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Ambassador C. Patricia Alsup
Ambassador C. Patricia Alsup

According to the Embassy of the United States of America in Gambia the government of the Gambia has unexpectedly withdrawn police protection which resulted in the embassy closing all non-essential services from Thursday June 9 until further notice.   The Embassy has not elaborated on what must have triggered such a drastic action from the regime of Yahya Jammeh.  The Embassy however indicated in the press release that it will continue to closely monitor the situation and will keep the general public informed as events unfold.

The Gambia has recently witnessed an unprecedented wave of protests against the rogue regime of Yahya Jammeh a former wrestler who has ruled the country with an iron fist for over two decades.  His rule has been characterized by serious crackdown on dissent punctuated with killings of opponents, disappearances without trace and brutal torture tactics.  The leader of the main opposition party ; United Democratic Party(UDP) Lawyer Ousainou Darboe  together with other party militants and concerned Gambians are still held behind bars for protesting against the killing of  opposition youth leader Solo Sandeng.  The detainees have been plying to court house from Mile 11 central prisons for close to two months without bail.  Concerned Gambians show solidarity in numbers around court house in Banjul at every court proceeding. Because of the tense atmosphere around every court proceeding  which sometimes results in confrontation with security personnel the country has been gauged as unstable and some western countries have cautioned their citizens to stay away from public gatherings in Gambia.

The action of the regime of Yahya Jammeh to withdraw police protection to the U.S embassy has not come as a surprise for many saw it coming in his rhetoric against the west.  Some observers say Jammeh may have issued such directives to express his anger over the light sentences given to the 30th December 2014 statehouse attackers.  Jammeh expected heavy sentences on the attackers but to his utter dismay one of the attackers Papa faal walked out free while the rest received fines and prison sentences ranging from one year to six months.

Another reason for the tyrant’s madness to the U.S could be the surveillance drones that unveiled his nefarious timber smuggling from the Cassamance forest in collaboration with Chinese companies in which he allegedly made 240 million dollars. Observers say he believes it is  the U.S through Africom  that must have tipped off the Senegalese authorities on the magnitude of the illegal timber trade with the help of images supplied by surveillance drones.

Concerned citizens of the Gambia have been clamoring for a travel ban on Jammeh and his cronies, such a decision, they believe would be a heavy blow on Jammeh and his close associates especially his wife who flies to the U.S every now and then.  There seems to be a tug of war between the U.S  and the Gambia , how that war would end is not clear but it would greatly depend on what long term measures the U.S government would adopt on such an unexpected withdrawal of police protection to  the U.S  Embassy Banjul.