The 2016 General Elections in The Gambia
will be a do or die for all …
The PPP 2014 Global Tour of the Diaspora.
Can we remove Dictator Jammeh through these ballots?
By Kaba Sallah
One thing is very evident, that Dictator Jammeh. A.k.a the Butcher of Kanilai or Jallow Kanilai (JK) has absolutely no plans to voluntarily surrender his choke hold on power in Banjul, come general elections in 2016. We can all agree on that; that elections are just one tool in his tool box to try legitimize his failed rule, and he will not stop at anything to claim victory in 2016, including importing “Green Volunteers”, from across the border from Casamance!
In light of the ongoing and enlightening tour of the Peoples Progressive Party ( PPP) , ‘meet and greet” , of the U.S., the debate raged on, especially on Freedom Radio Online, as to whether elections are a viable option to remove the Dictators claws on our collective national kneck. So the question remains; the Ballot of the Bullet? Now that the newly formed National Resistance Movement ( NRG ) has announced plans to consider the military option. Pa Nderry Mbai of the Freedom Newspaper Online has come out and vociferously challenged the election route that the PPP is advocating, in their U.S. tour, with Hons Omar Jallow (OJ) and Bakary B. Dabo ( BB).
Mr. Mbai is well-intentioned, and clearly understands the Dictator’s ulterior motive of lulling the beleaguered Gambian masses into believing that elections will be free and fair, when he is the referee and judge of the outcome ! Dictator Jammeh controls all state resources, including the radio and TV, the security forces and will use them to buy votes, mobilize his base and intimidate the opposition. So in that kind of atmosphere, there can only be one outcome!
My counter argument, however, is that a military option or elections are not two mutually exclusive events! They can both happen to pile on the pressure on the cornered Dictator! Political groups can do what they are good at, …contest in elections, even if the odds are heavily stacked against them. In the process, they will get an opportunity to get their message out and also mobilize their dormant members. The NRG can go ahead and strike, militarily and in a targeted way, at the monster at a time and place of their choosing, they don’t need to announce that tom us! We don’t need to waste valuable time at condemning the efforts of the PPP and others in proactively positioning themselves to create a unified and dependable coalition. Coalitions, by nature, are temporary arrangements to achieve a specific goal, they are not supposed to be permanent. Coalitions can also be a reliable negotiated, and well-defined power-sharing mechanism to avoid a power vacuum, or avoid precipitating one in the future. I believe, with the new media, Jammeh will have a harder time to hide hic cheating, and Fredomnewspaper will be invaluable in helping to expose the Dictator through it’s well-placed contacts on the ground!
The political parries best and only chance of victory is through a unified front, period! The PPP town hall with OJ and BB are doing a superb job at rallying their supporters and the opposition to come together ahead of time, …more proactively this time. In my opinion, the PPP is doing a great service to all the opposition just by expounding and repeating the message that, in 20 years, Dictator Jammeh, has brought Gambia to its knees and it’s time to finally end our long national nightmare for the country. In my opinion, the other opposition parties should follow suit and conduct their own tour of the Diaspora in the not too distant future, to repeat the same message of unity of purpose. The playing and foolishness is over! We know that some in opposition, like Hamat Bah’s NRP may be looking for another opportunity to wreck the coalition, again! So any future coalition should not waste valuable time trying to court anyone, including Hamat Bah, in my opinion! Some in the opposition, unfortunately, have become too comfortable and cozy with the status quo, with the Dictator, so a democratic exercise will be disruptive to their new lifestyle, or new found wealth, albeit ill-gotten! The question is, what will Jammeh’s reaction be if an opposition coalition succeeds at the ballot?
The Gbagbo scenario
Folks, remember that Dictator Yaya Jammeh was perhaps the only African head of state ( Dos Santos of Angola, to a lesser extent) who openly rejected the presidency of Cote D’Ivoire’s Alasan Ouattara, when President Gbagbo was finally removed by French military intervention in April of 2011. Think about what Dos Santos, Jammeh and Gbagbo have in common!…
Following the elections in 2011, in which Laurent Gbagbo clearly lost, he refused to surrender power to Ouattara, until the French intervened, following a bloody but low intensity civil war. So, was it a coincidence that Jammeh was openly in support of Gbagbo? I think not! Jammeh sympathized with Gbagbo because of similar circumstances. In his view, Gbagbo was forced to conduct elections after he became an international pariah, after the economy had crumbled. Gbagbo had burned so many bridges and committed so many crimes against humanity. So Gbagbo had so much to lose if he went for elections, and everything to lose if he lost elections! Today he is facing justice at the International Criminal Court ( ICC) in the Hague.
Jammeh is feeling cornered with few or no friends in the international community. The elections will further expose his underbelly, his weaknesses. The opposition are in the best position they have ever been by default,…not because of anything they did on their own, but rather because of a comedy of errors by the Dictator, which has brought the economy to its knees. We all know that Jammeh has been grabbing land across the country, in strategic choke points across the country, fencing it off, from public access (including inside the airport! } . He has been quietly stashing weapons and training the “Green Boys/Grils” in paramilitary exercises. His intentions are no secret! BB Dabo is making a strong and ominous case in the PPP U.S.tour that Jammeh is setting the stage for a Gbagbo style reaction to the 2016 elections, or an outright Rwanda or Congo ( DRC) genocide! I believe him, …BB Dabo’s conclusions! Jammeh has used the public airwaves to name and target a group – The Mandinka – as undesirable and contrary to his power, persecutes them, discriminates against them in every aspect of public life. He pits other tribes and groups against them and against each other! What more do you need to know? BB Dabo not only made a strong intellectual case for a PPP revival and for a coalition of the willing opposition, he also issued a warning of the “gathering clouds” of conflict. Having grown up in the 90’s, this was the first time I heard both BB and OJ speak in such an intimate setting in New York! The factual history they are submitting, and their life experiences should be canned and produced in a new history text of The Gambia, to re-educate this lost generation, in a new political dispensation, in my opinion! These two men are accomplished, proven and dignified, and that is what we are missing, for 20years! You don’t have to be a supporter of the PPP to understand their message!
Is the Economy stupid? Are you better off today than in 1994?
Are you better off today, economically, than in 2004, or how about in 1994? Yes you, … be honest to yourself? If you lived in the Diaspora in 1994, or in 2004, has your remittances increased exponentially to solve the same problems? How is your family’s or friend’s businesses doing today, compared to 2004 or 1994? Do you know anyone who has started a business recently, in 2004, or before 1994, and how are they doing? Has the energy, electricity situation (* lights) improved or worsened in recent years, despite the laughable rhetoric? How about transportation, the ferry crossing at Banjul/Barra – connectiong North to South banks, has it improved or worsened the standard of living for your family and friends? How is our relations with Senegal today compared to before 1994? How is the business across the border? What is the percentage of high school graduates who actually “pass” their exams? Do you know any farmer who has the confidence that they will be able to sell their produce/harvest after toiling fort months? How about the media, …how come even the Foroyaa ( PDOIS) newspaper failed to mention the anniversary of the April 2000 killings of some 15 students? How about the police and court system, do you have confidence in them as institutions? My friends, the answer to all these questions and a few more I may have left out, is the definition of development, freedom nd progress or the lack thereof, and not a few mediocre white elephants and roads, being paraded as evidence of development, when the lives of the average people are not being improved! After 20 years of this abusive forced marriage, is it not time for a diviorce, a break for freedom? Some of our people are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, we need to rescue them, my friends!
OJ is showing himself, during the PPP tour, as the formidable thorn in Jammeh’s thick back side, a captivating communicator and mobilizer that he is. He stood on principle, 20 years ago, when he refused to accept a position with the junta, today he has been vindicated. The Gambians in the Diaspora are the economic back bone of the country and our influence is highly under rated. We are the one keeping the Gambian economy afloat and flush with much needed foreign transfers and remittances. We are torn between our obligation and loyalty to our familes and loved ones back home and revulsion of this Jammeh dictatorship. Our remittances and fees provide funds to the regime! So therefore, we should have some say and influence over people we feed, clothe and shelter. Why should we be increasing our remittances to meet the same needs because of inflation, irresponsible and juvenile leadership? The businessman-in- chief, or thief –in – chief, has succeeded in collapsing every industry he forces himself into, without understanding it! A loaf of bread is now some D9.00, not to talk about the price of a bag of rice or sugar, or a kilo of beef, or chicken! Even the reliable “ Kobo ” or “Chaaloh” fish have become prohibitively expensive, or they have simply gone on exile as well! So as DIasporans, we should all appeal to our families and friends that their survival and destiny is not in the Dictators hands. Therefore they should vote to get him out, and replace him with a government that truly reflects and represents their values and aspirations! That should not be a hard sell at all! The Jammeh junta does not represent Gambian values, aspirations and temperament, their behavior and debauchery is alien to us, we should all reject it come 2016 general elections,
To be continued ……