His official title, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa, is depressing for the tongue and palate to spin.
In 1994, he staged a bloodless coup which ousted Sir Dauda Jawara out of office. He was then a 29 year old colonel in The Gambian army. Under his 22 year rule, the BBC suggests that The Gambia enjoyed relative stability compared to other African countries. This is a positive legacy to Jammeh’s credit. Apart from that, much of his legacy is in the negative. One of his bootlicking National Assembly members, chronicles a tale of what he describes as positive achievements of Jammeh. I do not find his recount worthy of further consideration because it definitely is biased. Much of Jammeh’s legacy is bad news.
A positive and perhaps the most important legacy Jammeh has left for The Gambia and Africa at large which has not made much headlines is his quiet, peaceful and bloodless departure from the presidency and The Gambia. I doff my hat to Jammeh for this. My reason is simple. Jammeh could have insisted he would not leave office and what happened in Libya or Ivory Coast would have recurred. Despite the fact that there was a looming military intervention by some ECOWAS member states, sight must not be lost that he still controlled The Gambian army and the military continued to commit their loyalty to him. A forceful intervention would certainly have been bloody even though I openly supported that.
But before he left, it is reported that he made away with eleven million United States dollars from the national treasury. Unfortunately, we have a joint ECOWAS-AU-UN statement guaranteeing excessive immunities for Jammeh. The statement in part said:
“4.In furtherance of this, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it assures and ensures the dignity, respect, security and rights of HE former President Jammeh, as a citizen, a party leader and a former Head of State as provided for and guaranteed by the 1997 Gambian Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.
5.Further, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it fully guarantees, assures and ensures the dignity, security, safety and rights of former President Jammeh’s immediate family, cabinet members, government officials, Security Officials and party supporters and loyalists.
6.ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that no legislative measures are taken by it that would be inconsistent with the previous two paragraphs.
7.ECOWAS, the AU and the UN urge the Government of The Gambia to take all necessary measures to assure and ensure that there is no intimidation, harassment of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia.
8.ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully belonging to former President Jammeh or his family and those of his Cabinet members, government officials and Party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.”
To not pursue Jammeh and retrieve all of the loot he has taken away from The Gambia’s national treasury and prosecute him for all of the crimes he has committed against humanity in The Gambia, including for the 44 Ghanaians he murdered in 2005, is to show weakness. It also sends a very feeble signal to those African dictators still in power, assuring them of similar immunities if they misbehave.
What is refreshing to me is that the joint statement is just a political document. Pundits say it has no legal binding whatsoever and I will expect President Adama Barrow to proceed and set up the truth and reconciliation commission he earlier pledged.
In a next post, I will explore the fate of The Gambia under President Adama Barrow.