The Gambia will be going to the polls on the first of December. Public hysteria for a change is at its highest so far. The political landscape has shifted. The oppositions instead of brawling over minor irreconcilable incoherencies have sorted to put aside their difference to take on the common enemy, the tyrannical dictatorship of Jammeh.
It hasn’t however sunk into the consciousness of the masses that election, at least the presidential one, is just a formality to legitimize the continuity of Jammeh’s dictatorship. He hasn’t given up power for four consecutive terms. There should be no illusion that he will give-in this time around. He has much to lose today far more than he did a decade or two ago. Jammeh, we all know has been successful in deteriorating all public institutions to consolidate his tyrannical tendencies.
Jammeh has so much to lose.
Imagine the wealth he has amassed making him the single most rich Gambian alive, the reported foreign investments, the dominance of the public lives of Gambians, the commanding power, the battalion of loyal soldiers, the power to decide who to hire and who to fire, the luxurious cars, the endless public lands under his custody, the free labour and enslavement of Gambian people he enjoys, the endless spendings and the conditional loyalties of religious leaders amongst others are some of the things he has to lose. If you further put into perspective that Jammeh is academically unfit to receive international appointments after leaving office, one should be convinced that so much is at stake for him. Election certainly is no means to kick him out of power.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Little of the IEC could be assumed to be independent. The head of the institution is handpicked by Jammeh himself. That is a clear indication of the fact that the players in the political scene in the Gambia are not on an equal footing. In any game where the judge is handpicked by one of the contenders, fair-play is the first casualty. Jammeh has succeeded in maintaining this leverage which gives him an edge over any potential rival.
Many have contemplated on how Jammeh could rig the elections. A convincing argument is the above mentioned leverage he has. Mr Njie of the IEC is conditioned by the privilege of being appointed by Jammeh to sway election results in his favour.
The coalition of oppositions
The way forward is the question we should be asking ourselves. Consistently living in bubbles of optimism rather than realism is not the way forward. Before being woken up by the news of jet another term for Jammeh, I believe it is high time to build on the foundation of the unity that was shown by the coming together of the opposition. Electoral reforms were supposed to be conditions on which the opposition should have agreed to take part in the December elections. By coming this far and the little hope of being able to change the anticipated Jammeh re-election through the ballot, the way forward is to dominate the local government elections. Dominating the National Assembly and local government offices is a good start in weakening Jammeh’s power. Opposition forming majority in parliament have the capacity to pass new reforms and condition public officials to follow on the principles of democracy.
Therefore, for every constituency, a single common opposition candidate should be empowered to run against the current ruling party’s chosen candidates. This is the only means of seeing a significant change.
It is high time Gambians realise that the tyranny that has drained the country of its strong capacities is here to stay at least for another term. However, people should not lose hopes of democratic means to induce realistic changes. The approaches are the only ones that should be redefined and recalibrated.
Written By the Engineer