The Gambian leader: the mystic figure or the devil?

By Alpha Bedoh Kamara

His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh Babili Mansa is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chief Custodian of the Sacred Constitution of The Gambia.

Popularly regarded as President Yahya Jammeh, the Gambian leader has become a mystic figure for his supporters and a devil to others who viewed his governance as dictatorial and a violator of human rights.Jammeh

 On 22 July 1994, a group of young officers in the Gambian National Army seized power from President Sir Dawda Jawara in a military coup by taking control of key facilities in the capital city, Banjul.

The coup took place without bloodshed and met with very little resistance. The group identified itself as the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), with the 29-year-old Jammeh as its chairman.

Since then his governance continue to make headlines in international media while his opponents cry for international support to free them from his grasp, but he moves on, instituting policies to build the little West African country to his own liking.

In 2015, President Jammeh was written a letter by Mohammed Zeine, a Christian resident, who thanked him for his generosity to Gambian Christians.

“…..Indeed it is a great pleasure and joyous for me to write to you once again. Bravo and thanks a million for the benevolent fund you give to the Christian people in purpose of their Christmas feast…”jj

Few months ago, there was growing fear in The Gambia over the arrest of the former steward of President Jammeh and also the State House staff chief cook over allegation of food poisoning.

Reports in The Gambia alleged the Gambian president, who in 2007 claimed to have found a herbal cure for Aids. blaming his close aides for poisoning him.

The former steward, Modou Jatta, and the State House staff chief cook, Sheikh Tijan Sanyang, are reported to being in detention.

The arrests of the two men, according to reports, are based on allegations by spiritual witchcraft doctors. “Unless President Jammeh changes his plans many people will be arrested and killed in Foni this weekend,” said a resident in the country.

The arrest has come just after the Gambian president ordered female public workers to cover their hair and sources said a team is monitoring all the female police officers to see if they are abiding to the executive order.

“Jammeh wants this special surveillance team to listen to who is disgruntle, to see if female officers are using veils and also no skin bleaching,” the source said, adding “Gambian women are about to lose their rights, very soon Gambians will lose their cultural, natural and God given rights”.

The Gambia has been declared an Islamic republic by President Yahya Jammeh who said he wanted to further distance the West African state from its colonial past.

The tiny, formerly secular country, named after the river from which British ships are said to have fired cannonballs to fix its borders – joins the ranks of other officially Islamic republics such as Iran and Afghanistan.

“In line with the country’s religious identity and values I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state,” said Jammeh on state television. “As Muslims are the majority in the country, Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy.”

The Gambia has a population of 1.8 million people with 95% Muslim.

The International Business Times (http://www.ibtimes.com/) –  report in 2015, “…Jammeh’s homophobic views have also drawn international censure before, and both Europe and the U.S. cut off their aid to the West African nation, citing its atrocious human rights record, after it introduced a law in October outlawing homosexuality. Three men were arrested under the law last December after a security operation.

The law classified gay actions as criminalized acts of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life in prison. The new law strengthened Gambia’s existing ban on homosexuality, which previously carried a sentence of up to 14 years in jail”.

Jammeh, an animated orator who has earned the reputation for making surprise declarations over the course of his 21-year presidency, pulled the Gambia out of the Commonwealth in 2013, calling it neo-colonial.

At the 50th Anniversary of The Gambia President Jammeh said in an interview aired on GRTS on Friday 2Oth February, 2O15:  “There is nothing good in any activity that leads some to surrender their freedom to others, there is nothing good in that.

Well, in the case of The Gambia, it is even very evil and very bad, nothing good has come from colonialism because one, it led to population loss, loss of earnings, starvation to death because of slavery, lack of freedom and the fact that we have to be dictated by a foreign culture that is alien to us. So there was nothing good in colonialism. And it can never be good anywhere. Colonialism was inhuman because they never came to develop, they came to exploit us”.

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Categories: Human interest, Opinion

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