You said nothing, Mr. Yammeh
By Baba Galleh Jallow
Mr. outgoing president and soon-to-be former Babili Mansa, we now have occasion to have another conversation with you, this time about your so-called new year’s message to the Gambian people, whom you have reduced to a state of distress and anxiety they had not suffered for 22 years under your brutal dictatorship. Since you are in the habit of grossly distorting misrepresenting the facts to us and about us whenever it suits your purposes, we are going to take this opportunity to give you a taste of your own medicine by calling you Mr. Yammeh. We will quote a few parts of your rambling “speech” to make it clear to you that you said nothing because you have nothing to say and that you should just zip it and go, which is the best choice you can make under the circumstances. First, you had the audacity to spew the following from your horse’s mouth:
“It has become a tradition that when we enter a new year, we as God fearing people renew our faith in Allah, our submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid satanic temptations to do evil.”
Now wait a minute Mr. Yammeh. Do you really fear God Mr. Yammeh? Here you are, holding an entire nation hostage, creating fear in the hearts of the young and the old, the healthy and the infirm; and you tell us about fearing God? You are a victim of the very satanic temptations you pretend to advise us to avoid. What is your uncontrollable lust for power, this lust for power for which you are willing to sacrifice our country but the very work of the devil, a classic case of satanic temptation, of the evil one blinding your heart to all common sense and all reason? Please give us a break about your satanic hypocrisy. Pack your mountain of wealth and go away; do not make Gambia and the peace-loving Gambian people a victim of your satanic temptation to cling on to power.
And who are you to talk to us about strengthening our commitment to the national anthem Mr. Yammeh? Don’t you think we know you deliberately substituted national anthem for national constitution here precisely because you know you are insulting the very letter and spirit of our national constitution? You talk to us of justice, yet you deliberately spit on the justice of our constitution and the justice owed to the peaceful people of The Gambia by refusing to respect their desire for you to get off their backs. You have always insulted our constitution and you can’t help yourself even in this very last moment of your days in power. You have no conception of the common good Mr. Yammeh. The only good you can conceive of is your own, personal selfish good. And you are determined to pursue that good even if it means holding an entire country hostage and dragging us into a violent conflict simply because you have the backing of the military. Here’s more of the selfish and self-justifying garbage you spewed on your so-called new year’s message coming from your own horse’s mouth Mr. Yammeh. You barked:
“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 1st presidential election, after my initial conceding of defeat and offer to guide and counsel Adama 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 headquarters of the commission to inform them of its 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 was aroused. The findings of further investigations unearthed abnormalities that vindicated this suspicion.”
Come on now Mr. Yammeh. Do you realize how empty you sound here? Have you noticed that for the past 22 years, you have invoked the justice of the Gambian constitution only when it suits your own selfish interests? The IEC could have kept quiet about the anomaly it discovered. It was a mark of the IEC’s honesty that they decided to call everyone’s attention to the mistake they made. We are certain that if the mistake changed the results in your favor, the IEC would have so declared accordingly. And let us just remind you that electoral commissions do not cheat for the opposition in Africa. And when you say you want another election, don’t you think we know that you are going to be declared the winner of that election? No, Mr. Yammeh, there will be no other election with you as a candidate in The Gambia. The Gambia belongs to the Gambian people and we will no longer allow you to monopolize ownership of our country. Your time is up and up Mr. Yammeh. Your sun as dictator of Gambia has set once and for all. You are trying to elect yourself to power again, as you did back in 1994. But times have changed Mr. Yammeh and as you can see, 2016 does not look or feel like 1994 at all.
But in spite of the passage of time, you have been so busy enjoying your illegitimate power that you still think Gambians will buy all your crap about God-fearing when you say you want “a fresh, patriotic, Allah fearing, honest, independent electoral commission just like it was under the leadership of Mr. Carayol? Are you fantasizing that when this impossible election happens (it never will), you will appoint Mr. Carayol again to head the IEC? But you know what Mr. Yammeh? If they did even Mr. Carayol cannot save you from an even bigger defeat because the Gambian people now hate you even more than they did before the December 1st election. You have demonstrated to the Gambian people that you are ready to sacrifice their country, their peace of mind and their very lives to prove to them that no elections will ever remove you from power and that you will never allow any opposition candidate to be president of our country. Do you remember the very many times you bragged that elections will never remove you from power, Mr. Yammeh? Don’t you think we know that your rejection of the results is only your way of trying to prove yourself right that elections will never remove you from power and that you will never let an opposition leader become president of our country? Yes, we do Mr. Yammeh. And no, there will be no second election Mr. Yammeh. Gambians refuse to return to the polls and if you don’t step down voluntarily, you will be forcefully ejected and meet the humiliating end you deserve.
And please, Mr. Yammeh; please don’t talk to us about cheating. You cheated in all the past four elections and for 22 years you have cheated us of our national resources and our rights and freedoms. How come you came to power as a poor lieutenant but are now one of the wealthiest men in the world? How did you become so filthy rich, Mr., Yammeh? How come you are the president of one of the poorest countries in the world but one of the richest men in the world? How come you now own a personal jet, a multi-million dollar mansion in Maryland, expensive vehicles, a zoo and so many business concerns that it’s hard to count them? How come you live the most flamboyant lifestyle in The Gambia you’re your supposed anger against flamboyant lifestyles was one of your most visible excuses for illegally toppling the Jawara government? Where you in fact dying to live a flamboyant lifestyle back in the day when you were a near-starving lieutenant in the Gambia National Army? You certainly have become the most flamboyant head of state in Africa, if not the world, wearing heavy boubous under the hottest of suns and totting around a sword, prayer beads and what looks like a religious book everywhere you go, and driving in one of the world’s most expensive bulletproof limousines. You had no right to nullify the results of our national election Mr. Yammeh. So please spare us the crap about moral principles and cheating. You have been one of the world’s biggest kleptocrats all your years in power and have presided over Africa’s most kleptocratic regime since Mobutu’s in Zaire.
Yes, Mr. Yammeh. Cheating is indeed sinful and cheating elections is prohibited by law, which is precisely why the entire world is asking you stop trying to cheat and step down. Do you think everyone else is lying and you alone are right, Mr. Yammeh, in the whole big wide world? Stop kidding yourself Mr. Yammeh and redeem yourself before it’s too late. The campaign against you that you whine about is a campaign for truth and justice that you cannot escape this time around. Please don’t talk to us about change for the better. You are capable of change only when that change is in your own selfish interest, and we have told you this for the past 22 years. You have no moral authority to talk to us of development programs and all the hifalutin terminology with which your speech writer sprinkled your new year ramble. You had your chance for 22 years and you blew it; now you just need to zip it and get out of our faces.
And what in the world Mr. Yammeh, do you mean by “Development programmes 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?” What kind of crap is that? For one thing Mr. Yammeh, we all know that this is not your language. We know that for once, you are so scared and confused that one of your minions wrote your so-called new year’s message and put in all that linguistic garbage with zero practical relevance to our current situation. Are you realizing for the first time in your life that “court verdicts can also be subjected to appeals to ensure that justice prevails?” How many times have you disregarded and even insulted court verdicts in The Gambia? How many times have you trampled on the rule of law in our country, carrying out extra judicial arrests, incarcerations, and even killings without due process? How dare you talk to us about the rule of law when you have asked the rule of law to go to hell so many times during your 22 years of banal misrule? So now you are talking about a “constitutional provision that should govern the resolution of the current impasse”? You are no respecter of constitutional provisions Mr. Yammeh; have never been. So please spare us your cosmetic hypocritical appeals to constitutional provisions.
And then you claim that Gambians and ECOWAS and the rest of the international community are asking you to step down because they fear a military confrontation. No, Mr. Yammeh, that is not why everybody is asking you to step down. Everybody is asking you to step down because you lost the election and because if you don’t leave peacefully, there will indeed be a military confrontation between you and whoever among the Gambian military is foolhardy enough to support you in your manifestly unjust plot to hold the Gambian people and their elected government hostage. All your rant is premised upon your erroneous and sadly misplaced assumption that you will still be president of The Gambia on January 19. No you will not be, Mr. Yammeh, even if you remain holed up at State House. After January 19, you will be an outlaw trying to stage another coup against the people and the legitimate government of The Gambia. So if ECOWAS declares war, they will not be declaring war against The Gambia, but against a criminal cohort of soldiers including you who are bent upon holding an entire nation hostage against their will. Members of the Gambia armed forces who will be willing to die for you will not be dying in defense of the sovereignty, independence and dignity of The Gambia. They will be dying in defense of an outlaw and a rebel trying to sabotage the will of the Gambian people. In order to drive this important and irrefutable point into your thick skull Mr. Yammeh, let us quote you here for a moment. You said from your own horse’s mouth:
“What is clearly incontrovertible is that the decision of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of the December 1st 2016 election 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.” No, Mr. Yammeh, it is neither illegal nor in violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. Oh, so now you know what entrenched clauses are when you have habitually trampled upon all manner of entrenched clauses in the Gambian constitution? Anyway, we put it to you, Mr. Yammeh, that The Gambia is a signatory to the ECOWAS Declaration of Political Principles (the Abuja Declaration, 1991), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other international protocols governing human rights and national sovereignty. As such, we guess, perhaps wrongly, that you must have heard about “the responsibility to protect” and “the right of humanitarian intervention” as enshrined and adopted in the report of the United Nation’s International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Perhaps because you considered The Gambia as your personal private fiefdom with no obligation to anyone, you have remained ignorant of these protocols and important aspects of recent international political culture and relations.Well, allow us to put it to you Mr. Yammeh, that according to current international protocols governing the question of intervention and state sovereignty, where a legally constituted government is not able to protect itself and its citizens – as Mr. Barrow’s will be after January 19 if you don’t step down – then the principle of non-intervention gives way to the international community’s responsibility to protect the Gambian people in accordance with the principle of humanitarian intervention. ECOWAS has what is called “right authority” to do just that because it meets all the conditions required for international military intervention in The Gambia. It has a just cause in that you will be trying to stage a coup against Gambia’s legitimate government and you will be trampling upon and denying the will of the Gambian people. It has right authority to intervene militarily because if you don’t step down by January 19, all precautionary and non-military options would have been exhausted; and ECOWAS has right authority because it has the full backing of the UN Security Council, in addition to the African Union to intervene militarily to protect Gambians and enforce the will of the Gambian people. Finally, ECOWAS meets the operational principles required to justify military intervention: It has a clear objective, namely to protect the new Gambian government and the Gambian people from a predatory military usurper of their national and natural sovereignty; and it has unity of command in that the decision to intervene militarily is unanimous and it has a military force ready and willing to move in an extract or otherwise neutralize the offending package. So in essence Mr. Yammeh, you said absolutely nothing in your new year’s rant and your best bet is to swallow your hubris and negotiate your way out, even if it means a little loss of face. The other option is too ugly for us to even imagine. As the Fulani elders would tell you, half a leg is better than no leg at all. No samaday, Mr. Yammeh!