Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jammeh's Defiant New Year's Message

Yahya A. J. J Jammeh Babili Mansa
In a very defiant New Year's message to Gambians and the international community, Gambia's President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa has reiterated his total rejection of the call by ECOWAS leaders for him to step down peacefully and hand over to the president elect and eight party coalition candidate Adama Barrow on January 19th 2017.

In a rather paradoxical  opening statement, Jammeh stated that, " It has become a tradition that when we enter a new year, we as God fearing people renew our faith in Allah, our submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid Satanic temptations to do evil."
Gambian President Elect Adama Barrow

The beleaguered President then proceeded to completely deviate from this opening statement and launch into a summarized version of his decision to initially accept the results of the country's elections in which which he clearly lost the vote, only to backtrack several days later and announce that he totally rejected the results, he had annulled the election and was calling for a new round of voting under a new electoral commission.

Mr. Jammeh stated that he saw this as the only way out of the current political stalemate in the country.

Yahya Jammeh stated that all individuals and groups calling on him to step down, were dismissing the legitimacy of his change of position and his adherence to is oath to defend the Constitution by seeking redress in the Supreme court.
President for a Billion Years 

In reacting to the threats of the deployment of a Standby Military Force by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS in a bid to enforce the Gambian election results by military means as a last resort, Jammeh remained intransigent and vowed to defend Gambia to the last man.
Jammeh also said he no longer viewed members of the West African bloc as neutral players and was unwilling to cooperate with them, unless the spectre of military intervention was lifted and they accept his arguments regarding the fact that the recently conducted elections in the country were flawed and biased against him.

Jammeh repeated the statement that he was not a cheat and would not allow anyone to cheat him, but would be ready to concede to a rerun of the elections with a neutral independent electoral commission.  He repeated his decision to seek judicial redress and was standing by his decision to annul the results of the past election.
Gambia has not had a Supreme Court for about 18 months, due to the failure by the President to appoint members to the apex court. The opposition Gambian Transition Committee argued over the holidays that the hasty appointment of judges to the  Supreme Court, for the sole purpose of hearing the elections challenge brought by the president, was fishy and just a ploy to buy time. Their point was buttressed by the fact that members of Gambia Bar Association had accepted the results of the election and accepted the explanation of the Chief Electoral Commissioner that the initial error made during the compilation of the results were immediately rectified, the parties immediately notified and that these computation error did not in anyway affect the final outcome of a victory by the Coalition candidate Adama Barrow.
Jammeh however, points to his own investigations that revealed a pattern anomalies and also hinted at likely voter intimidation and the fact that many voters had "refused to vote." He continues questioning why about three hundred thousand eligible voters decided not to vote and still believed that if those voters had not stayed away, they would have voted for him.

The opposition however continues to question the veracity of such claims, asking why the President had not in the past questioned the validity of the results of past elections that had been declared in his favor, even though many people had stayed away.

The opposition also claims with some credence that many people had simply stayed away because they did not believe the President was capable of conducting free and fair elections and they were of the opinion that voting against Jammeh in Gambia was simply an exercise in futility.

Members of the Ghana Bar Association, a country whose President lost an election and was gracefully stepping down, appealed to lawyers and judges in the Gambia not to partake in Jammeh's election appeals charade.

Yahya Jammeh may be cleverly testing the determination of ECOWAS to engage in yet another military intervention in another country, believing that with time, member countries may start looking to other alternatives such as sanctions and other options that may prolong his stay in power. Already there are reports that Guinea is not in favor of a military intervention, but would rather prefer a negotiated settlement.

Jammeh could however be gambling dangerously. ECOWAS, unlike most regional groups, take military enforcement of its mandates very seriously. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast, military intervention had been used to remove unpopular leaders. Jammeh, by refusing to participate in ECOWAS led mediation efforts may be rejecting the only option that would provide him with a safe and honorable exit.

Some Gambians believe that Jammeh, given the heinous nature of some of his past his human rights abuses in the country, would simply not be willing to face the people as a civilian and has never contemplated a future without power. He vowed at one time to rule his small country for a billion years. Jammeh may be willing and ready to die for power just like his hero Muammar Gaddafi, a man he idolized.
Regardless of what happens, the clock is ticking for Jammeh and the next few weeks will likely determine his destiny. Unfortunately President Jammeh, the only good alternatives he has remain in the delusion that he could somehow defeat all the forces that would be arraigned against him.

The possibility of the 2000 man Gambian military defeating a West African military contigent would be nothing short of a miracle. However, Jammeh is a man who strongly believes in miracles and the occult. So he may go down believing in one more divine intervention on his behalf by Allah (SWT). We will just have to wait and see.

Sheku Sheriff- Segbwema Blogger (c) 2016

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