A critical analysis of the most recent popular uprisings in Africa will reveal that the only ones that were successful (such as Libya and Ivory Coast) are either endowed with natural resources or are of strategic importance to some world powers. As a result of this, the people of those countries received support from external powerful forces/nations such as NATO and France during their uprisings. On the other hand, the uprising in Burundi failed largely because it is the second poorest country on earth, has no natural resources and is of little or no strategic importance to the rest of the world. Consequently, Burundians were left to the mercy of President Nkurunziza.
The Gambia is not like Libya but very much like Burundi. It is on the list of the 10 poorest countries in the world, it has no natural resources and is of little or no strategic significance to the powers that matter. So when Gambians get butchered in an uprising, do not expect any meaningful external interventions apart from the usual diplomatic global condemnations. This is not because they are scared of Yahya Jammeh, they just don’t have any interest to intervene. Like the Burundians, the beautiful and peaceful Gambian people are left at the mercy of Jammeh.
My prediction on the April saga of The Gambia is that no amount of demonstration, condemnation or pressure will remove Yahya Jammeh from office. In the contrary, Jammeh will exploit this opportunity to cause as much damage to the opposition parties as possible and he would instill as much terror and fear to the Gambian people as possible. However, common sense will finally prevail and we will soon go back to the pre April 14 status qua which is business as usual.
Nonetheless, the April saga is a significant event with important lessons. The fact that the UDP is the biggest opposition party in the country and yet they could be so easily denied of a basic constitutional right to freedom of peaceful demonstration raises an important question for me. Why did the people of The Gambia fail to come out in huge numbers to show solidarity with the UDP even though majority of them are facing serious hardships, trials and tribulations under Jammeh’s regime and are craving for a political change?
A candid answer is that Gambians are divided into UDP, PPP, NRP, PDOIS, GPDP, GMC, GDC and the group waiting for a coalition candidate. Does anyone really believe that intelligent people like Gambians would participate in a national uprising without first knowing who would take over the leadership of the country if Jammeh goes? It is just like calling people to jump from a ship without providing them with neither a boat (an alternative to Jammeh) nor life jackets (guarantee of their safety). Frankly, I know Gambians not only as a peaceful people but extremely smart. I believe that if the opposition parties had agreed on a coalition earlier on and there was an identified and credible coalition leader, the outcome of the April saga would have been totally different. Unity is strength and divided we are doomed. Let us face reality and accept who we are. We are neither SUICIDERS nor a violent people/killers. For God’s sake let us not allow Jammeh to turn us into that.
There is one and only one right thing for the opposition parties to do and that is to nominate one candidate to run against Jammeh. The procrastination must stop immediately. Even if there are electoral reforms, an alliance is the surest way to defeat Jammeh in a peaceful political change. To boycott the elections is not an option because Jammeh will simply continue in power as an unopposed presidential candidate. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Remember that there is an ECOWAS protocol that stipulates that no changes are to be made to electoral laws six months prior to elections. Therefore, coming together immediately will give you more power to demand for a reform of the remaining biased electoral laws before 1st June. This will also give those of us who are sitting on the fence the courage and incentive to not only jump down but to play more active roles by contributing our little resources and expertise to the electoral process.
Perhaps the most important reason for a united front is that there are hundreds of thousands of patriotic and God-fearing Gambians toiling and suffering in our Armed and Security Services as well as the Civil Services who the most fed up of Jammeh’s regime and therefore the most eager for a political change. But how on earth do you expect them to sacrifice their jobs to join an opposition that is as divided as the Israelis and Palestinians?
Long live the Gambia and long live the peace and security.
Written By Lamin Gano