By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
Yahya Jammeh is a dictator.
Mr. Jammeh also totes his Islamic faith on his sleeves.
There is nothing wrong with a person having such ties and strong connection to his or her religion. What society expects of the individual is to treat others with respect and dignity.
No matter what a person is in life, co-existence means respecting the individual, respecting individual liberties, adhering to the rule of law that makes a country safe and livable, and treat others as you want them to treat you.
Yahya Jammeh is not any of that.
Since he came to power in 1994 in a bloodless coup that overthrew long-time leader Dawda Jawara, Mr. Jammeh has shown little interest respecting individual liberties, respecting others for who and what they are in life, and making Gambia a genuinely democratic nation.
In fact, since 1996, the political party that Jammeh founded after he overthrew Jawara, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, has won every election in the country.
Yahya Jammeh won the Gambian presidential election in 1996; 2001 (53%); 2006 (67.3%); and 2011 by 72 percent.
When he couldn’t win the 2016 election, which coalition opposition leader, Adama Barrow won by more than 43 percent of the vote, Jammeh initially accepted defeat, but later cites “abnormalities” and called for fresh elections.
What a way not to accept defeat?
According to observers at home and abroad, Adama Barrow won the elections by giving Mr. Jammeh a whipping at the polls.
Barrow did what many dared not do in Gambia – that is to challenge and soundly defeat a deranged dictator at his game and in his own backyard in a country held hostage by Yahya Jammeh, who thinks Gambia and the people of Gambia are pawns in the delusional games he has played for over two decades.
The 2016 Gambian presidential election was an uphill battle that Yahya Jammeh couldn’t win, because the people of Gambia unafraid of the dictator, came out in droves and let it be known that they were dead serious about throwing him out, no matter what kind of embarrassing antics he had under his sleeves.
It didn’t make any difference anyway, because Yahya Jammeh’s antics are as old, visionless and uninspiring as he is; and the Gambian people exercised (with courage, of course), their voting rights to throw the idiot out.
In the wake of the Gambian presidential election that saw Adama Barrow as the undisputed winner in that country’s presidential elections, a colleague wanted to know my views on the issue because he thought Yahya Jammeh did the right thing and set the bar high for other African despots when he initially conceded defeat.
My colleague obviously never thought Yahya Jammeh could reverse course later the way he did by throwing an entire country and its citizen’s future into chaos and uncertainty.
Even though Yahya Jammeh initially accepted the electoral results in the wake of his country’s presidential election, I said to my colleague that (1) I don’t trust Jammeh (2) I want him arrested, jailed or put under house arrest immediately before he attempts to destabilize the new government (3) I just don’t want officials in Gambia to let Yahya Jammeh run around freely in the country like a stray animal.
I also said to my colleague that the idea that this delusional guy is in the country roaming freely is a threat to president-elect Barrow, and possess a national security threat to the nation, because Yahya Jammeh could be on his way to destabilizing the country once again.
I guess, I was right this time.
Yahya Jammeh has been at the helm of political dictatorial power for decades, and have at his fingertips paid sycophantic loyalists and friends who could help him destroy the country’s chances of moving forward.
The political problem in Gambia is a Gambian problem that requires a Gambian solution.
However, the idea of dispatching to Gambia African leaders who are not credible, and have their own internal dictatorial and human rights problems, is a mockery to the process.
The Gambian political crisis requires a thoughtful, respectable, neutral and independent statesman or woman who can be accepted by all sides, and most importantly, the Gambian people to remove Yahya Jammeh.