Congratulations to you Pa Nderry and all who have supported or contributed to The Struggle. The election of Adama Barrow is a huge step towards freedom from the tyranny of Jammeh and his regime. Al Jazeera have hailed this as a defining moment in African history where a dictator has been voted out of office by popular vote and the the opposition poised to take power. However they have also expressed caution that it should not be taken for granted. This is Africa, not Europe or America.
Special congratulations to IEC chairman for declaring the Mr Barrow to be the winner. He honoured his promise of free and fair elections, amid rumours that he had been paid $450,000 to declare Jammeh winner whatever the outcome. As reported soldiers were sent to prevent him announcing the real results, but the orders were not executed. After so many years of self serving yes men it is refreshing to see a man of his word who fears God. We hope that many more Gambians will follow his example and step forward to re-build our homeland. It’s possible and it’s overdue.
There is no doubt that the Jammeh regime is finished but there is no guarantee of a peaceful handover. Reports from the Soldier indicate that there is a spilt within the armed forces between the diehards like Saul Badjie, the moderates and the don’t know/wait and see brigade (who are simply refusing to obey orders). An imminent flash point is the orders to disarm all Mandinka soldiers. As civilians we may not understand the danger of a shoot out happening which could spread like wild fire throughout the country. It could happen in seconds if ONE soldier refuses to surrender his weapon and opens fire. Serious conflicts have broken out in this situation. One soldier, one bullet! One match in a petrol station can burn down the neighbourhood.
What has changed since Friday’s declaration of Adama Barrow as winner? Nothing much.
As far as I’m aware Mr Barrow has not appeared publicly, nor any other members of the coalition. It’s been suggested that he is under the protection of Senegalese special forces. True or otherwise Jammeh is reported to have a hit list on which Mr Barrow could come quite high. He’s always had a habit of killing his opponents, why change now faced by total loss and disgrace?
Ousainou Darboe and other UDP supporters are still imprisoned with no immediate hint of their release. They have not been officially mentioned. Will he allow them to survive? Hopefully and we pray so, but no guarantees of their safety.
The NIA and PIU are still armed and operations, as are Saul Badjie and the State House guards.
The Gambian Constitution calls for a 90 day handover period. Meanwhile Jammeh is still legally President, in full control of the State, armed forces and the Judiciary. The APRC are still the majority in Parliament and have the legal power to pass more laws favouring his immunity. Naturally the Gambian people will not accept his continuation as president, but the current mood of jubilation could turn to anger and lead to a bloody confrontation. The more so because there could be armed soldiers on both sides fuelled by rage and a thirst for revenge.
In the event of a breakdown in law and order he still has the legal power to declare a State of Emergency and suspend civilian government. This a strategy of the English Parliament called “kicking the ball into the long grass where it will take time to be found”. Naturally this would further enrage the coalition supporters with disastrous consequences. Judging by reports of Saul Badjie watching his soldiers beating civilians at Kairaba Ave last Tuesday night this something he would love to provoke.
As reported in Freedom, Senegal and the Ecowas States have warned Jammeh if this happens they will intervene and ensure his exit. As learned from the 1981 coup however military intervention can cost innocent lives as well as many in the military. As in the ’81 coup weapons can get into the hands of undesirables who might use them to settle scores. Weapons in the hands of angry mobs with grudges to settle is a recipe for genocide. With suffering and torture fresh in the minds of so many, forgiveness, could easily turn to blind vengeance. Jammeh has been stoking tribal hatred a long time and would love to see it break out, especially now he has been defeated.
Common sense would suggest that he would take good advice and step down peacefully as pleaded by his wife and mother. His track record so far has been to do the exact opposite regardless of the consequences until they hit him. He is mentally unstable and unpredictable surrounded by lots of weapons and a few “die hard” loyal fanatics. Evidence suggests that Saul Badjie is a competent operator who knows all about the Gambia’s security. He’s officially co-president with everything to lose and nothing to gain by the handover. This team should not be underestimated.
Overall The outlook for Gambians under President elect Barrow looks bright and very hopeful. However it’s worth bearing in mind that although the regime is dying and the president with it, it’s not yet DEAD and BURIED. Jammeh and Saul between them have the capacity to still cause mischief and bloodshed. Everyone needs to keep calm and stay watchful.
In short, let coalition supporters avoid any excuse for a confrontation, stay calm and if bullets start flying near anyone get down on the ground or take cover. Sorry to strike a negative note in the midst of the celebrations, but it’s not yet over. Let’s not get drunk before parties really begun.
God Bless Gambia
Written By A Concerned Gambian