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Democracy Train On The Move In West Africa

Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh

Beginning of the De-Jammefication of The Gambia

Dec. 30, 2014

Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh

In the dawn of the day before New Year’s Eve (Dec. 30, 2014), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC-World News) reported the heavy exchanges of gunfire between President Yahya Jammeh’s security forces and forces allegedly loyal to Gen. Lamin Sanneh, the former Commander of the Gambian Armed Forces, near the Presidential Palace of that country’s capital. The report attributed the aforesaid gunfire to a thwarted coup attempt. By midday, the Banjul strongman had reportedly made an official announcement to the effect that he was still in charge of the government and affairs of the tiny strip-mall Anglophone country completely surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Senegal (See “Gambia Coup ‘Thwarted’ – Yahya Jammeh” BBC-World News / MyJoyOnline.com 12/30/14).

Mr. Jammeh, then 29 years old, toppled the government of the late President Dauda Jawara in 1994 and deliriously vowed to rule the former British colony for one billion years. But it well appears that the recent removal of Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Campaore, in power for 27 years, is beginning to have a ripple effect on mainland West Africa’s last bastion of military dictatorship. The primitive dynastic regime of the Eyademas is likely to follow next. As of this writing, the precise whereabouts of the man that yours truly has personally dubbed as “Mr. Corned-Beef Head” were unknown.

According to BBC-World News, the Gambian leader’s earlier claim that he had been on a state visit to France at the time of the apparently abortive coup-detat, had been promptly denied by a French foreign ministry official. There were speculations, however, that Mr. Jammeh might have been on a private visit to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Judging by the history of military dictatorships in the West African sub-region, there absolutely cannot be any gainsaying the fact that the Jammeh junta may be fast drawing to a close. And the latest attempt to hurry him out by forces allegedly loyal to Gen. Sanneh ought not to be prematurely either lauded or encouraged. The replacement of one military dictatorship with another at this civilized and advanced stage in Gambia’s history is not an event to be heartily celebrated, not by any measure or stretch of the imagination. What The Gambia needs presently is a revolutionary and visionary transitional leadership committed to ushering the country into a constitutionally guided democratic governance. And if the forces allegedly loyal to Gen. Sanneh have such an agenda as their topmost priority, then and only then would they deserve the unstinted and unreserved support of the overwhelming majority of the Gambian people.

Knowing what I know and have wistfully come to expect of the man, it is highly unlikely that Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama would issue any worthwhile or edifying statement on the most recent political developments in the Gambia, else I would have called on the current Chairman of ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) to issue a strongly worded statement encouraging of the democratic and progressive forces of that country.

But it needs to be promptly added that whether Ghana’s President Mahama redeems the integrity of his leadership or not, vis-a-vis the currently critical situation in the Gambia, is of no great moment. For in the end, in spite of his embarrassingly regressive and scandalous attempt to facilitate the stalling of the onward and decisive movement of democratic forces and culture in the wake of the forced resignation of President Campaore in Burkina Faso this past October, the democratic implantation, fertilization and salutary development in that country cannot be stalled or reversed. We expect to see the same process take place in the Gambia. This is what visionary Pan-African leadership ought to be about.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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