning into a full blown constitutional crisis, as some have already characterized it.  But if we stoke it, for whatever reason, it will be one.            

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Today, January 19th marks a new dawn


Today, January 19th 2017 marks a new dawn, ushering in a New Gambia under a soon to be inaugurated third President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow.

As far as Gambians are concerned, the previous president and dictator is history as we turn a new page in our country's 51-year post-Independence history, 22 of which was spent in absolute and total darkness, both in the literal and figurative sense.

As we commence a new journey together and in unison, we hope and pray that common sense and love for country will win over vengeance and animosity to mark the beginning of a new era of peace, stability and prosperity to every Gambian which can only be realized through hard work.

Based on overnight reports,, Gambia's Chief of Defense Staff is quoted as saying that he is not going to commit his men to engage in "a stupid fight" with ECOMOG because he "loves his men" suggesting that the former dictator of The Gambia is left to fight his fight, alone, hopefully sparing the rest of the country of what could have been an agony of humiliating defeat at the hands of a far superior regional force.

Gambians are ready to move on under a new management team headed by CEO, President Adama Barrow and our neighbor Senegal together with our regional and international partners ready to join in our effort to reconstruct a New Gambia.    

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gambia declares state of emergency ahead of deployment of ECOMOG troops

Protester fighting police in  Burkina Faso 
Gambia's National Assembly has declared a state of emergency ahead of the deployment of ECOWAS military force whose mission is to eject Yaya Jammeh from the presidency after refusing to accept the verdict of the Gambian voters who rejected him at the December 1st presidential elections in favor of Adama Barrow.

The Resolution was considered and approved by the APRC-dominated National Assembly that has been locally dubbed as the "rubber stamp" parliament declaring a state of emergency in The Gambia which will cover a period of ninety days, effective from 17th January - 17th April 2017.

In the same said Resolution, the National Assembly considered and approved extending the life of the National Assembly for a further ninety days, effective from 11th April - 11th July 2017.

The resolutions were motioned by Fabakary Tombong Jatta who is the Majority Leader in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly is expected to reconvene tomorrow to consider extending the term of office of the President to an unspecified period of time which is an unconstitutional move that many legal experts believe is a treasonable office.   All National Assembly members who support such a law will likely face severe legal repercussions that will include jail term among other punishment.    

Monday, January 16, 2017

Johnson Sirleaf reacts to her telephone conversation being clandestinely recorded by Jammeh

Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and Macky Sall 
The Liberian President is not taking lightly the behavior of Yaya Jammeh who recorded his conversation with her which was then played on national television.

The video tape was heavily edited to give a nervous Gambian population the false assurance that ECOWAS will not exercise the military option against Jammeh and his renegade regime that will become illegal in few hours time.

Reacting to Jammeh's latest prank, the Liberia president said in a BBC interview "unfortunately, being the person that he is, he recorded and televised the conversation without advising me of his intent to do so."  It was obvious as we have outlined in our previous blog post, he edited the video to give the impression that ECOWAS was going to consider his request for judges to sit on the Gambia Supreme Court to deliberate on his applications to nullify the election results and the injunction request to bar Adama Barrow from being inaugurated on the 19th January.

A flustered Chairman of ECOWAS didn't leave any doubt that if Jammeh's intention was to portray her in a bad light and to give the false impression that the regional body was wavering on its stance about the various options on the table, the Liberian President was emphatic when she said " let me make it very, very clear.  There is no change is ECOWAS' position.  The constitution of The Gambia must be respected."

She continued to say to the BBC that "my only duty was to take his appeal and pass it on to the mediating team.  At the time he called me, I was thinking that he was going to find a way out of this and he was going to be able to work with the team but clearly, clearly it was just a game.  It was just a ruse on his part."  

Meanwhile, at the National Assembly in Banjul today, a debate is on on a resolution thanking the ECOWAS Member States for their efforts in solving the political impasse peacefully which was the entire purpose of setting up the ECOWAS Chairperson to give the impression of entertaining a request from Jammeh that will only serve to prolong his illegal stay at the State House for more of his mischief making.  

At tomorrow's seating of the National Assembly, a resolution condemning the African Union's Peace and Security Council and the Government of Senegal for interfering in the internal affairs of The Gambia.

Mass arrests of military officers in Banjul

Jammeh with military guards 
The crackdown on the military has commenced with Jammeh targeting non-Jola which is a dangerous trend that is developing in the last 48 hours that threatens the peace and security of Gambian people as the 18th of January draws near.

A team of military police personnel led by Lt. Nuha William Jammeh, officer commanding Military Police, Sunday evening rounded up senior military officers at the Fajara barracks.

The officers, Captain Baboucarr Bah alias "Van Damm" and Captain Demba Baldeh alias "Mbarode" were both arrested on allegation of showing allegiance to President-elect Adama Barrow.

According to the same sources,  later on in the day, more arrests were made and among those arrested were Col. Hena Sambou, Lt. Col Seedy Joof, Lt. Col. Mai Touray, Major Yusupha Jammeh, Warrant Officer Class One Bangally, Warrant Officer Class One Nfansu Fofana, Warrant Officer Class one M.B.Sarr, Sgt. Kemo Manneh and ex Staff Sergeant Dodou Touray.

Security sources have also revealed that five of those arrested are being held at the Headquarters of the notorious National Intelligence Agency in Banjul.

Meanwhile, the Fajara Barracks has been put on alert due to threats of an attack led by  one of the Generals.  It is unclear which of Jammeh's Generals is being referred to in the reprot or the reason for the said planned attack.

This is a developing story ....

Jammeh asks lawmakers to break the law

Now that Jammeh has conned the Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission and President of Liberia before a nationally televised telephone exchange which was recorded without her knowledge,  Jammeh is continuing his childish antics by asking the National Assembly to convene today to extend his 5-year mandate as President to a date uncertain, a clearly illegal act.

Some would even argue that the act of extending the term of office of the President of The Republic is a treasonable offence.

Jammeh believes that since he's got Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on tape, seemingly agreeing to entertain an official request from the Gambian dictator to her ECOWAS colleague, to provide judges that will allow Gambia's Supreme Court to sit and deliberate on his pending applications before the Court.

Jammeh initial petition was to ask the Supreme Court to nullify the results of the elections and when that failed he filed an injunction with the same court to bar Adama Barrow from being inaugurated prior to a court decision.   Now that he has succeeded in getting the Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission to, at least, entertain the idea of a request from Jammeh for judges, Jammeh will use this as justification to stay beyond the 18th January when he is constitutionally required to vacate State House and cease to be president.
Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader 
Jammeh is now geared to asking the National Assembly to convene with a view to illegally extending his term of office.  There is no provision in the constitution that provides for the extension of the presidential term by even a day.

To suggest that by filing a petition, the president must sit and wait in office beyond the constitutionally mandated period while the Court decides is wishful thinking on Jammeh's part.

In fact, in 2011, while Ousainou Darboe's petition was pending before the Supreme Court, Jammeh inaugurated himself on the 19th January 2012.  He had no qualms then.  His current petition before the Supreme Court has nothing to do with processes provided in the constitution to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power from Jammeh to Barrow.

Speaker Abdoulie Bojang and Majority Leader Fabakary Tombing Jatta are being urged not to be led astray and into a legal no-man's land by a desperate leader who has been defeated in an election that has been universally acclaimed as free, fair and credible.   The entire world is behind Adama Barrow.

Why would you and the rest of the APRC members of the National Assembly be used in such an unconstitutional manner that will most certainly put you in legal jeopardy.  As lawmakers, you must not be enticed by Jammeh to break the law.  The Gambian people have spoken on the 1st of December by electing Adama Barrow.  National Assembly members of both parties and independents must ensure that the will of the people is not subverted which is what Jammeh is asking you to do.          

Sunday, January 15, 2017

How Yaya Jammeh conned Liberia's President Johnson Sirleaf on national television

Johnson Sirleaf, Koroma and Jammeh 
Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator who lost his bid for a 5th 5-year term in the last December presidential elections, had one more stunt to pull last night at the expense of Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and before a national television audience.

Jammeh placed a telephone called to the unsuspecting Liberian President to ask for her assistance in securing the services of Supreme Court judges to consider his petition for the annulment of the results of the elections he clearly lost last December.

Following the loss, he accepted defeat and conceded to his 51-year old rival Adama Barrow, only to reverse his position and refused to vacate the presidency unless the Supreme Court will deliberate on his application to nullify the results and call for fresh elections.

He decided to adopt this strategy with the hope that he will be able to entice enough judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone to sit in judgement of his case.  When the strategy failed because the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria refused to release his judges for the assignment in The Gambia, Jammeh found himself in a logjam because the earliest Nigeria can release its judges for the Supreme Court assignment in The Gambia would be in May and November, well beyond the 18th January deadline as stipulated clearly and unambiguously in the country's constitution.

Jammeh will be violating the constitution if he stays a minute later than midnight of the deadline. President-elect, Adama Barrow, is scheduled to be inaugurated the 3rd President of The Republic of The Gambia on the 19th January.  Since he cannot get enough judges to sit, Jammeh had to devise an unconstitutional route of filing an injunction with the same Supreme Court that has only one sitting judge to boast of - the notoriously corrupt Chief Justice, Emmanuel Fagbenle, who is not only the one doing the bidding for Jammeh but he is also in the business of running a church and a daycare school for profit.  To his credit, it is reported that the Chief Justice has indicated that he cannot pronounce on the application because he is an interested party, thus dealing a severe blow to his friend's latest ploy.

Finding himself further in a logjam, Jammeh decided to con Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by calling her and having the entire episode recorded on video and played before a national audience by asking her to intervene using her office as President of ECOWAS to impress upon the Nigerian president to provide the judges to sit on his injunction application that would prevent Adama Barrow from being inaugurated until the case is heard and disposed of.  The Liberian president responded that Jammeh should write his request clearly stating what he wants from her and ECOWAS which he immediately promised to do and in doing so referred to her as "my sister."

There is little doubt that Jammeh was not only belittling one of Africa's first woman president but he was trying concurrently to dupe the entire ECOWAS community and the Gambian voters who voted for change by voting Adama Barrow.  Jammeh's behavior did not surprise those who know this character but the extent to which he can go to delay the inevitable i.e. removal from office, by force, if necessary, is extraordinary.  And doing so at the expense of one of Africa's most respected political leader is shameful.  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf deserves better and Jammeh should be ashamed of himself - if he has any shame, that is.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jammeh readies for war with ECOMOG as he prepares to use Senegalese residents as human shields

Adama Barrow with the AfDB President 
Deciding that the use of force by ECOMOG to dislodge him from the State House is imminent,  the outgoing Gambian president Jammeh is preparing his troops to fight it out with a regional military force that will be led by Senegal as decided by ECOWAS in their last December Abuja Summit, according to reliable sources.

Jammeh is reportedly prepping up a segment of the Jola ethnic group within the army by informing them that Senegal is keen to attack Gambia and that they must be willing to fight and die because, according to the same source, Senegal is determined to uproot a Jola leader for a Mandinka president.  For this reason, Jammeh is telling them that they must be ready to fight and die to prevent a Mandinka from assuming the presidency even though Adama Barrow's parents, like many Gambians, are from two different tribes and was raised by a member of a third tribe.  But to Jammeh, he must distort the narrative to fit his convoluted belief that the Jola is seen by Mandinkas as being an inferior class.

Jammeh has been preaching and promoting tribal division, in one form or another, since he seized power in 1994 with minimal success.  However, in recent years, his tribal propaganda has taken on an added urgency as he sees his grip on power slipping away from him after 22 years of repression, corruption and ineptitude.  His rhetoric against the Mandinka ethic group was so inflammatory that the United Nation's Special Adviser on Genocide had to reprimand Jammeh by classifying it as incitement to violence against an ethic group (the Mandinka) whom he threatened to kill one by one because they are foreigners as well as enemies of the state.

Jammeh is known for his tribalism as well has his anti-Senegalese rhetoric.  As he prepares to fight ECOMOG, he is utilizing two of his favorite subjects - Mandinkas and Senegal -  as whipping boys or boogeymen by inciting the Jola ethnic group in the Gambian military to fight to maintain their dominance which they will forfeit with his removal from power by Senegal.

He is also reportedly instructing a section of the military willing to accompany him along this suicidal path to round up Senegalese nationals to be used as human shields in the event of an imminent assault on the country by ECOMOG.  According to a source, Jammeh is ready to die with as many people as he can possibly take down with him because of the humiliating defeat he suffered at the hands of Adama Barrow - a rejection that he cannot endure given the absolute power he enjoyed over the 22-years he ruled the Gambia.              

 

Adama Barrow's first foreign trip as President-elect

President-elect Barrow, Hollande and Johnson Sirleaf
President-elect Barrow of The Gambia is in Bamako, Mali to attend the 27th Africa - France Summit.  He flew into the Malian capital last night together with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, after President Buhari-led ECOWAS mediation team fail to convince the outgoing Gambian dictator to leave the presidency peacefully after losing in a free, fair and credible elections last December.

The internationally-acclaimed election results that produced Adama Barrow was in full display in Bamako when he was welcomed into the community of nations with open and welcoming arms at the Summit by France's President Francois Hollande, seen here with Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The message that the Gambian people sent to the rest of world by voting for the Coalition candidate will never be allowed to be lost in Jammeh-inspired and directed shenanigans designed to bury the message of rejection of tyranny and dictatorship and the embrace of democracy and the rule of law.

The civility of both the December 1st vote and the respect, dignity and humbleness that is the character of President-elect Barrow marks a new beginning for a country that has been consumed by the 22-year dictatorial rule of a repulsive character like Yaya Jammeh.

The rest of world is breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Gambian people have decided to elect the ballot box instead of the bullet but Jammeh has shown, in the several weeks, that he prefers a violence to settle a Jammeh-manufactured political impasse.
Hollande of France, Barrow of Gambia and IBK of Mali

ECOWAS is thus encouraged to continue to use prudence in exercising the final option that is in its arsenal, consistent with the stance reiterated by the Presidents of Senegal, Nigeria and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel de Souza.  But it is must be used, it should be used to enforce the peace and security of continental Africa's smallest country that has been brought to the brink by one of Africa's brutal and corrupt leaders.

If there is any doubt in the minds of Jammeh and the few army personnel who support his irresponsible actions if trying to undermine the will of the Gambian people, he should be reminded that the West African military chiefs have met in the Nigerian capital Abuja to prepare for a possible military action in the Gambia.      
 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jammeh files an injunction with the Supreme Court to stop President-elect Barrow's inauguration

Edu Gomez - Jammeh;'s lawyer 
After he has failed to recruit the required number of judges to constitute a proper Supreme Court, Yaya Jammeh is, once more, trying to pull a rabbit from a hat by trying to stop President-elect Barrow from being inaugurated as Gambia's 3rd President of the Republic by filing an injunction with the Supreme Court to stop him from being inaugurated on the 19th January, 2017.

The application for the restraining order attempts to prevent "any organ of the government...any domestic, regional and international body, group or organizations, their agents, servants...partaking or participating in any manner or form in the swearing-in and/or inauguration of Adama Barrow as President of the Republic of The Gambia on the 19th day of January or any other date pending the determination of the Petition of the Petitioner/Applicant before this Honorable Court.

The application was filed by lawyer Edu Gomez on behalf of the outgoing ruling party of Yaya Jammeh, the APRC, this afternoon.   The fact that the filing took place is in itself an act of desperation if not of incompetence because the Chief Justice who also is the sole judge on the Supreme Court bench is an interested party in the case and thus cannot hear the application, according to a source familiar with the inner workings of the Gambian judiciary. " It is like him ( CJ, Fagbenle) saying, I hereby restrain myself from swearing in the president-elect."  The application specifically states that the Chief Justice is an interested party, so it impossible for him to act on the application.

To prevent Gambia's President-elect from being inaugurated as prescribed by the Constitution is a treasonable offence that must not be tolerated by a lawless individual like Yaya Jammeh.  The will of the Gambian people will not be subverted by a dictator who was defeated in an election that has been universally proclaimed to be free, fair and credible.

A military coup d'etat will never be tolerated, AGAIN

M. A. Bah, Minister of Interior 
Outgoing president Yaya Jammeh has tried the constitutional coup d'etat route and has failed to recruit Supreme Court justices to sit and, hopefully, validate his false claim that the elections were not won by Adama Barrow.

Now that Jammeh's Supreme Court strategy has failed to even sit for lack of judges willing to stake their professional reputation by bending to the whims of a dictator to subvert the will of the Gambian people, we are being told that Jammeh will try to ferment a military coup d'etat by encouraging the current Minister of the Interior to stage one.

We say to Mr. M. A. Bah, and to anyone in on this futile and dangerous adventure, that the Gambian people will revolt against you and anyone involved, should you attempt to carry out such an irresponsible, unconstitutional and thus illegal act.  The Gambia has experienced 22 years of misery under military dictatorship. We are not prepared to accept one more day of what we have experienced in the last 22 years.

The Gambian people have expressed their collective will in voting in Adama Barrow as their next president.  And come January 18th, he will be installed as the 3rd President of the Republic of The Gambia.  Subverting the will of the Gambian people is a treasonable offense that will trigger a massive demonstration of deviance by THE PEOPLE against any attempt by a small band of military misfits.  Military adventurism will no longer be tolerated by the Gambian people.  Not after what they have endured under Yaya Jammeh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

National Assembly to convene this afternoon to extend Jammeh's term of office


When you think that Jammeh and his sycophantic supporters have finally come to their collective sense, they pull a surprise.  But this is madness.

The National Assembly is convening this afternoon as 3:00 PM to extend Jammeh's term of office beyond the constitutionally-sanctioned of "up to 60 days from the date of the presidential elections."

The unconstitutional extension of the presidential term is seen by many as 'treasonable" and any National Assembly member engaged in such activity is committing a treasonable offense according to knowledgeable sources

Today the Chief Justice informed the outgoing president's ruling party the APRC failed in its attempt to have the Supreme Court nullify the results of the December 1st presidential elections that favored Adama Barrow.  The earliest he could get judges freed from their judicial duties in the Nigerian courts would be in May.  And it is for this reason and this reason alone, Jammeh is instructing the National Assembly to convene immediately to extend his term of office,

Developing story .

Chief Justice Fagbenle tells APRC lawyer Edu Gomez Supreme Court can only convene in May

APRC supporters inside the Supreme Court Chambers
Chief Justice Fagbenle a central figure in Yaya Jammeh's futile attempt at nullifying the presidential election results of last December, has just informed lawyer Edu Gomez representing the outgoing ruling party of Yaya Jammeh, the APRC,  that the Supreme Court cannot be convened as presently constituted.

The earliest possible date for the Supreme Court to meet is in May which is consistent with the letter addressed to the Chief Justice of The Gambia by Nigeria's Acting Chief Justice.

By requesting Nigeria to provide judges in January, the Chief Justice was trying to lease Jammeh rather than advising him that to do so would alter the long standing schedule of freeing judges to sit on Gambia's Supreme Court in May and November.

Rearranging the judicial calendar to suit Jammeh's need of a despot lie Yaya Jammeh was only playing into the hands of desperate despot trying to further perpetuate his grip on power for his own selfish end.

Nigeria's decision to turn down the request was not only welcomed but it changed the both the dynamics and complexion of the political impasse for the benefit of the Gambian people who expressed their will to retire Jammeh in favor of the 51-year old real estate developer Adama Barrow. The May date throws Jammeh's plan into absolute chaos because after January 18th, Adama Barrow would have become the legitimate and effective President of the The Republic of The Gambia.  The question in everybody's mind now is what is the next crazy thing Jammeh will do?

Our advice to him is to go on national television concede defeat, apologize to, and ask for forgiveness from, the Gambian people for being selfish, greedy and petulant and commit those he will be leaving behind to collaborate with the incoming Barrow team to ensure a smooth and orderly transition to the New Order.  
     

Commander of State Guards disarmed by rebel faction before allowed to enter Fajara Army Barracks

Saul Badgie, Commander State Guards 
General Saul Badgie, Commander of the the elite State Guards and his entourage were disarmed before allowed entry at the Fajara military barracks, 8 miles from the Gambian capital city of Banjul.

His mission to the army barracks was to talk to soldiers who are opposed to Jammeh's plans to declare a state of emergency today using a staged disruption of the gathering of his supporters at the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of the outcome of the December 1st elections.

As reported during our previous blog post, a good portion of the military is opposed, not only to the planned state of emergency but to Jammeh's continued recalcitrant and obnoxious behavior in refusing to concede defeat to Adama Barrow.   The lines appear to have been drown between a section of the military that has clearly decided that it is time to throw their support behind President-elect Barrow and his new government that is still in the formation stages.

According to sources, General Saul Badgie and his entourage appeared rattled and visibly shaken by the incident.  They were allowed entry only after being stripped of their guns.  What he said to the troops once he gained entry into the barracks is unknown.  What is evident from this and similar encounters in the past several days that have gone unreported is that the cleavage between two rival camps within the military is more pronounced now than at any time in the 22 year history of Yaya Jammeh's army.

We will continue to monitor the situation as political events unfold including scenes at the Supreme Court where the Nigerian and Sierra Leonian judges that Chief Justice Fagbenle promised Yaya Jammeh have not reported for duty simply because they have not been recruited.  The Nigerian judicial authorities do not want the image of their country sullied any further than it has already been because of the role they played in weaponizing the Gambian judiciary at the expense of justice and the rule of law.

Chief Justice Fagbenle who was reported to have fled the country last week is still unaccounted for until this morning when he surfaced in Banjul to attend at a Supreme Court hearing..  And because he is central to the Supreme Court debacle, his recent unexplained absence dealt a severe blow to Jammeh's case of trying to have the Supreme Court nullify the elections.

In a related development, Yaya Jammeh convened a meeting at State House yesterday amid mounting evidence that his Supreme Court strategy has crumbled and to shore up the sagging confidence and morale of his staff who have grown increasing weary of recent developments.   He revealed to staff that he found evidence in IEC Chairman Alieu Momar Njie's phone that he was texting the results of the elections to Omar Jallow (OJ) before they were announced to the Gambian people as if this violates any law, if indeed it is true.

This is a developing story ....      

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.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jammeh's Supreme Court's strategy collapses as Nigerian judges flee the country

Jammeh receiving Buhari at State House 
Yaya Jammeh seems to be moving the goal posts as he gains confidence with every success that appears to gain him control of the narrative following his decision to reverse an earlier decision to concede defeat to Adama Barrow after results of the December 1st presidential elections clearly and indisputably favored the 51-year old real estate developer.

In his nationally televised speech in which he explained the reasons for rescinding his concession to the winner of the elections.  He declared his party's intention to file a petition with the Supreme Court of The Gambia to "nullify the results as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission and to call for fresh elections."  That was then.  This is now.

According to sources close to the law courts, Jammeh's petition instead of calling for fresh elections is now asking the Supreme Court to declare him the outright winner of the December 1st presidential elections, suggesting that his earlier position of calling for a do-over has changed over the one month period he's been able to dictate the pace and narrative of the electoral impasse.  Jammeh is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the elections were not free and fair and that he (Jammeh) won but was cheated out of a well deserved victory.  Declaring Jammeh the winner is a far cry from his earlier public position which, as far as can be ascertained, has not been publicly corrected thus leaving the general public in the dark and in a misleading fashion which is typical Yaya Jammeh.

Yaya Jammeh will be facing an even more insurmountable problem of putting together a legally-constituted Supreme Court whose membership is currently comprised of a sole Justice who happens to be the Nigerian Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle.  A minimum of five justices out of the full compliment of seven members can sit in judgement.  The challenge facing Jammeh and his chief headhunters (the Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecution and the Justice Minister) is to fill in, at least the four vacancies required to constitute a quorum.
Judge Dada and other Nigerian judges 

As we write this blog post, information is filtering that Chief Justice Fagbenle, who had earlier repatriated all the members of his family and movable properties to his native Nigeria, has himself fled The Gambia via the town of Basse in the Upper River (easternmost region of the country).  If confirmed, he will be escaping the glaring international spotlight that Jammeh's intransigence has brought to a few Nigerian judges and magistrates that have helped the dictatorship weaponize the Gambian judiciary to great effectiveness against opposition parties and opponents of the regime.

The recruitment huddles the regime must overcome appear to be growing as the scheduled date of 10th January for the sitting of the Supreme Court draws near which now appears to include the Chief Justice of Nigeria for reportedly denying clearance for a former Chief Justice of The Gambia, Emmanuel Agim, to take up the position as one of the judges of the Supreme Court.  The Nigerian government is obviously concerned about the image of the country as well its own image given the major role Nigeria is playing in Gambia current political impasse.

Attrition within the Nigerian judicial community in The Gambia is also taking its toll.   Last June, seven Nigerian judges and magistrates were recruited into the Gambian judiciary to add to the in-country stock.  According to sources, all but three Nigerian judges and magistrates have left the country.  The last remaining three are scheduled to leave the Gambia this Sunday adding to the headache of Jammeh and his APRC outgoing ruling party.  Unless miraculous happenings occur between now and next Tuesday when the Supreme Court is to convene, it will be difficult to see how Yaya Jammeh can pull the rabbit from the hat.    

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Residents fleeing the capital city of Banjul

Banjul - Barra ferry 
As the deadline approaches when Yaya Jammeh must decide whether he will leave voluntarily or be ejected from State House draws near, a nervous population in the capital city of Banjul and environs is rapidly moving out of harm's way in anticipation of an ECOWAS-led military action against what will be an illegal regime after the 18th January. Meanwhile, Yaya Jammeh, is still holed up at his official State House residence.

Unless Jammeh steps down and peacefully transfers power to the newly-elected Adama Barrow, the ECOWAS Commission has empowered member states to constitute a military force to be led by Senegal to enforce the decision of ECOWAS.
Banjulians fleeing to safety
Meanwhile, Jammeh is in the process of attempting to hire a minimum of four and a maximum of six mercenary Supreme Court judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone to deliberate on his party's Court petition demanding the annulment of the results of the December 1st presidential elections which was won by real estate developer Adama Barrow.

It is evident from recent statements of the Jammeh regime that the claims made by the Nigerian Chief Justice, Emmanuel Fagbenle, that the government has hired judges last July are blatantly false because no evidence has been provided neither by him nor the Minister of Justice to the contrary.   We continue to wait for proof that indeed Supreme Court judges have been hired in time for the 10th July Supreme Court sitting.

While ECOWAS prepares to exercise the military option, the Nigerian President and ECOWAS mediator Muhammadu Buhari has sent his Mediation Support Team (MST) to the Gambia to meet with stakeholders to ensure that a successful transfer of power takes place January 19th.  The MST's initial mission is the first phase of the preparatory and support work that will lead to a high level meeting of President Buhari and the stakeholders,

According to both Presidents Buhari and Macky Sall, a peaceful resolution of the political impasse is still preferred to the robust military option which is still on the table.  The choice is Jammeh's to make - go peacefully without preconditions (at least, as far as ECOWAS is concerned) or be dealt a severe blow.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Underestimate Jammeh's political skills at your peril

Coalition Leaders 
A Mauritania envoy visited Yaya Jammeh who is holed up in his bunker at State House, shuttling between safe houses, according to our sources, to pave the way for a planned visit to Banjul of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, president of Mauritania who is a friend and an ally. Mauritania was a member of ECOWAS until 2000 when it formally pulled out of the regional body.

The visit is seen as part what is being interpreted as Jammeh's two-pronged strategy of negotiating his way out of the political logjam he finds himself that will assure him of free from future prosecution for atrocities he is alleged to have committed while in office with Mauritania's help and support, barring which he will resort to a scorched earth by facing a possible ECOWAS military action and its likely outcome of death, destruction and mayhem.

Jammeh is not only reaching out to Mauritania but also to his friends in Guinea, Burundi, Sudan, Equatorial and Uganda.  There is a discernible pattern emerging from Jammeh's outreach efforts that suggests that some of Africa's so called strongmen are lining up behind their embattled friend. Jammeh's efforts should be discounted as desperate move by a desperate dictator.  He can inflict serious damage to the country's image - as if he's not already wreaked havoc -  and its future as he exits with guns blazing.

Last June, in a political rally outside the capital city of Banjul, Jammeh railed at the Mandinka ethic group with such vehemence and hatred by referring to them as "enemies" and "foreigners" and threatened to kill them one by one and place them "where even a fly cannot see them."  His speech attracted the attention of the Special Adviser of the U.N. Secretary General on Genocide and a strong rebuke resulting in being cited for "incitement" that could like to genocide.

The United Nations Secretary General's office invoked Rwanda and Bosnia in reminding Jammeh and the world "how incitement to violence has led to mass killings along identity line."  The UK government endorsed the United Nations' Adviser's condemnation of Yaya Jammeh as did Rwanda's New Times newspaper editorial entitled "The Mandinkas of The Gambia must be protected"with the suggestion that the world, including Yaya Jammeh, should draw lessons from Rwanda's experience.

There are unconfirmed reports that supporters of the outgoing ruling party of Jammeh are going around various localities - at least, in the urban areas of Greater Banjul - identifying supporters of Adama Barrow and his 7- political party coalition and marking their compounds with red paint, reminiscent of precursors to past atrocities against members of ethnic minorities - a very chilling development, if confirmed.

Jammeh lost the December 1st presidential elections to Adama Barrow in spectacular fashion and his concession speech that followed was equally spectacular, however short-lived.  These events seem so much in the distant past because of the absolute control Jammeh has in the narrative and his knack of headline-grabbing machinations like occupation of the Independent Electoral Commission's offices by the military, threats to its chairman that led to him fleeing to neighboring Senegal, filing an election petition at a Supreme Court that has not been properly constituted and sandbagging key installations, to name but a few examples that have kept the international press busy and its attention away from the transition team's activities.

Recently, his surrogates and sycophantic supporters have saturated social media with fake news announcing his escape to Conakry and the death by assassination of the president-elect, all to distract from the real and central issue about the illegitimacy of his continued occupation of State House. Jammeh carried out a constitutional coup d'etat the day he reneged on his concession to President-elect Adama Barrow.  Today's fake news should serve as a wake-up call that Jammeh will stop at nothing to impose his will on Gambia and Gambians in spite of the results of the December 1st elections.  The security of the president-elect and his immediate entourage must be secured at all cost and access to the former drastically curtailed.

For someone who, in our view, subverted the constitution the moment he reneged on his earlier decision to concede defeat to Adama Barrow, Jammeh is doing well for himself by his continuous deflection of attention away from the real story of historic proportion that Gambian voters wrote in December by retiring a brutal, corrupt and incompetent dictator using the ballot instead of the bullet. This important message to African dictators and to the rest of the world is being trampled upon by Jammeh and risk being lost in the shuffle with the inadvertent help of the victors of the presidential elections.

As a partner in our campaign against the dictatorship put it succinctly three weeks ago: "If little happens, (press statements will not suffice for much longer) the chances are the international media focus will shift to the next big thing, globally...and the eyes and ears of the world in Gambia will be lost."  We couldn't agree more.        

The true character of Yaya Jammeh

While continental Africa's smallest country is on the brink of a potentially devastating military intervention by ECOWAS troops caused entirely by Jammeh's intransigent behavior, the very same character is busy plotting on how to smuggle his loot out of one of Africa's poorest countries.

Yaya Jammeh's loot comprises of numerous of the world's most expensive luxury cars that includes a fleet of Rolls Royces  Maseratis and Bentleys. worth tens of millions of dollars - a collection of high performance cars that reminds us of his greed and vanity of a man who once accused of his predecessor of engaging in "flamboyant life-style" because he and his ministers rode in Mercedes Benz 200 as their official cars.

For 22 years, this former military police officer who, at the time of seizing power, had less than $ 10 in his bank account, is probably more financially solvent than the country he is ready to abandon for another country where he hopes to seek refuge from a population that would like to lay its hands on one of Africa's most prolific kleptocrat.

He used the public treasury as his personal piggy bank to amass wealth at the detriment of the Gambian people who became poorer under two decades of widespread corruption and an incompetent bureaucracy that fed off the crumbs left behind by Jammeh and a few of his cronies.

While Jammeh preoccupies the media by feeding it with fake news and other forms of distractions, such as mass arrests of people wearing T-shirts that say "Gambia has decided" and feigning escape to Conakry, the embattled Gambian dictator was, and is still, busy engaging a small circle of friends belonging to the African dictator's club to help him plot his escape while concurrently pretending to be engaging ECOWAS in seeking a peaceful resolution of the crisis that is entirely of his making.

Needless to say, by adopting this approach, he is exposing a country that is already on the verge of total bankruptcy by subjecting an already traumatized population to potential military intervention that can only put more Gambian lives in danger. From Jammeh's point of view, it is perfectly an acceptable proposition as long as the outcome will save his neck at the expense of everything else.

Greedy, dishonesty, corrupt, vanity, self-centered and meanness are a few of Jammeh's true character that are on full display since he lost his bid for a 5th term of office as president to Adama Barrow last December.    

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wishing Our Readers Happy 2017, a Peaceful and Prosperous Gambia

Happy 2017
After a brief hiatus over the holidays, we'd like to start 2017 with a holiday wish to all our readers and followers in social media and to thank each and everyone of you for your fidelity and the support you've given to us over the years which has manifested itself in the phenomenal growth in readership.

We pledge to continue to provide you with accurate and timely news and analysis of events as they occur.  

While wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2017, we are also praying for a peaceful resolution of a political stalemate brought about by the refusal of a single individual in the name of Yaya Jammeh to abide by the collective wishes of the majority of Gambian voters who chose Adama Barrow as their next president.

Despite world-wide condemnation of Mr. Jammeh's decision to rescind his earlier decision to accept the results of the presidential elections, Jammeh has decided to contest the election results rather than gracefully accepting defeat in an election universally acclaimed as free, fair and credible.  He has filed a petition with the Supreme Court in an attempt to get a favorable ruling that will effectively nullify a perfectly legal and just election result.

Of course, Jammeh's illegal act of defiance has resulted in a corresponding and appropriate response from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a threat of military action to enforce the will of the Gambian people which could easily be averted by Jammeh deciding once more to reverse himself and accept the verdict of the voters.  Thus far, there is little indication that he is ready to reverse course, but has instead dug in his heels by insisting on proceeding with the Supreme Court route - a court that is yet to be properly constituted to pass legal or constitutional muster.

Whether 2017 will start off in a peaceful and tranquil manner will depend on one man - Yaya Jammeh.  If he decides to come to his senses and accept the results of the December 1st elections, he would have saved Gambians the pain and misery of being subjected to military action never seen since 1981.

If he acts otherwise, he will plunge the country into a carnage that will set the country further down the disinvestment and destructive path he has paved for us during his 22-year tyrannical rule.

We hope and pray that he comes to his senses and allow a peaceful transfer of power to Adama Barrow as the legitimate leader of the Republic of The Gambia so that serious work can commence to start addressing the serious problems facing practically every aspect of Gambian life caused by one of Africa's most repressive, corrupt and incompetent regimes, ever.