The Spotlight: The Gambia Beyond December 1st 2016; God Is Not To Blame. Part I
By Yero Jallow
We as citizens of the Gambia are at a defining moment and the country at the crossroads. December 1st 2016 is historic in many ways. Will she (The Gambia) make it or will she fall victim again to the negligence, disregard, and/or poor choices of her sons and daughters? The answer is a combination of predestination and freewill for believers of faith and chance based on numbers for the believers of science. To any of the two that you belong, you damn right know God is not to blame, as He (God) endowed you with freewill, your faculties to distinguish between wrong and right, and even beyond. After twenty-two years of dictatorship under the caprices of Jammeh, the Gambia deserves better leadership. A vote for Jammeh is certainly a mortgage of one’s pride, dignity, soul, and accepting the evil omen of the Jammeh regime. That said, let us begin to think ahead, prepare Gambians and their friends for the different likely outcomes, and forge ahead undiminished in spirit and efforts, to withstand the long hours of the struggle to become a truly liberated nation. The reason why the outcomes are worth worrying about is because the bad luck in the three-way race is in fact the biggest determinant in this year’s election. It is still foolish to cry over wasted milk which is unrecoverable. Let us now move beyond December 1st 2016.
The likelihoods are clear; it is a win for the Coalition flag bearer (Barrow), a win for GDC (Kandeh), or a win for the APRC (Jammeh), and that is just to be too honest; it is not possible to have two winners. We can speculate that Jammeh enjoys the advantage of incumbency, dictatorship; the home based propaganda media, the state resources, his terror machinery, and the very fact that he can rig the elections, and be conclusive that he will win. On Barrow’s end, we can argue that it constitutes up to 8 political parties, an independent (Madam Isatou), other civil organizations (Madam Tambajang), the very fact that he is from the UDP opposition party with the majority of followers, and the sympathy votes over the loss of his followers in persons of Solo Sandeng and Solo Nkrumah, the persecution of the entire UDP executive, and a lot more. Based on that, we can also conclude that Barrow will win. On Kanndeh, we can argue that he is new and offers a reconciliatory and/or divisive tone, grabbed his pool of voters from the APRC, a branch off from the original breed of frustrated APRC supporters, and conclude that their much fantasized 70% victory is true.
We can also play the demographic (Constituencies) ifs that the large Mandinka base (42%) based on the last recorded census will in fact weigh heavily for Barrow, the same that can be said about the Fulas (22%) will weigh for Kandeh, and the Jolas (10%) will weigh for Jammeh. Each of the candidates will then add supporters from the other tribes as supplement, added to some blind loyalty and/or sympathy that each of them might garner from Gambian voters. The calculus in tribal politics has proved to be a miscalculation, due to the fact that some voters might be beneficiaries of the current dictatorship, and it was just better for them to go with the devil you know than the one you don’t know example in 2006 Presidential elections, the UDP (Darboe) joined forces with NRP (Hamat Bah), while NADD (Sallah et al) made it a three-way. The miscalculation was that the Mandinkas and Fulas were going to weigh heavily for the UDP/NRP coalition, which failed the test of time, as Jammeh won, and that is just to caution you on the errors and bias involved in tribes. For Gambia’s traditional nature and the pockets of blind support pose great problems with likely serious consequences. For example, how many youths, women, and men are voting, and which of the candidates do any of these classes support? Are any of these classes enlightened and sensitized enough to make a golden vote choice? This will be known on December 1st2016. This election should have been a referendum, for democracy and rule of law (Yes) or not (no).
There is no doubt that Jammeh’s tone, divisive rhetoric, and open threats against citizens violated the election code of conduct for a level playing field, added to the very weakness of the Independent Electoral Commission( IEC), a compromised supposed Independent institution, composed of Jammeh’s enabling force and handpick, an interdependent relationship mutually between Jammeh and the IEC heads; as such no one can rule out a citizen uprising like observed during the famous Arab spring, which have a potential for loss of life, destruction of property, economic effects, and continued political instability. It is still worth exploring to end the continuous state terror orchestrated by Jammeh’s criminality, but citizens have to weigh that against the other options. It is without a doubt that the Gambia continually sits on a ticking time bomb, with higher chance of internal and/or external attack, leaving the country to a chance of another lurking dictatorship and or liberator. It is still a danger in Jammeh’s death from illness, as again any of his home groomed bandits will more than likely grab the front seat, leaving us to another whole refreshed headache. In fact, arguably the greatest danger caused by Jammeh' shaping of minds and hearts in such spiteful ways of terror, muzzle of the press, human rights violations, and the long list.
As a result of the above likelihoods, that is exactly why Gambians should go out and vote heavily against Jammeh, to give the one time smiling nation a rebirth on democracy and rule of law. If at all, Kandeh or Barrow wins, the struggle for continued engagement to shape a better future of democracy, rule of law, and liberty will continue, so as to not only close the 22 years of state terror, but to replace it with a celebrated democracy.