Will Gambia’s Strongman Jammeh Concede in The 2016’s Election?

The Gambia will be going to the polls on the first of December, 2016. Public hysteria for a change is at its highest so far. The political landscape has shifted. The oppositions instead of fighting over minor irreconcilable…

The Gambia will be going to the polls on the first of December. Public hysteria for a change is at its highest so far.

Gambian President Jammeh in relaxation mood
Gambian President Jammeh in relaxation mood

The political landscape has shifted. The oppositions instead of fighting over minor irreconcilable incoherencies have sorted to put aside their difference to take on the common enemy, the tyrannical dictatorship of Jammeh.

It hasn’t however sunk into the consciousness of the masses that election, at least the presidential one, is just a formality to legitimize the continuity of Jammeh’s dictatorship. He hasn’t given up power for four consecutive terms. There should be no illusion that he will give-in this time around. He has much to lose today far more than he did a decade or two ago. Jammeh, we all know has been successful in deteriorating all public institutions to consolidate his tyrannical tendencies.

President Jammeh and wife Zainab
President Jammeh and wife Zineb

Jammeh has so much to lose.
Imagine the wealth he has amassed making him the single most rich Gambian alive, the reported foreign investments, the dominance of the public lives of Gambians, the commanding power, the battalion of loyal soldiers, the power to decide who to hire and who to fire, the luxurious cars, the endless public lands under his custody, the free labor and enslavement of Gambian people he enjoys, the endless spending and the conditional loyalties of religious leaders amongst others are some of the things he has to lose.

If you further put into perspective that Jammeh is academically unfit to receive international appointments after leaving office, one should be convinced that so much is at stake for him. Election certainly is no means to kick him out of power.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Little of the IEC could be assumed to be independent. The head of the institution is handpicked by Jammeh himself. That is a clear indication of the fact that the players in the political scene in the Gambia are not on an equal footing. In any game where the judge is handpicked by one of the contenders, fair-play is the first casualty. Jammeh has succeeded in maintaining this leverage which gives him an edge over any potential rival.

Lt. Yaya Jammeh, seated, after overthrowing the government of Sir Dauoda Jarawa in the early 1990s.
Lt. Yaya Jammeh, seated, after overthrowing the government of Sir Dauoda Jarawa in the early 1990s.

Many have contemplated on how Jammeh could rig the elections. A convincing argument is the above-mentioned leverage he has. Mr Njie of the IEC is conditioned by the privilege of being appointed by Jammeh to sway election results in his favor.

The coalition of oppositions
The way forward is the question we should be asking ourselves. Consistently living in bubbles of optimism rather than realism is not the way forward. Before being woken up by the news of yet another term for Jammeh, I believe it is high time to build on the foundation of the unity that was shown by the coming together of the opposition. Electoral reforms were supposed to be conditions on which the opposition should have agreed to take part in the December elections.

By coming this far and the little hope of being able to change the anticipated Jammeh re-election through the ballot, the way forward is to dominate the local government elections. Dominating the National Assembly and local government offices is a good start in weakening Jammeh’s power. Opposition forming majority in parliament have the capacity to pass new reforms and condition public officials to follow on the principles of democracy.

Therefore, for every constituency, a single common opposition candidate should be empowered to run against the current ruling party’s chosen candidates. This is the only means of seeing a significant change.
It is high time Gambians realize that the tyranny that has drained the country of its strong capacities is here to stay at least for another term. However, people should not lose hopes of democratic means to induce realistic changes. The approaches are the only ones that should be redefined and recalibrated.

The above Article first published by the Freedom Newspaper. Below are reasons why some believe that Jammeh may not accept the results of election is about to likely lose.



Gambia: Crackdown Threatens Presidential Election

Donors Should Impose Sanctions if Abuses Persist

(Nairobi) – The Gambian government’s repression of the political opposition in the months prior to the December 1, 2016 presidential election threatens the fairness of the election, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 43-page report, “More Fear Than Fair: Gambia’s 2016 Presidential Election,” describes how the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, has used a crackdown on the opposition, domination of state media, and state resources for campaigning to ensure a political advantage in the election. Authorities have threatened, arbitrarily arrested, jailed, and tortured members of opposition political parties. Since April, more than 90 opposition activists have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests, with 30 sentenced to three-year prison terms. Two opposition activists have died in custody.

“The Jammeh government has threatened, beaten, and tortured opposition party members for exercising their basic rights, all but extinguishing hopes for a fair election,” said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless this situation improves, Gambia’s international donors should impose targeted sanctions on senior officials implicated in abuses.”



Colonel Yahya Jammeh and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh with Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House, August 2014.
Colonel Yahya Jammeh and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh with Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House, August 2014.


Restrictions to press freedom
Jammeh has been accused of restricting freedom of the press. Harsh new laws against the press freedom, were followed by the unsolved killing of Deyda Hydara, editor of The Point tabloid. Hydara, who had been mildly critical of the Jammeh regime, was brutally gunned down in December 2004.

Alhagie Martin, one of Jammeh’s closest military aides, has been named about Hydara’s killing. It has, however, not been possible to verify the allegation linking Martin with Hydara’s slaying. It is widely believed that Jammeh is responsible for Hydara’s murder. Jammeh has denied that security agents were involved in the killing.

In April 2004, he called on journalists to obey his government “or go to hell”. In June 2005, he stated on radio and television that he has allowed “too much expression” in the country.

In July 2006, journalist Ebrima Manneh of The Daily Observer was reportedly arrested by state security after attempting to republish a BBC report criticizing Jammeh shortly before an African Union meeting in Banjul; his arrest was witnessed by coworkers. Though ordered to release Manneh by an Economic Community of West African States court, the Gambian government denied that Manneh was imprisoned.

According to AFP, an unnamed police source confirmed Manneh’s arrest in April 2009, but added he believed Manneh “is no longer alive”. Amnesty International named Manneh a prisoner of conscience and a 2011 “priority case”. The Committee to Protect Journalists has also called for his release.

Alleged human rights abuses
Shooting of students
On 10 and 11 April 2000, the government was accused of the killing of 12 students and a journalist during a student demonstration to protest the death of a student in the Gambia. Jammeh was accused of ordering the shooting of the students, but the government denied the allegations. A government commission of inquiry reportedly concluded that the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers were “largely responsible” for many of the deaths and other injuries.

The commission also said that five soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion were responsible for the deaths of two students at Brikama. The government stated that the report implicated several PIU officers in the students’ deaths and injuries, but those responsible were not prosecuted.

Disappearances and imprisonments
Newspaper reports list dozens of individuals who have disappeared after being picked up by men in plain-clothes, and others who have languished under indefinite detention for months or years without charge or trial. The regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court ordered the Gambia government to produce one journalist who was disappeared. In April 2016, at least 50 people were arrested during a demonstration, and there were fears that Solo Sandeng, an opposition politician, died alongside two others while being held in detention. In July 2016, a Gambian opposition leader and another 18 people were sentenced to three years in jail for participation in the April demonstration. A Gambian diplomat publicly denied that Solo Sandeng had died in custody.

Witch hunting campaign
In March 2009 Amnesty International reported that up to 1,000 Gambians had been abducted by government-sponsored “witch doctors” on charges of witchcraft, and taken to detention centers where they were forced to drink poisonous concoctions. On 21 May 2009, The New York Times reported that the alleged witch-hunting campaign had been sparked by the President Yahya Jammeh, who believed that the death of his aunt earlier that year could be attributed to witchcraft.

Massacre of migrants
Jammeh has also been linked with the 2004 massacre of 44 Ghanaian migrants and 10 other ECOWAS nationals.

Death penalty
Though previously regarded by Amnesty International as “abolitionist in practice”, having had no executions since 1985, on 27 August 2012, the Gambian government confirmed that nine prisoners were executed by firing squad. This followed President Jammeh’s stated intention to carry out all death penalties before mid-September amid protests from the European Union countries and others.

Calls for anti-gay violence
In May 2015, in defiance of western criticism Jammeh intensified his anti-gay rhetoric, telling a crowd during an agricultural tour: “If you do it [in the Gambia] I will slit your throat — if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.”

This prompted a fresh round of condemnation from international human rights leaders. US National Security Advisor Susan Rice released a statement of condemnation on 16 May 2015: “We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia,” said Rice. “We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens – and arbitrary detention at the government’s hands.”




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