Mr. Editor, clearly speaking, the Gambia is heading towards the path of insurgency given the fact that barely few hours to the expiry of Jammeh’s term, he is still desperately holding on to power. The Ecowas authority has clearly stated that the results of the December 1st Election stand and that means Yahya Jammeh’s term effectively expires at midnight on January 19. Notwithstanding this fact, Jammeh has employed a lot of moves recently including filing an injunction and expecting that a single sitting judge at the Supreme Court would rule that President elect Barrow should not be sworn into office on January 19.
Irrespective of the fact that the Chief Justice would not entertain such a motion in his court, Jammeh’s national assembly decided to enact a bill baring Ecowas from using military means to enforce the results of a free and fair election in the Gambia. I do understand that the Gambia is a sovereign state and its laws must be respected but where the people clearly spoke in an election, that mandate too must be enforced. This is the reason why Ecowas was from the onset urging Yahya Jammeh to respect the will of the people and step down.
The path the Gambia is heading is that of an insurgency since Yahya Jammeh has vowed to die defending the Gambia from any act of invasion. The Gambia is going to be plunged into a crisis should he refuse to hand over power or stand on the way of Barrow’s inauguration on January 19. Yahya Jammeh’s attitude is clearly reminiscent of the way dictators like Gaddafi behaved during the Libyan crisis. From the onset of the Libyan uprising, the defiant Gaddafi was very adamant not to leave Libya despite all the pressure, defections and massive human carnage in the country. He lamented that “I am not going to leave this land,” (Black, I. 2011, February 22). Gaddafi believed that he was god sent to the Libyan people so to die fighting in Libya was a blessing for him. He believed that he was going to die a martyr fighting for Libya. In his own words, he reechoed that “I will die as a martyr at the end … I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.” Id,. at para. 3. In the end, he died on the streets of Tripoli in the hands of very little boys.
Yahya Jammeh’s defiance not to step down might follow the same path as Gaddafi. We are witnessing so many defections from his government and at the same time, massive arrests of senior military officers opposed to his senseless war is taking center stage in the Gambia. This obviously is a precursor to insurgency because there are other military officers loyal to those arrested. Yahya Jammeh on his path to self-destruction does not want to tolerate any sign of dissent and his party is also not helping the situation but fueling more ethnic division in the country.
In most African states, insurgency starts because the governing party resolves to hold on to power and this is exactly what is happening in the Gambia under Yahya Jammeh. A study on authoritarian African states found out that “the governing party became the instrument of elite groups that held onto power at all costs and were unwilling to tolerate dissent or serious competition” (Democratization in Africa: African Views, African Voices 1992.p. 13). What the APRC dominated Gambian Parliament did today regarding barring Ecowas from military intervention in the Gambia clearly proves this point.
On hindsight, the only way we can avoid insurgency in the Gambia is to capture Yahya Jammeh. This will ensure lasting peace and those that fled the Gambia for neighboring Senegal and other countries could return home and enjoy peace after 22 years of Jammeh’s despotic rule. Of course, whether he survives any military invasion in the Gambia is questionable but when this does happen, it will be helpful to have Jammeh alive.
Black, I. (2011, February 22). Gaddafi urges violent showdown and tells Libya ‘I’ll die a martyr‘ . Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/22/muammar-gaddafi-urges-violent-showdown
Democratization in Africa: African Views, African Voices (1992). (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2017, from https://www.nap.edu/read/2041/chapter/4#15
By Ebou Ngum – Everett Washington