Sunday, January 15, 2017

Gambian Updates: When Children Don't Listen to their Parents-The Jammeh Show

Nigerian President
Muhammadu Buhari 
Last week Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was in Gambia to try to talk to that country's recalcitrant, soon to be ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, in order for him to see reason and hand over power peacefully to the man who won the country's December 2016 elections, President-Elect Adama Barrow. Of course, as some predicted and most expected, Yahya Jammeh did not listen.
 Dr. Yahya A. J. J Jammeh
Babili Mansa

The choice of President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the delegation talking to Jammeh was both symbolic and strategic. Like Jammeh, Buhari had led Nigeria both as a soldier and a civilian. Buhari has known what it was to lose power, he himself having once being overthrown in a military coup. Both men are devout Muslims, although Buhari, unlike Jammeh, does not walk about with a Quran and prayer beads, but leaves statements about his faith between him and his God. Both men had been career military officers, with Buhari having a more decorated  and longer military career than Jammeh. Buhari had also led a military over 50 times larger and infinitely more powerful than Jammeh's military. 
President Elect Adama Barrow

It was therefore one ex-soldier to another, a Major General to a Lieutenant, a military leader to another, a civilian president to another, an old man to a relatively young man, like a father to a son. Unfortunately like a son who does not listen to his parent, Jammeh has decided that he won't listen. Alas forJammeh, children who don't listen to their fathers invariably live a lifetime of regret, Yahya may die regretting not listening to the advice of the wise old man from Nigeria.

Yahya Jammeh has always stressed his obedience to the will of Allah, even when his actions have been anything but Satanic. Well, here was a leader who came bearing the same name as the Prophet of Islam, but Jammeh still refused to listen to him, failing, in his arrogance, to see the symbolism of the moment and the wisdom of the saying that many times Allah talks to you through people. 

Buhari and Jammeh represent opposite spectrums of African leadership. While Buhari is calm, with quiet dignity and believes in the rule of law, Jammeh is arrogant, proud, with an exaggerated opinion about himself and his abilities. While Buhari, a Muslim, seeks guidance from God, Jammeh believes that his words and actions are dictated of God. While Buhari came holding a flag of peace, Jammeh truly doesn't care for peace, all he cares for is power. He thinks he is a fighter and always carries a sword. 

What Jammeh failed to realize on Friday, was that Buhari was coming to GAMBIA with with the power of the whole region, Africa and the world behind him. At the 647th meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa held on January 13th, the Council commended ECOWAS for their position on Gambia and gave full support to the decision by ECOWAS to solve the problem in The Gambia by "all means." The Council called on Jammeh to respect both his country's Constitution,  the African Union's Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance "by handing over power, on 19 January 2017, as stated in the Constitution, to the newly elected President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, as decided by the people of the country."

The African Peace and Security Council told Jammeh that the December 2016 results in Gambia were inviolable and stated zero tolerance for any other move. They stated that come January 19 2017, the AU  will no longer recognize Yahya Jammeh as the President of the country, which will effectively  strip him of all privileges that came with the position. Jammeh was also warned of serious consequences if any action of his led to crisis in Gambia. The Council also urged Gambian security forces to show restraint, abide by their country's constitution and follow the rule of law.

To add fuel to the fire that he has already set in his country, Jammeh in an unprecedented act of presidential childishness, called the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, seemingly privately over the weekend, pretending to now be ready for peace, and begging the internationally respected Liberian leader to facilitate the provision of judges for his elections results appeal. Unknown to the Liberian leader who thought she was in a private conversation, the Gambian president was broadcasting the call on national TV without informing her that their conversation was not private, in a clear breach of diplomatic protocol. 

Luckily for President Johnson-Sirleaf she did not make any statement that contravened the current ECOWAS position that Jammeh handover on the 19th, but stated that she was glad that he was seeking a peaceful way out of the impasse and advised him to put his position in writing for her to make available to the West African leadership. The sleazy character that Jammeh is, had made the call in a room full of his loyal allies and they sat their listening quietly as their president did his juvenile prank. It was part of what is now known in Gambia as "The Jammeh Show."

Ellen Johnson was of course very furious when she discovered that the call by Jammeh was not a genuine quest for peace, but the prankish publicity stunt of a delusional leader so hungry for power that he had lost all sense of self respect. The stunt only exposed what Jammeh's critics had been saying all along; that he was a deranged sociopath whose only interest lay only in promoting the messianic cult he had built around his image. He did not care about the Gambian people. But as President Sirleaf rightly stated on BBC, the call revealed the true character of Jammeh. The fellow was just a murderous, half literate psychopath who believed he had supernatural abilities.

Yahya Jammeh still continues to defy his people and the international community. As they say, pride goes before a fall. Yahya has controlled and led his Gambian people for so long that he has either truly forgotten the limits of his power, is too power conscious to imagine a life without power, or is just too stupid to realize that there is no good way out of the hole he is continuing to dig himself tighter into. 

As of today, a few more ministers have abandoned his sinking ship, even as West African leaders get ready to drag him out by his ears if it comes to that. The Finance, Communications, Justice, Foreign ministers have jumped on lifeboats and abandoned ship. Many more are poised to do so, as the military get ready to show Jammeh who they are loyal to. It's a few more days to Barrow's inauguration and many Gambians are fleeing to Senegal because they know their delusional leader would probably not know when to stop. 

We just hope for the sake of peace that somebody will knock some sense into Jammeh's thick skull and do so quick. For now the world will continue to stay glued to The Jammeh Show.

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