By Ebrima G. Sankareh, Editor-in-Chief
Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK— For two decades they were exiled Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh’s rubber-stamp National Assembly, notoriously prolific in decreeing draconian laws and entrenched constitutional clauses premised on calculated malice and political vendetta to suppress, oppress and potentially, obliterate political rivals who unquestionably exhibited greater charisma, finesse and wielded much more gravitas.
Speaker Bojang with Exiled Despot, Yaya Jammeh
Case in point is the despot’s mid-night fixing of age limits regarding the Presidency and the vice Presidency to hijack the political landscape; ominous legal parameters that that now signify devastating ramifications for Adama Barrow’s newly elected coalition government vis-à-vis the lingering controversy that now, unfortunately, surrounds Madam Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang’s VP candidacy.
Absent the Jammeh-sanctioned National Assembly’s criminal complicity in legislating such bad laws, the money, time and resources spent on this matter, could have been averted but no, and probably never! This is Jammeh’s Gambia where sycophancy and a beggar culture have been the surest paths to riches; a kleptocratic system that encourages and feeds on a magic solution to riches and journalists who dare to question such parochial narrowness are sent to hell with a barrage of cowardly bullets often followed by Jammeh’s own remorseless sarcasms. “My soldiers are so professional that when they shoot, they never miss” were the disgraced leader’s irksome remarks following Ousman Sillah’s failed assassination assault by his soldiers.
Today, some of the accomplices are cracked chatterboxes flooding Cyberspace with unnerving confessions of the complex anatomy of Jammeh’s assassination schemes. Their former military chauffeur, Bai Lowe, now an exile in Germany; has thus far, provided the most chilling yet withering indictment of Jammeh’s remorseless barbarity with revelations that can send the emotionally weak to a psychotherapist. To listen to Bai Lowe‘s blusters and not break down, one must be very, very strong, and the more I question the cause of the hatred that plunged Gambia into this madness, the more confuse I become.
Significantly, while Madam Tambang was President Barrow’s first named-Cabinet official, she could not still be sworn in, thanks to the mischiefs of Yaya Jammeh and most of these MPs, majority of whom were more ignorant in behaviour than the lunatics consigned to the Campama Psychiatric Unit, the difference being that for Jammeh’s spineless MPs, their lunacy was a self-inflicted pathology largely caused by greed; a cancer that had permeated deep inside the fibre and fabric of Jammeh’s regime and the stories emerging from the Finance ministry recently alone, provide ample evidence of this irredeemable malignancy. To paraphrase J.J. Rawlings, ours is reminiscent of a broken locomotive speeding towards a collapsed cliff and maybe one Friday, the Imams should declare a day against greed and corruption and call for a National Day of prayers to cleanse Gambia of dishonest and corrupt leaders.
Ironically, in a textbook case of what jurists would characterise “plea bargaining”, The Gambia Echo has gathered that early Tuesday morning; exactly at 10:00am Gambian time, the National Assembly will convene an extra-ordinary session to abolish the age limitation law barring any Gambian above 65 years to be President and vice President; the idiomatic sword of Damocles, that now hangs over the head of Fatou Jallow Tambajang’s candidacy.
In actuality, the same age law continues to visibly hamstring Adama Barrow’s performance as was evident in his inauguration at the 52 Independence Anniversary where a named but unsworn VP could not be formally introduced using the formally-sanctioned political register befitting the majesty of the office lest the Head of state makes legal blunders. Imagine that for a regime that promises democratic miracles!
According to our highly-placed and credible sources, Gambian legislators will also abolish the exorbitant NAM Nomination fees for candidates running for the corrupted law-making body; among the penultimate laws they decreed before their disgraced leader was defeated in the December election that eventually saw him banished to Equatorial Guinea where, he now nervously contemplates his gloomy fate. Our sources say Adama Barrow’s coalition government used the MP nomination fee reduction as a political inducement or plea bargain, so they too, can be motivated to change the law thus allowing his VP pick to be sworn in according to law.
A highly-placed source that begged anonymity reports that when the Assembly junks both laws from The Gambia’s statutes books later today, President Barrow will formally announce Jallow Tambajang as his Vice Presidential pick no later than Wednesday and then either on Thursday or Friday, she will be sworn in alongside Information Minister: Demba Ali Jawo, Higher Education minister: Badara Alieu Joof, Works & Infrastructure Minister: Bai Lamin jobe, Basic Education Minister: Claudiana Ayo Cole and Health & Social Welfare Minister: Saffie Lowe Ceesay.
Crucially, even though their master, the despot of Kanilai is now exiled, his blood-stained party—APRC; the successor to the AFPRC junta that ousted the PPP regime of Sir Dawda Jawara, still enjoys numeral supremacy in the National Assembly. The APRC has some 48 MPs only 5 of whom are nominated by Jammeh compared to only 3 MPs from the opposition. And of the only 3 opposition MPs, 2 are Independent and 1 from Hamat Bah’s National Reconciliation Party.
However, instead of using their numerical superiority to legislate good, progressive laws that will catapult Gambia into a brighter future, these NAMS as they love to be called, were complicit in major crimes such as granting general indemnity to criminals who butchered Gambian schoolchildren on April 10-/11, 2000, only for holding public demonstrations over the killing of a fellow student.
If that were not enough, their most heinous crime punctuates the finale of Jammeh’s political fate in Gambian politics when they, without the slightest provocation, quickly promulgated into law an absurd emergency edict simultaneously extending their tenure so the despot will continue to intimidate and potentially, butcher en masse, innocent citizens. In the ensuing political melodrama or crisis, several thousand Gambians, mainly women and children, fled into neighbouring nations and there are reports of deaths as nervous citizens joined the exodus leaving behind an edgy nation teetering on the brink of political cataclysm. One wonders if some of these lawmakers should not also face criminal charges for these serious crimes that almost set Gambia ablaze. How do you feel?