The Gambia: President Mahama and Gambia’s Tyranny & State-Sanctioned Terror

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By Mathew K Jallow, Madison, Wisconsin

In the aftermath of the aborted effort to restore democracy and rule of law in the Gambia, the regional body charged with ensuring political stability and economic integration, did something rather dramatic and an antithesis to the objectives of the organization. The recent visit to the Gambia by ECOWAS chairman, Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama, to solidify diplomatic relations with Yahya Jammeh’s murderous regime, highlights the pathology of indifference that is so pervasive among the cabal of African leaders. Clearly, President John Mahama must have buried his head in the sand to be so criminally clueless about the gristly crimes sanctioned by the Gambia’s military regime, or else, in him, we are dealing with a clear case of lethargy to the borderline genocide in existence in the Gambia. In either case, the unflattering dimension of President Mahama’s solidarity visit to the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, must be seen against the backdrop of the slaughter of forty-four would-be Ghanaian immigrants to Spain in 2005. The carnage on that day so long ago, has never been fully investigated to Ghanaians and Gambians satisfaction, and even as third Ghana president since that senseless slaughter, President John Mahama’s visit resurrects many questions and charges of bribery by Yahya Jammeh. Gambians are all too aware of Yahya Jammeh’s use of monetary bribery as primary instrument of securing political influence and international detachment from Gambia’s long history of state-sanctioned murders and mayhem. President Mahama’s sickening appeasement of the Gambian butcher, Yahya Jammeh, is a shameful and disgusting undermining of the credibility of ECOWAS as an instrument of empowering its vast, impoverished citizens. For far too long, both ECOWAS and the AU have served the interest of African leaders, rather than its citizens. This is a self-serving abuse of office and needs to end. Africans, and in this case, Gambians, deserve more.

The gallant effort to return democracy and rule of law to Gambia suffered a devastating blow, but this dark hour in Gambia’s history has, more than ever, brought citizens across the globe together around the common cause of regime change in ways that truly reflect their suffering and burning desire for political change. But, no sooner had the gunfire at the Gambia’s State House stopped, than the Gambia’s boy-scout military and security forces, still in denial of the brutality and dysfunction of the regime, were, once again, forced into swearing allegiance to the source of the Gambia’s two decades of death and destruction; Yahya Jammeh. This infantile behavior of the Gambia’s military and security forces was, of course, the manifestation of their collective low self-esteem, due largely to their lack of education, political awareness, and confidence in their individual self-worth. This is because Yahya Jammeh has for so many years systematically whittled down the Gambia’s military and security forces of its best and brightest, leaving behind mostly his fellow tribesmen and women, who pose no threat to his grip on imperial power. But, notwithstanding Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama’s apparent manifestation of intellectual myopia, moral cowardice and complete indifference to the military regime’s and Yahya Jammeh’s barbarity, Gambians at home and across the world will never relent in their commitment to save Gambian lives by removing the country’s sadistic military regime, by whatever means necessary, regardless of what ECOWAS and the AU think. For these two institutions, which shoulder blame for the indifference to Gambia’s continuing carnage, to write the rules of the game, is an extraordinary effort to deter Gambians from liberating their country of the scourges of state-sanctioned brutality. It is, needless to say, a strategy unlikely to have an effect on the broader Gambian perspective of regime change.

The Gambia’s festering carnage offers a repudiation of President Mahama’s gratuitous stunt at efforts to straitjacket Gambians into mindless submission to state brutality and the sickening abstraction of Gambia’s reality that is so prevalent among the international community. Most Gambians recognize President John Mahama as just another African spectacle of ineptitude and incompetence, and his country Ghana, a flagship of clueless leadership drowning in corruption. The bottom-line is this, if ECOWAS lacks empathy for what Gambians endure under the military dictatorship, Gambians will have no compulsion in ever accepting the regional body’s ground-rules as both unreasonable and brazen disregard of the existential threat the ruthless regime poses to the integrity of the Gambian state. The emerging political paradigm compels organizations like the AU and ECOWAS to encourage political change that supports citizens intellectual and economic development, and if that fails, to force it. And after twenty years, and hundreds of Gambians and non-Gambians executed and murdered, thousands incarcerated and thousands more fled the country, Gambians see no redeeming grace for the military regime and are in-fact unforgiving to a regime that has inarguably caused so much death and destruction to Africa’s formerly most peaceful nation. But, having failed this time to restore the rule of law, Gambians have more arrows in their quiver. If the powerful international dissident movement has its way, Yahya Jammeh will be barred from contesting the 2016 presidential elections, under the pain of Burkina Faso type popular rebellion. Hopefully, the home political establishment too recognizes the futility in contesting rigged elections they can never win. A consensus between the political establishment at home and abroad and the international dissident movement is necessary to bring this into fruition. Gambians await our collective action to deliver them from this evil regime.

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