Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jammeh and the African Bar Association

Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa
The last public rant by Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to a group of fellows from Nigeria claiming to be the leaders of the African Bar Association (AFBA), showed just how unprepared Yahya Jammeh had been to even contemplate the possibility that he would ever lose power in The Gambia.
President Elect Adama Barrow

The African Bar Association (AFBA), which claims to be a non-governmental organization established in 1971, with the expressed purpose of uniting lawyers and national legal associations in Africa, undermined the very nature of their visit, by indirectly condemning the members of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA). The GBA had earlier called on President Jammeh to respect the election results and hand over peacefully  to the popularly elected President Elect Adama Barrow, come January 19th 2017. In the opinion of the members of AFBA,  the members of the GBA by that statement had taken sides, and by taking sides, they had compromised their neutrality as lawyers. 

What the members of the AFBA did not seem to realize was that the members of the GBA were Gambians; who were present when the elections unfolded and many of them had not only voted in the elections, but had been present on the ground to assess the fairness of the entire process. So members of the GBA were in a far better position to comment of the issue at hand than a group of external actors claiming to be  mediation experts who could not even attempt to mask their admiration of Yahya Jammeh.

Members of AFBA did not initially make their presence known to the members of the GBA until they had made a surprising appearance on national television in the company of the disgruntled beleaguered president. The proper protocol, by a body claiming to represent national legal associations on the continent, would have to firt meet the members of the GBA as the local bar association, get their opinion on the electoral conflict at hand, before appearing on national television with the president.

Another way in which members of AFBA undermined the purpose of their visit was by proceeding to shamelessly sing the praises of Yahya Jammeh on national television. Most Gambians on social media were appalled by the praises showered by the so called legal group claiming to represent African lawyers, on a man that was the very symbol of repression and violation of human and legal rights in the sub-region. 

Members of AFBA even extended an invitation to Jammeh to attend an event of theirs in Nigeria in 2017, as they considered him a true Pan African hero. To add to the pain of the Gambian people, the AFBA leaders continually referred to elections in Burundi and Gabon, two countries in which the presidents had done everything possible to hold on to power against the wishes of their people and the international community. 

AFBA was clearly not in Gambia on an impartial mission and many people still believe that they were a group of high tech hustlers looking for some way to profit from the crisis. ECOWAS had already set up a mediation committee to be headed by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. So the purpose of AFBA was amorphous at best and clearly represented an attempt by Jammeh to employ the services of skilled trouble makers, in a last minute bid to muddy the political waters of his country.

Africa is a continent full of countries with judiciaries badly in need of reform. In a lot of African countries, governments control the judiciary and use them to suppress political opposition. Just this year in the Gambia, the main opposition leader in the country,  Ousainou Darboe, was jailed for three years for leading a peaceful protest demanding answers regarding the death of a senior party official in the hands of security agents. In other African countries, justice is almost always dispensed in favor of the affluent members of society or those that are well connected, at the expense of the poor and marginalized. If there was an organization calling itself the African Bar Association, one would expect that their primary objective would be to pressure governments in the region to ensure the independence and neutrality of national judiciaries and to ensure reforms that would free them substantially from the influence of politics and money. But to have the leaders of the African Bar Association acting as cheerleaders for a political tyrant was both shameful and extremely disappointing. This behavior put a veil of suspicion over this formerly unknown group.

Of course, as one would expect from any tyrant, the praise singing from the members of AFBA just provided Jammeh the fuel he needed to go on an insane rant against almost every single perceived political opponent, real or imagined.  According to Jammeh, not only was the Gambian opposition out to get him, but the West, neocolonialists, white people, the press, the UN, ECOWAS, and every other peron in the world he could think of, were out to get him. His speech on TV was devoid of any serious content. It was the typical long and rambling statement Gambians are fed on a periodic basis by the half literate tyrant who has just found out that the respect he had commanded all these years was simply due to the people's fear of his brutal and erratic ways. They have had enough.
After an election in which the people had clearly voted for the candidate supported by a coalition of eight political parties, Jammeh wanted the whole process scrapped and redone simply because he did not win. His speech was a sad spectacle and demonstrated  lack of clear knowledge of the very laws of the country he had ruled for so long. In the Gambia like any country, there is a clear process for challenging the validity of election results. There is also a time frame for bringing any such challenge to the courts. However, President Jammeh, in his desperate bid to hold on to power, initially avoided the legal process and acted in direct contravention of the electoral laws by proceeding to single handedly nullify the results of an election that had already been declared by the Independent Electoral Commission. He had declared that he wanted a rerun before even deciding to take the matter to court. Here was the man who wanted to be the plaintiff, jury and judge. It was almost comical to hear him talking about the Gambian constitution even as he was preparing to bastardize the very constitution.

A War Yahya Jammeh Just Won't Win

The Defiant Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh is said to be secretly preparing his military forces to face the might of West African troops under the authority of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

Senegal, which has been chosen for strategic reasons to provide the bulwark of the offense against Jammeh's resistance, does not only have a military that is more than ten times the size of Gambia's infantry and paltry naval forces, the Senegalese military is among the most technically trained in the West African region. 
Senegalese Regulars
Nigerian Alpha Jets Poised for Kanilai
If Nigeria decides to intervene, which may not even be necessary, Nigeria can provide 90 troops for every single Gambian soldier. This of course does not even involve regional neighbors; Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and some of the other battle hardened troops in the sub-region. 

Yahya Jammeh recently boasted to a group of self appointed Pan-African conflict resolution experts calling themselves the African Bar Association, that he would never be intimidated by West African leaders who want to illegally interfere into the internal affairs of his tiny country. He promised to resist any attempt by ECOWAS to force him to hand over to coalition President-Elect Adama Barrow and stated if there was any external military intervention into the Gambia, he was sure of victory.  Jammeh's main assurance of a victory against the range of troops that would be arrayed against him is his unshakable faith that he has the personal support of Allah.
Jammeh's Special Forces
Senegalese Special Forces
Probably, there are some members of the Gambian army who may not have Jammeh's enthusiasm for the pyrrhic victory he is dreaming of. Small armies have won great battles against invading armies in the past.  Probably it is this type of historical victory that  Jammeh may be secretly dreaming of. We hope for Jammeh and for the sake of the peaceful people of the Gambia, that there some pragmatists among Jammeh's group of core advisers. This is because any decision by Jammeh to challenge the might of West African troops would either be foolhardy or in the extreme, simply suicidal. 

Senegalese troops have had years of battle experience fighting a rebel insurgency in Casamance, the southern part of the country. The country has some of the best conventional forces in the region and the Senegalese military has had strong technical relations with United States military since 2001. Earlier this year Senegal and USA signed a military cooperation agreement primarily aimed at fighting terrorism in the Sub-region. Upon signing the agreement the US Ambassador Jim Zumwalt in a news conference with Senegal's Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye stated that, "We believe that this agreement will help the U.S. military and the Senegalese military reinforce our cooperation together to deal with threats to our common interests." Yahya Jammeh with his saber rattling in Gambia and his threat of introducing instability in the Senegambian sub-region, all in a bid to hang on to power at all costs,  clearly falls under the definition of such a threat.
Nigerian Troops Ready to raid Kanilai

News from sources close to Jammeh indicate that in a desperate attempt to bolster his forces and knowing that there may be members of Gambia's forces who may not join him on his suicidal resistance mission, Jammeh has been making secret attempts to reach out to rogue mercenaries of Charles Taylor's now defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in order to help him resist West African troops. This move on the part of Jammeh to reactivate rebels that have been demobilized by
Training to Attack Jammeh
ECOMOG and the United Nations will just help him dig deeper into the quagmire he is already buried in. 

Jammeh is planning to mount a "do or die" resistance, foolishly failing to realize that most military resistance that is successful has to at least have the backing of the masses. As long as ordinary Gambians are concerned, they may be the most peaceful citizens in West Africa, but the majority of them are now fed up with years of Jammeh and his ego-centrism. For many years, Jammeh has controlled the population of his country and bent them to his will through sheer force of personality, inhumane brutality and unpredictability. Over the years however, he had mistaken fear for love, leading him to decide to conduct elections that were largely free and fair . Of course the people were only too glad to reject him. With the population telling Jammeh how they really felt about him, he has decided to reject the truth and cling to his view of an electoral commission that has swept the rug unfairly from under his feet.

Jammeh should not look too far to see examples of West African leaders who lost power and gave up peacefully. Abdou Diouf in Senegal, Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria, and most recently John Dramani Mahama in Ghana being perfect examples. Comparing this group to people like Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D'Ivoire and Colonel Qaddafi of Libya, men who thought they were invincible and the only people capable to lead, Jammeh should realize that it would rather be better to have the fate of the former leaders than the unfortunate destiny of the latter group. 

Jammeh points to Burundi and Gabon as examples, not clearly understanding the difference between his situation and these countries. I hope somebody will tell Jammeh that those two leaders in Burundi and Gabon never publicly conceded loss, congratulated their opponents, only to turn back again and declare that they were cheated in an election they conducted.

The only hope the region will have is that members of the small Gambian military look at the futility of trying to fight against troops from the entire West Africa, as there is no path to victory for them. They lack the men, the arms and the munitions.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Is Jammeh now Challenging Allah's Will?

Allah's Former Favorite Son
Those with even a small knowledge about the Gambia would know how Yahya Jammeh has over the years ascribed his every thought and action as being guided by and subject only to the will of the Almighty "Allah Subhanahu Aa Ta'ala," or "Allah the most glorified, the most high."

The New Favorite Son
Obedience to the will of Allah (SWT) has been the main principle Jammeh has relied on to justify his iron grip on the day to day affairs of his small country. 

It was, according to him, the will of Allah (SWT) that was responsible for him winning four straight elections. It was also through the will of the Almighty that he would always emerge victorious over his adversaries in almost every political contest over the past 22 years. 

Even coup detats against Yahya Jammeh, according to him, had always failed because of the personal protection of Allah (SWT) and Allah's attention to the personal welfare of one of his favorite sons, Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh. 

Subservience to the will of  Allah was also the core of Jammeh's personal political narrative. As there was no way of calling up to the heavens to ascertain the veracity of Jammeh's narrative, Gambians have over the years had no option but to accept his version of events and his supposedly superior position in the eyes of the Almighty.

Even in moments of immense brutality, Yahya Jammeh could always find a way to ascribe his deadly actions to the Supreme will of the Almighty. When Imams, journalists, renegade soldiers and political opponents were fleeing the country to avoid his persecution, Jammeh would always profess that Allah (SWT) was on his side and he would surely expose his enemies. 

Those who do not know Yahya Jammeh may not know the true nature of the sadistic cruelty that he was capable of.

A year or two ago, when Jammeh was being criticized for his poor human rights record,  he decided to show his defiance by stating that since Gambia had the death penalty and it had not been used for a long time, he would reactivate its use. "What's the use of having a law if it is not being used? He asked. People around the world thought Jammeh was joking until he ordered the immediate execution of several prisoners on death row. It was only following loud domestic and international outcry at the depravity of this action that Jammeh felt pressured to suspend the executions. However, he had made his point,  and his adversaries became even more scared of him. 

Jammeh's public manifestation of his devotion to his deity is probably second to none among African leaders. This is a man who will never leave his house without a copy of the Muslim Holy Quran. He also carried very long prayer beads and a delicately embroidered sword. Even in the hot Sahelian sun of The Gambia, Jammeh would be about, dressed in elegant flowing robes, like legendary Islamic warriors such as the great Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn (Saladin). It was a marvel to the common Gambian to behold Jammeh, brandishing the Holy Quran, even when he was insulting members of the opposition and threatening his adversaries with death.

Jammeh, like most tyrants, grew to believe that there was simply none like him in the Gambia. In Jammeh's eyes, there was probably no Gambian more special in the eyes of Allah (SWT). 
As his belief in himself grew, so did the length of his names and titles.  A young military officer who had overthrown the country's first President in a bloodless coup, Yayah AJJ Jammeh had in twenty two years become Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh Babili Mansa.
I accept the Will of Allah

To add to his personal mystic, he also claimed that Allah (SWT) had given him the ability to totally cure Asthma and HIV AIDS, the only living person in the universe with a definitive cure for these deadly ailments. He even had a clinic to practice his medicine and Gambians could only mutter their disbelief in silence. 

On December 1st 2016, when Gambians were heading to the polls, Yayah Jammeh's faith in his supreme destiny remained unshaken.  Even when the main opposition parties, eight of them, rallied around a single candidate, they did not cause Jammeh any loss of sleep. In the words of Jammeh, "the opposition were vermin" and he was bound to "win by a landslide," such, as he thought, was the will of Allah. 

In spite of the size of the coalition, he remained confident, and why couldn't he?  In his mind, his candidacy was endorsed by Allah (SWT).

However, on the night of the vote, it was soon clear to many Gambians that this year, Allah (SWT) had a new candidate.  Unfortunately for Jammeh, this time, it was not the entitled Professor Babili Mansa, but the understated, unassuming Adama Barrow, a man who came out of nowhere to be President elect, because the main leaders of his party were locked up in jail courtesy of Jammeh.

That night, Yahya Jammeh came on Television very late, stating that he had accepted the will of Allah (SWT) and was going back to his village and become a farmer. His new mission now, he said, was to go grow and some food to feed his people. Gambians everywhere jumped on to the streets in euphoria. The tyrant was gone. Farmers everywhere welcomed another master farmer.

Unfortunately, after all these years, Jammeh has decided for the first time to question the will of Allah (SWT). In a pathetic Television appearance last Friday, he gave a series of almost comical reasons why the election results could not be the will of Allah, but the will of an Independent Electoral Commission he no longer had any faith in. Even when he himself had earlier claimed that the Gambian elections were rig proof and the fairest in the history of world, he no longer believed that Allah would do this to him. He therefore said he was annulling the results wanted another election Sanni Abacha style.
I Reject

Jammeh's reasons for doubting Allah were laughable at best. He said that the IEC had  admitted to making some minor mistakes in the  tabulation of the total results. So even where the IEC had stated that the errors were not large enough to change the outcome, Jammeh was not believing their explanation.  

Jammeh's other point was that many people did not go to vote. If people had not gone to vote, in his opinion, it meant that these were his own supporters who had stayed at home. The fact that people would have stayed at home because they could not believe that Jammeh would ever conduct a free and fair election,  never even crossed the mind of this narrow minded brute.

Jammeh now wants fresh elections with a new electoral commission. The man who had gladly accepted the will of Allah for 22 years was now suddenly questioning Allah's will just because things were not in his favor. 

However, it would be truly wise for Jammeh  to remember some other fellows who thought they were Allah's favorites. 

When Saddam Hussein was being invaded by America, he went on TV pledging a great victory over the infidel Americans because he had the support of the Almighty. He was eventually found hiding in a hole in Tikrit. We all know how that ended. 

Muammar Gaddafi, Jammeh's friend, also firmly believed that Libyan rats, as he called the opposition, would not shake him, ashe had the backing of the Almighty. He was found hiding in a drainage pipe in the Libyan desert. We also know how that ended.

Jammeh Curing AIDS
My advise to Professor Yahya Jammeh is this. If you believe in Allah, as you've always professed, go to your village Kanilai and do the farming you've always planned. You could even patent your cures for AIDS and asthma. If you do so, you will definitely end up a billionaire and may likely win the next Nobel Prize in medicine.
ECOWAS Yellow Card

Brother Jammeh listen, your time is up. Listen to the voice of Allah through your people and not cause any mayhem in that country. Twenty two years is enough. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Jammeh Opts for the Gbagbo/ Campaore Club

President Elect Adama Barrow
Those who are blaming statements by the Gambian opposition as the main reason why Yahya Jammeh has decided to reject the Gambian election results, may not know the true nature of Jammeh. Oppositions statements of a truth and reconciliation type commission in The Gambia are just an unfortunate excuse.
Professor Alhaji AJJ Jammeh
Babili Mansa

Since the victory of Adama Barrow as President-Elect of the Gambia and the beautiful  concession speech by President Jammeh, some of us have been cautious in our praise for Jammeh. We were just not convinced that this fellow was among those who will easily let go of power without a fight. It was good we waited.

Yahya Jammeh may have done a lot of progressive things in the Gambia over the last 22 years. He built schools, hospitals, a university, a new airport, roads, and so on. But at the core of his being, he is a brutal dictator who believes that it is his divine destiny to rule the people of his small country forever. He will stop at nothing, as he has always done in the past to hang on to power.
Congratulating Barrow 

A very traditionsl man who goes around in flowing gowns, amulets and a sword,  Yahya Jammeh publicly and shamelessly asserts that he has the herbal remedies to cure AIDS, asthma and other incurable diseases. He falls into the same category of past African leaders like Lauren Gbagbo and Blaise Campaore, power hungry tyrants who believe that the destinies of their countries are intertwined with their individual destinies.  Men who are convinced that only they have the ability to solve the problems of their countries. Nobody else can.
Billion Year Leader 

What makes Yahya Jammeh even more dangerous is the fact that this is a half-literate individual who has somehow convinced himself that he is somehow a champion of the African struggle, the Fidel Castro of West Africa. Jammeh rails against colonialism, against Western interference in African affairs and  sees the country's opposition as agents of the West,  while viewing himself as a symbol of neocolonial resistance. Recently he labeled the opposition in his country as vermins he will bury nine feet deep.

Yahya Jammeh's ego has been fed over the last 22 years by brutality and the docile nature of the Gambian people. Unlike other West Africans who are quick to take to the streets and challenge their governments even at great personal risk, Gambians prefer to vent their anger in Internet chat rooms, social media and around small pots of boiling "ataya," a local brew. Jammeh knows this tendency of his people and has always kept them in check with the occasional display of military might and the use of verbal and physical threats against the opposition.

Slightly more than a year or so ago, a group of Gambians living in the diaspora decided that they were fed up with Jammeh. Buoyed by all the talk of how Gambians were fed up with their tyrannical leader and ready to get rid of him, they acquired arms and attacked the Gambian State House when the president was out of the country. They were unsuccessful, as they were met with stiff resistance by forces loyal to Jammeh. The larger population was too scared of Jammeh to join the few plotters. Jammeh used the attempt to further tighten his control on the country's security apparatus.

Just this year, a leading opposition figure in the country, arrested over participation in a protest, died at the hands of Jammeh's agents. The leading opposition party leader in the country Ousainou Darboe decided to lead a protest of party members demanding more information surrounding the death of their comrade. Darboe, a lawyer and revered figure in the country for more than two decades, was arrested together with some of his party members and jailed for three years. Apart from complaining on the Internet, Gambians did not protest this action until Lawyer Darboe was freed on bail last week following the results of the elections that has now been rejected by the tyrannical Jammeh.

For the 22 years that he's been in power, Jammeh has had some of the worst record of human rights in West Africa, even though the people of his country are largely peaceful. Members of the military are routinely accused of coups and eliminated.  Journalists are routinely harassed, arrested or jailed.  Students are attacked for protesting Jammeh's policies and members of the opposition parties are frequently arrested and harassed by members of Jammeh's ubiquitous intelligence network.

However, the rejection of the results of a very transparent election that he had earlier accepted, giving bogus excuses, should be the last straw. The governments of Senegal, Nigeria and other Ecowas member states should no longer allow this brute to attend regional conferences and should work with the people of The Gambia to get rid of this monster once and for all.
Just recently, sensing a growing tide against him in the Gambia, Jammeh withdrew from the International Criminal Court, claiming a bias against Africans. If Jammeh decides to challenge the mandate of his people, the international community should treat him like Gbagbo and the other tyrants who do not know when the writing is on the wall. He should face the ICC.

For years, Yayah Jammeh has convinced himself that the tiny military in his small country can challenge the world. We are calling on the Gambian military not to follow this man down the reckless path towards which he is headed.

Gambia is a small country and almost everybody knows everybody. The reason why just a day ago Jammeh promoted so many people in the military to senior positions was a last ditched effort to have the military do his dirty work for him. The Gambia military should realize that they are working for the people of their country and not for a deranged megalomaniac who would stop at nothing to hang on to his billion year delusion of power.

The international community must reject the latest moves by this brute and every pressure must be brought to bear upon him to leave the people of this friendly nation in peace and just go away. He can go to his village or to Morocco. He just needs to leave the people to celebrate their moment in the sun.