No Unconditional Amnesty to Jammeh and Gang of Bandits

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By Phoday Saikouba Jarjussey, London, UK

Fellow Gambians, allow me to share a few thoughts with you following some way forward out of the political imbroglio in our country as my modest contribution to the national conversation now taking place about the future.

Having listened to what hopefully is the last sound of Jammeh’s evil voice on GRTS at 01.59 am announcing his belated departure with his usual arrogance and pomposity, I await with bated breath the fine details of the terms and conditions on which he is being allowed to leave.

In the first place, even though our overriding priority  must be to see the back of Jammeh without one drop of blood being shed, this must be achieved without any material; political and socio-economic loss to the Gambian people and nation;
Jammeh and his clique, members of his Cabinet; Armed and Security Forces; including the Police and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) etc., must not be granted any unconditional amnesty and the proviso for them to be individually and collectively made accountable from 22 July 1994 to date for all their crimes against the Gambian people must be set in stone and remain firmly on record for future reference and further remedial action;

So there must be no guarantee given for them to be immune from being prosecuted notwithstanding their locum, or appear before any lawfully established  Commission (s)/ Body/Bodies whosesoever to be held accountable and answerable as and when required and as appropriate;

All their illegally acquired monies, properties; movable and immovable assets at whatever locum, inside or outside The Gambia, must be frozen  and returned to their rightful owners,  the Gambian people and nation without pre – conditions;

In the specific case of Jammeh, being the Chief “Dirimo”, his main conduit to theft, Kanalai Group Investment (KGI) and all the state assets he took from us such as Kotu Central Workshop and Abuko Central Abattoir, monies stolen from the systematic raids of the Central Bank, the Trust Bank and the pillaging of key Parastatals such as the  Gambia Ports Authority  (GPA) including the revenue generated from the Ferry Services and especially the rich takings from the Yellitenda-Bambatenda  service; The Gambia Telecommunications Company  (GAMTEL); The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation  (SSHFC); The Gambia Public Transport Corporation  (GPTC) NAWEC, and the monopoly of all businesses like the sale/supply of essential commodities: rice; meat; bread; vegetables to the hotels – cruelly and effectively putting our hard working industrious entrepreneur “nako” women out of business; petrol and other fuel products; phone cards, telephone and internet services (also used as a means of political control and suppression ); and indeed the inexhaustive list of other areas of the national economy must be accounted for and rightfully returned to the Gambian people. Jammeh’s claim and assertion that he personally owns the country must be reversed and the illegal gains made by him recovered.

His human rights abuses; the use of torture; arbitrary arrests and, detention without trial; murders and extra-judicial killings; the use of violence through the Army; the notorious NIA-National Intelligence Agency, and even foreign mercenaries to instil fear and as a means of political control and suppression meant that the entire Gambian population, was incarcerated in one huge prison for over two decades under Jammeh’s watch. A very sad situation and a profoundly, profusely formidable indictment of the regime and it’s master;

Meanwhile;  definitive measures must be taken and urgent arrangements be made and put in place with ECOWAS and others to embark on a root and branch reform of The Gambia National Army (GNA) and all other Security Services; plus the complete demilitarisation of the country at all Barracks,  particularly in the Greater Banjul Area, Kanilai and wherever deemed appropriate;

Constitutional and institutional reforms across the board, including the Civil Service; the Judiciary; the Banks and all other Financial Institutions; the Parastatals and key Ministries and Departments  must start as key priorities. Specifically, we must ensure that we have trained and experienced independent  judicial personnel to facilitate the dispensation of justice and thereby avoid the use of foreign mercenary judges as has happened in the past;

The ban on private radio stations; the state sponsored arson attacks on them and the harassment  and arrests of journalists; sometimes even their murder as in the case of Deyda Hydara must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice; and such activities become a thing of the past, to ensure the freedom of information in a politically pluralistic environment and society.

In all these, the new government must concentrate on sound policies and programmes and eschew negativity at all times.

Strict Ministerial and Civil Service Codes of Conduct and Practice must be laid down to ensure and enhance  good governance and proper administrative practice at all levels and at all times and similar Service Rules established in all other public institutions.

The private sector and other agencies must be encouraged and supported by the government to help spread prosperity across society without hindrance . Government cannot do everything.

In the area of Foreign policy, let us welcome the fact that we’re no longer a pariah state lurking in some form of “spending isolation” and taking our rightful place on the international stage and in the international community, beginning with our sub-regional and regional organisations like ECOWAS and the AU and work out our way back into the Commonwealth and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

At the multilateral level, we must forge a new and fresh relationship with the Bretton Woods institutions,  the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank; the European Union (EU); the United Nations  ( UN) and others like the African Development Bank  (ADB); the Organisation of the Islamic Conference  (OIC); the Arab Bank for Economic Development  (BADEA), etc.

And at the bilateral level, we must begin nearer home with Senegal with whom we share the same umbilical cord and are inextricably linked with by blood, history, culture and geography. More of that in due course elsewhere another time.

We must repair the untold damage done to our socio-economic and political relations with the  West;  particularly the USA and the United Kingdom; the Nordic countries, France and Germany; not to forget the People’s Republic of China our very good relationship with whom was marred and indeed abruptly broken  by Jammeh’s petulant  recognition of Taiwan for his own personal gains: Kanilai Farms and much more besides!
Then there is Saudi Arabia; Kuwait and other Middle East countries.

   Oh as an afterthought, what happened to the tractors from India?

The Gambia should be grateful to the international community for standing by her in the hour of greatest need, but should also be proud of what she has achieved as a nation and as a people by getting rid of a monster who arrived through the barrel of the gun; making him exit through the ballot box, and most learn-and so must everyone concerned-a very painful and salutary lesson from the tyranny and impunity visited upon her under Jammeh’s regime and vow and ensure that nothing like it is ever allowed to happen again.

The Smiling Coast is back in earnest, ready to forge ahead, friendship with the world.

To this effect, there is an abundance of goodwill towards The Gambia and we must sustain the same. Let’s seize the moment and opportunity with both hands.

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