Publisher’s Note – Yahya Jammeh’s Ignominious End
Just when various parts of the world were beginning to pick out Africa’s eﬀorts at institutionalising democratic values in governance citing recent cases of smooth and stable transition of power after election losses by some incumbent blossoming presidents, Yahya Jammeh has cast a slur on the continent’s profile.
Jammeh, who shot his way to power in 1994 and has ruled the nation of 1.8 million for a generation since, made himself a bad dream in his country Gambia and indeed Africa until he was shown the way out of the corridors of power. He had sworn to rule Gambia for “a billion years”.
On December 1, 2016, he lost the presidential election, and conceded victory to the opposition, the United Democratic Party’s candidate, Adama Barrow on his “clear victory”.
On December 5, opposition members jailed for protesting against Jammeh were released on bail. It is not certain if this was at the root of it all, but the electoral commission claimed the next day that Barrow’s landslide win was not exactly accurate and assigned 3.6 per cent as the margin of his victory over his closest opponent.
Jammeh apparently reclined on this to state on December 9: “In the same way that I accepted the results faithfully believing that the Independent Electoral Commission was independent and honest and reliable, I hereby reject the results in totality.” He quickly followed this with an appeal praying the Supreme Court to repudiate the results, and in the process triggered worldwide concern, in response to which the UN Security Council in league with heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded that he acknowledge defeat.
Unfortunately, the despot gallivanted from one wrong step to another in the new year firing 12 ambassadors who advised him to hand over the presidency. Ministers were also either sacked or resigned in response to frustrations.
It is disgusting that Jammeh who failed for 22 years (more than 8030 days) to improve the well-being of tiny Gambia was not ashamed to resist all genuine eﬀorts made through international diplomacy to make him step down from his high horse of selfishness and greed still intact rather than in tatters.
Today, allegations are rife that his government plundered the country’s treasury before his forced flight from the country where he should otherwise be respected had he avoided the traumatic conditions and anxieties that trailed his government.
His is certainly not a good example, and his ilk must not be allowed to repeat in Africa for whatever reasons. That he was forced to relinquish power after his generation-long grip on tiny West African country, Gambia, is praiseworthy. The development should send strong signals to other sit-tight leaders and those who think they can continue to take their people for a ride, that change has happened in the continent, and must be embraced by all, going forward.
On the other hand, President Adama Barrow whose position and interest had been secured and protected must ensure that non of the institutions and personalities that stood by him while the hellish moments lasted is let down. Good governance and improved well-being of Gambians are the least expectations from stakeholders and how he achieves these within the ambit of democracy would count.
Publisher: Carolyn Isaac