By Yanks Darboe
In an article published by ‘The New Yorker’ on 10 February 2011, David Remnick, an editor with the paper wrote an article, which he entitled “THE DICTATOR IS THE LAST TO KNOW”. This was his response to a speech by the, then embattling, former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, whom – in spite of the glaring disgust of his people against his Presidency at the time – was trying all he can to delude himself that he should stay in power. Prompting David to write the followings in his article:
“The delusions of dictators are never more poignant—or more dangerous—than when they are in their death throes. To watch Hosni Mubarak today in his late-night speech in Cairo, as he used every means of rhetorical deflection to delay his inevitable end, was to watch a man so deluded, so deaf to the demands of history, that he was incapable of hearing an entire people screaming in his ear.”
Watching Dictator Yahya Jammeh’s speech on New Year’s eve 2016, which we transcribed below, compels one to reminisce the passage nicely summed up above by David Remnick, as well as the last defiant speeches of many dictators, such as: Khaddafi’s “I will die a matyre speech of 2011”; or Saddam Hussein’s “they (referring to US and Coalition troops) will be committing suicide at the gates of Bagdad, if they attack us”; or Lauren Gbagbo’s “what election results of 2011”; etc. They quite simply do not get it.
In his New Year’s message to the nation; President Yahya Jammeh reiterates his rejection and call for the nullification of the 1st December 2016 Presidential elections of the Gambia, which he lost fairly and squarely to his opponent, Adama Barrow. He further seeks, not just the nullification of the Presidential election result, through his petition pending at the Supreme Court of the Gambia, which – if he succeeds – may require a fresh Presidential Elections in the Gambia to be conducted by the IEC; but he further seeks the dissolution of the current Independent Electoral Commission.
The President re-iterates the same, despite being warned, advised and informed, repeatedly, that there is no such provision in the constitution of the Gambia, that mandates him or gives him the authority, through his petition to the Supreme Court, to achieve what he is seeking, which is both an annulment of the Presidential election results of 1st December 2016, and a further dissolution of the current IEC. He wants the IEC to be substituted to what he described to be, a fresh, patriotic and honest IEC.
Furthermore, President Jammeh is failing to comprehend that the constitution that affords him with the right to challenge the election results of 1 December 2016, also prohibits him from hanging on to power or remaining in power beyond the 18 of December 2017, the end of his current mandate. His rejection of the election results and petition filed at the Supreme Court, does not change that position. Instead the constitution requires him to transfer power to his opponent, President Elect Adama Barrow, who is rightly and constitutionally declared by the Independent Electoral Commission, as having the mandate of the Gambian people, to take the affairs of the country from the 18 January 2017.
Nothing prohibits him, President Jammeh from pursuing his petition in the Supreme Court, after his presidency. If he succeeds in his claim that the election results were not valid, at the Supreme Court; then President Elect Barrow, if at the time he is serving his Presidency, will be required to transfer power to the Speaker of the National Assembly -whoever happens to be the speaker of the National Assembly at the time – to run the affairs of the country. This will be the case until a fresh and fair Presidential Elections can be re-scheduled by the same IEC, but ensuring that the same mistakes – if any – found by the Supreme Court are not repeated.
However, President Jammeh, at present, seems deluded in his dogma, that it is his constitutional right to remain in power beyond his current mandate of 18 January 2017; so long as his appeal or petition is pending at the Supreme Court of the Gambia, until that can be concluded. Or quite simply, until he can succeed at what he is seeking. This is simply unconstitutional and tantamount to constitutional coup d’état.
It is worth emphasising that an appeal or a petition filed to the Supreme Court against an election results of a Presidential Election, does not and cannot be construed as given any mandate to rule until that petition or appeal is determined by the Supreme Court. Neither can any mandate to rule be driven from such a pending court petition or appeal at the Supreme Court. The mandate to rule constitutionally derives from the people, after a candidate secures a simple majority in an IEC conducted Presidential elections, and his or her victory is certified and declared by the IEC. A dissatisfied opposing candidate in that election can challenge that election results to the Supreme Court, but that challenge, on its own, does not affect or defeat the declaration of the IEC, until a competent Supreme Court of the Gambia can uphold that challenge.
Furthermore, it is absurd that the President, who personally chose and appointed the IEC chairman, a year before the Presidential elections, is now questioning the impartiality and integrity of his own appointed referee to officiate the game.
President Jammeh further claimed that there is a moral justification to his claim for the annulment of the Presidential election results, as “he will not cheat or allow anyone to cheat on his behalf; hence he will not tolerate anyone to cheat him”.
However, even how he is currently conducting his challenge or petition against the Presidential election results at the Supreme Courts, begs questioning of cheating and partiality by many. For the simple reason that; he is the person recruiting or appointing the Judges to his Supreme Court, solely for the purpose of hearing his own appeal or petition at that court.
The sound of that narration alone is suspicious enough for one to rule-in cheating, much more to note that he deliberately made that court redundant for the last 2 years, in order that his political opponents would not be able to bring their appeals to that same court during that period. One wonders how is it morally fair that the court is easily constituted when the President wants to appeal, but not constituted or available when others or his opponents have or want to appeal at that same court.
President Jammeh further wishes to advise ECOWAS about their non-interference legal obligations, whilst failing to recognise and appreciate the same message ECOWAS is reminding him of, which is his constitutional duties and obligations under the Gambian constitution to step down on 18 January 2017, when his mandate derived from the Gambian people in 2011 comes to an end. If he fails to do such, he should be the least or last person to advise ECOWAS or others about their legal or moral duties and obligations.
If he fails to step down come 18 January 2017; he should further save himself the sabre-rattling to defend the Gambia’s constitution, independence and sovereignty. For, he will be the most notorious rebel against the Gambia’s constitution, independence and sovereignty, by staging a constitutional coup. In the same vein, he should further save himself and the rest of the Gambian nation, from the brags of being their prophet of patriotism, peace and stability in the Gambia. For, if he refuses to relinquish power on 18 January 2017, he will prove to be the worst enemy of the Gambia, and our greatest Satan of discord and instability to that country.
They said there is a Saranhulleh wisdom, which states that: ‘if you have a problem with one person, you may be right, but if you have a problem with everybody, you are definitely wrong!’
We now hereunder reproduce our transcribed speech of President Jammeh’s New Year’s Message in full below:
“President Jammeh’s New Year’s Message to the Nation
Fellow Gambians and friends of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia, we thank Allah Subhanahu-wa-ta-ala. For his blessings and gift of life, to allow us to witness yet the dawn of another year in the Gregorian calendar.
I take this opportunity to wish all Gambians, non-Gambians residence in the Gambia, and all friends of the Gambia the world over: a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a more prosperous 2017 for the benefit of all humankind.
It has become a tradition that when we enter a new year, we as god-fearing people renew our faith in Allah as a submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid satanic temptations to do evil.
Fellow Gambians; I believe it also an occasion to strengthen our commitment to the letter and spirit of the Gambia National Anthem, particularly the sacrosanct of Justice as the guide of our actions towards the common good and the cementing of unity amongst our diverse people.
Fellow Gambians; it is the pursuit of Justice as provided for in the constitution of the Gambia that serves as the basis of my protest and rejection of the December 1 Presidential Election, after my initial conceding of defeat and offer to guide and counsel Barrow in the execution of his duties.
Given that all previous elections, since I became president of the Gambia, were conducted with the undoubted competence and impartiality of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), I conceded defeat with the belief that the results announced by the IEC on December 2nd 2016, were accurate and genuine.
However, when on Monday, December 5th , 2016, the chairman of the IEC invited all political parties to the Head Quarters of the Commission to inform them of his counting errors and its rectification of the figures without specifying the number of votes transposed and added to Adama Barrow nationwide, my suspicion of the impartiality and honesty of the current IEC and the falsification of the results were aroused.
The findings of further investigations unearthed abnormalities that vindicated this suspicion. Given this unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections; what we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their President in free and fair elections to be organized by a fresh, patriotic, Allah fearing and honest Independent Electoral Commission just like how it was under the leadership of Mr. Carayol.
Let me repeat for purpose of clarity; the findings of further investigations unearthed abnormalities that vindicated this suspicion. Given this unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections; what we are simply and rightfully asking for, is to return to the polls and allow the Gambian people to elect who they want to be their President in free and fair elections to be organized by a fresh, patriotic, Allah fearing and honest Independent Electoral Commission just like it was under the leadership of Mr. Carayol.
Thus, fellow Gambians; the moral behind my nullification of the results is that much as I would not cheat or allow anyone to cheat on my behalf, so will I not tolerate anyone to cheat me.
Yet fellow Gambians, in spite of the fact that cheating is condemned by both Islam and Christianity, and that cheating in an election is prohibited by law, and petition against fraud election results provided for in our constitution, some interest groups and individuals have championed the campaign for me to step down. The campaign dismisses the legitimacy of my change of position after my initial concession of defeat.
Yet, fellows Gambians, change for the better is commonplace in all decision-making processes in pursuit of good governance. Development programs are modified to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and beneficiary participation in program implementation. Legislations are amended in response to emergent issues and to buttress the efficacy of law enforcement. Court verdicts can also be subjected to appeals to ensure that justice prevails.
In the same vein, election results are petitioned to verify that the established rules and procedures have been impartially applied and observed and that the results accurately represents the will of the people and not results that have been crooked by the IEC in favour of a particular candidate. This provision of post electoral petition is provided for in the constitution of the Gambia.
Thus, fellow Gambians, in filing a petition in the Supreme Court, I am merely acting in accordance with the oath I took to defend the constitution of the Gambia as your President and to exercise my right of appeal, as a candidate during the presidential elections of 2016.
Nevertheless, fellow Gambians, I have noticed that there are appeals in some quarters for me step down. This tantamount to disregarding, this constitutional provision that should govern the resolution of the current impasse.
Most, if not all reasons advanced for their appeals for me re-embraced my initial position, are based on the fears of a military confrontation that leads to violence and concern for an outbreak of war in this peaceful country of ours; but a military confrontation with who? Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression and there will be no compromise for that.
Let me make it clearly; most, if not all reasons advanced for their appeals for me re-embraced my initial position are based on the fears of a military confrontation that leads to violence and concern for an outbreak of war in this peaceful country of ours; a military confrontation with who? Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend the country against any aggression and there will be no compromise on this.
My government will In-shallah never opt for such confrontation, unless when we are compelled to defend our sovereignty, independence and dignity. Defending our sovereignty and independence is a sacred duty for all patriotic Gambians, more so the Gambia Armed Forces.
What is clearly incontrovertible is that the decision of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of the December 1st 2016, elections by whatever means possible, is totally illegal, as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty. It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable.
This blatant impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate. This partisanship of ECOWAS has also disqualified it to provide mediation services, as the genuine mediator has to be neutral and impartial to win the trust and confidence of the parties to the conflict.
Thus we will not enter into negotiation brokered by ECOWAS, if it does not recognise that the provisions of the Gambian constitution provides the basic legal principles to guide the sorting out of the details of this stalemate, in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution legally binding on both parties.
Without this quest for justice within the context of the constitution of the Gambia and the elimination of the threat of use force in the position of ECOWAS, the impasse will continue with the risk of escalating into a military confrontation. We have been principled, vehemently condemn violence, but we shall never condoned injustice and we will not be threatened. Our sovereignty is not for compromise.
However, I wish to remind you, fellow Gambians, that my government has an indisputable track record of peace; we came to power through a bloodless revolution and ensured the sustenance of peace throughout the past 22 years. We exported this culture of peace to trouble spots in the sub-region and beyond through successful mediation efforts that resolves such conflicts.
The Gambia National Army has also established itself as a force of effective participant in peace keeping in other parts of the world. Thus fellow Gambians, on the basis of deliberate policy my government develops an atmosphere of peace and stability in our country and we remain strongly committed to guard the sustenance of this culture of peace that is the envy of many nations and we will defend it to the last person.
Let me repeat this part; on the basis of deliberate policy my government develop an atmosphere of peace and stability in our country and remain strongly committed to guard the sustenance of this culture of peace that is the envy of many nations and we will defend it and protect it to the last person.
In conclusion fellow Gambians; as we welcome the new year 2017, I wish you all the best and the almighty Allah’s blessings to cleanse our hearts and minds of evil intentions and joins together for our common good. May Allah shower all of us with the divine virtues of faith, Tawheed and Iman in our hearts and minds to submit ourselves completely to him alone and worship him alone.
If all of us endeavoured through prayers and perseverance in good deeds to cultivate and live by this godly moral standards, our socio-economic development achievements, as a nation, will be beyond imagination, Inshallah.
Long live the Islamic Republic of the Gambia; the almighty is the greatest (Allahu Ak-barr). I thank you all for your attention!”