I wish to take this opportunity to respond to Mr. Samsudeen Sarr’s December 26, 2016, letter to your paper, and also directly address a few friends in Jammeh’s inner circle still supporting him. Having been in the trenches (so to speak) with Samsudeen Sarr, I believe that he is a better person than he is currently portraying. I can understand that the first instinct of a military officer with his training and background is to double-down on loyalty and compliance. But these military virtues can easily degenerate to vices if one is dealing with an illegitimate authority and diabolical orders.
All, especially those in the military, need to recognize that Jammeh is at his weakest because the Gambian people are not behind him. This might sound cliché, but it’s very true. He first exhibited his weakness when he tried to bribe the military with promotions. He is also constantly pandering to the military by falsely claiming that the Coalition does not trust the military and wants Gambia to be invaded. Actually, he is the one who does not trust the military (hence the promotion bribery); and he is the one who wants the country to be invaded because he is refusing to honor the will of the Gambian people who voted in the elections that he organized.
As I said before, Jammeh by himself is insignificant. He can have an arsenal of weapons in the country, but without people to order to operate the weapons, the weapons are of no use to him. The military has to realize that Jammeh is not protecting them. They are protecting Jammeh. Jammeh cannot protect them from an invading force. Ultimately, the only way they can be protected from an invading force is for Jammeh to step down voluntarily. Instead, he has opted to put the military and our families in harm’s way by attempting to usurp the choice of the majority of the Gambian electorate.
I believe there are still some very honorable members of the military who hold sway over officers and are telling Jammeh that they will cease supporting him once his mandate from the people expires. We (on the side of truth and peace) must not demonize these gallant soldiers. Matter of fact, we should respect their position and hold them accountable. We should support them and assure them that we have the savvy to distinguish between the actions of a Commander-in-Chief and those of soldiers carrying out orders from a legitimate authority.
We should also proactively engage them and remind them that they are also Gambians and should not under any circumstances be caught in between the Gambian people and Jammeh. Their oath is to defend the Gambian people and its Constitution and not to Jammeh per se. We cannot afford to push them to Jammeh’s corner by default. We must not be lulled into complacency, waiting for January 18, 2017, for these people to switch sides automatically. Ultimately, there are only two sides in this debacle: the voice of the Gambian people (which the army is also a part of) and outgoing President Jammeh. It is in that vein that I am appealing to people like Sarr to quit perpetuating this notion that Jammeh was not fairly defeated on December 1, 2016. All you are doing is just creating confusion and unnecessarily planting the seeds of chaos in the country. Jammeh was clearly defeated and you all need to come to terms with that.
If you cannot persuade Jammeh that he is wasting precious time with this pseudo petition, please do not encourage him in this futile effort. I sincerely wish that you understand the hopelessness of Jammeh’s legal position.
Bala nga neh nam neh fa. In other words, the problem you and Jammeh have is that before we even get to the merits of the petition, certain things need to be in place. I’ll just touch on a couple here because frankly this ridiculous petition has been debated ad nauseam. One, we need a legitimate Supreme Court and we cannot have one under the current circumstances. As many have tried to explain, at this juncture, Jammeh cannot give us a court to hear his petition. It’s like giving a thief the right to appoint his mother as a judge for his case. Now, we all know that that’s absurd because every mother thinks that her child is innocent. It’s that same principle (against bias or appearance of bias) that renders it impossible for us to get a court to issue a legitimate ruling in this case while Jammeh is still in power. Just because of this reason alone, the Coalition and the international community can never accept a ruling from a packed Jammeh court trying to overturn the will of the Gambian people that was expressed on December 1, 2016.
Secondly, by seizing the IEC premises, Jammeh has contaminated beyond repair any semblance of evidence that could have come from the premises to support his claims. I hope, Sarr, you and your colleagues realize that even if people wanted to entertain Jammeh’s petition, these two and other infirmities will not permit us to look into the substance of his claims. In other words, Jammeh has placed legal and political impediments before himself that cannot be surmounted. It is the Almighty working here; and no amount of spin can change these fundamental facts.
You and some of your colleagues still in Jammeh’s inner circle are from well-respected and established families in the country. You also have spouses, siblings, and children to consider. As we speak, some Gambians are on the verge of becoming refugees in neighboring Senegal. Those who can afford it have evacuated their families and are renting apartments for them in Dakar. Do we have to subject our people to this? To what end? So Jammeh can stay in power against the will of the majority of the Gambian people? I am sorry to say that you, the people supporting Jammeh in his illegal enterprise to cling on to power at all cost, will have blood on your hands should a single Gambian lose his or her life in this struggle to oust him.
You are the difference-makers here: you continue supporting him in his illegal actions, we get invaded and people die. If you stop protecting him, he steps down. It is that simple. This is not complicated at all. It is time for some of you to show some moral clarity and stop trying to create confusion. Loyalty is a great virtue. Blind loyalty is dangerous. It is not disloyal to let Jammeh know that you supported him when he had a mandate from the people, but now that he’s been repudiated you cannot support him to cling on to power illegally.
Some of you have parents who have left great legacies in that country, conducted themselves honorably until their death, and expected you to lead honorable lives and be role models for your children. Your families are hurting, knowing that your actions are contributing to the mayhem that will visit the country if Jammeh does not leave.
It is not too late to salvage the situation before we enter into a state of war. My brotherly advice to you is to simply take a stand, viz.: I will not support the illegal usurpation of power. Tell Jammeh that he lost the election, which he himself attested to; and it is impossible for him to succeed in court. After January 18, 2017, Jammeh will no longer derive power from the people. As a free and proud people, we must not allow him to impose himself on us. Gambians should never again allow anyone to steal power. Instead, we should jealously guard our fledgling democracy. As patriotic Gambians, we should all rally around the victor after a free and fair election. Politicians can still argue about policies and how to govern the country, but no one has the right to steal somebody else’s election victory, through the courts or the barrel of a gun. Contrary to Jammeh’s claims, the Supreme Court has no constitutional authority to appoint a President. Only the people, through elections, can appoint a President. And they have spoken loud and clear on December 1, 2016.
I understand that losing an election is hard, but don’t make things harder on you by buying into Jammeh’s fantasies of victimhood. If there are victims here, it is the Gambian people who have been enslaved for far too long. Jammeh was not victimized by the IEC. I defy anyone of you to look me in the eye and tell me that you honestly believe that Jammeh was not fairly defeated. Frankly, at this point, we should not even be arguing about the election outcome. We should be examining our consciences and asking ourselves whether we want to be on the side of the people and do everything within our powers to avoid war, or we want to pursue selfish motives that will undoubtedly lead to war. God Bless our Country and save our families from the evils of war.
Muhamad Sosseh, Esq.
January 16, 2017