Caution, caution, caution!! Politics is art of managing the possible. As Senghore or Abdou Diouf is reported to have said, “booga dem tahoola muna dem”. Wanting to go does not mean that you can go.

barrow-adamaIt is only a week since the elections and less than a week since Jammeh was forced to concede defeat by his OWN military chiefs. Now that the joy and relief is settling, the release of Lawyer Darboe and the UDP members on bail (not unconditional release) is bringing out the suffering of those imprisoned unjustly. In such cases it is natural for relief  to turn to anger and thirst for vengeance on the perpetrator. These feelings are perfectly justified BUT the situation is still very unstable and volatile. 

I shared the feelings of outrage that Jammeh should not answer for his terrible crimes and simply be allowed to live freely in Kanilai with his looted assets. At a normal human level it’s unthinkable. However this is early days and there has been no transfer of power yet. The so called Jolla hegemony made the decision of their own accord to disobey Jammeh and effectively unseat him. The heads of the military and security apparatus are in control NOT Jammeh. Obviously they are uncertain of their future and need to know where they stand. From reports, they made the decision to spare the Gambia from a bloodbath and are to be praised for it. They hold the key to the security of the Gambia and are essential to a peaceful transition. Jammeh may be delusional and irrational but the these people are not. They considered the options and a made a rational decision to hand  over to the president-elect Adama Barrow. Why should they go back on their decision ? Why go back under Jammeh. Which fool would make that choice now with Senegal, and the international community guaranteeing the transition?

On the other hand they need to be sure of their own future, given that few of them have clean hands. They hold the winning hand right now in that if they don’t uphold the security of Gambia it will go up in flames. Who else can deliver a smooth and peaceful transition? They have Jammeh under their control and it is in theirs and the interest of every Gambian that they continue to do so. It was a palace coup (or internal solution) that has allowed the election of Adama Barrow to stand. This may be already happening, but the coalition need to reach out to them, calm their fears and ensure that they stay on side. They also need to negotiate with the transition government and be assured of something in return. This is real politics. Each side needs the other right now. Neither can go it alone. Just like Mandela and De Klerk when faced by a similar situation.

Talks of inquiries, prosecuting  Jammeh etc are premature and could spark a disaster. Prosecuting Jammeh is desirable, but not a priority. In fact it’s a big distraction from the most important issue of saving HMS Gambia from hitting the rocks. The captain may have been taken into custody but the ship is still on the same course. It’s not the time to be discussing what is to be done with the captain! Salaries have to be paid, the country has to be governed and business has to go on. How many months do we have reserves for? One, two? It is critical that the coalition under president-elect Barrow work with the current ruling military heads to deliver a peaceful transition. This is the greatest priority right now. Everything else is secondary.

On the basis of the facts Mama Kandeh and Adama Barrow both stated that there would be no witch hunt and that the law would be allowed to take it’s course. This means that other pressing issues must be addressed first. Whatever Jammeh has done he can be prosecuted at a later date. This may not suit Madam Tambajang, BUT a peaceful handover is the most important thing right now, and to raise the issue of prosecution is understandable but irresponsible. The situation is far too sensitive for such talk by anyone.

Hardly a week into the potential handover the coalition unity is unraveling. The issue is not WHO will lead, but that Gambia is returned to stability, security and democracy. If this is not achieved over the next few months ousting Jammeh will have been in vain. The existing military heads will have no choice but to take control under the genuine threat of a security breakdown. Who will blame them, when our own genuinely elected president and coalition have failed to stay united and start squabbling?

The biggest problem we Gambians have is unity and discipline. Once made a decision has been made it needs to be maintained until the situation permits it to be discussed and reviewed. This is not the moment for old rivalries and ambitions to re-surface. I have great respect and appreciation for the fearless Madam Tambajang’s services to the Gambian people. Indeed she has played a key role and been an inspiration to most of us. I’m begging her not to throw away the victory at this stage by raising such controversial issues. Focus on what is possible here, now, 1 week after the elections. Rome was not built in  day.

Concerns have been raised about Jammeh retreating to Casamance linking up with the rebels etc. In the past yes, but the rebels are not fools. They cannot be comfortable with or trust him. Nor can they risk the full military might of Senegal. Given the money and weapons, I’m sure that they would take them and lie low, but fight for Jammeh? The time has passed and they know it. Besides Senegal will have prepared and be watching for any such movement from Kanilai. They would be fully justified in destroying such a convoy whether in Gambia or just inside their border.

From my perspective? The greatest danger to the peaceful transition is disunity and squabbling among the politicians. It has taken 22 years to get to this point, largely due to the self same politicians and their self interest. For God’s sake, please SHUT UP and let the president-elect and the existing powers work towards a peaceful transition. The next 3-4 weeks will be the most critical and sensitive in the history of our beloved nation. Those who will not desist will have not only the blood of Jammeh’s atrocities on their hands but of future generations because they failed to maintain loyalty and discipline when it was essential.

From all reports Mr Barrow is the best man for the job and has been freely and fairly elected against the will of a brutal dictator. Please let’s support him and give him the chance to fulfil a very delicate and difficult task. The World is watching and applauding us. So many countries are ready to jump to our aid in any way possible, notably Senegal. Let’s not disappoint them and disgrace ourselves over our dirty laundry. If so then Shakespeare’s words will become true.. “the fault lies not in our stars, but ourselves”. 

Written By A Patriot

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