One of West Africa’s controversial presidents in the 21st centuries, president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, is again in another tug-of-war with West African counterparts over his refusal to hand over power after his defeat following December’s election.
By Alpha Bedoh kamara
It could be noted that after taking over a country threatened by poverty and poor infrastructural facilities his radical reforms changes the country’s economic phases, enabling more opportunities for Gambians living in the country. However, amidst these developments are reports of human rights abuse and violations perpetrated by his governments.
A president whose ideology and radical approach to national issues, especially the infamous HIV/AIDS pronouncement of having the power to cure patients, may again looking for a way to add the present political issue to his legacy.
It is like the president of the Gambia is testing the resilience of West Africa’s democracy which future is still unstable considering the level of transparency and accountability in the African governance system and the ever widening gap between those in governance and the governed.
President Jammeh has said he will not step down before a Supreme Court decision on disputed elections, a ruling now not expected until May (BBC News).
Regional mediators, led by Nigeria’s president, are expected in The Gambia on Friday to urge him to accept defeat following December’s election.
The action by President Jammeh has put many people in the sub region on the edge considering that the region just emerged from the wrath of Ebola which negatively impacted on the three most affected countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea; and therefore, will in no way expect president Jammeh to cross this line.
The elections in The Gambia could break or strengthen democracy in West Africa and the world is watching to see what regional stakeholders will do to engage president Jammeh to respect the democratic ethos of the People Republic of The Gambia.
Therefore failure by regional stakeholders to convince him to hand over power to the president-elect and is made to succeed in his stance to rule, will be a tap on the shoulders of regional leaders wanting to do same to hold on to power. This could be detrimental to governance and the rule of law and thus the risk of political instability in the region.
Because West Africa has over the years sustained democratic elections despite the many challenges more people in the region now have better opportunities, especially women and girls, whose rights and roles in society are by laws and international policies protected and respected, unlike in those days when their voices were hardly heard in governance.
But it’s like president Jammeh wants West Africa to take the old path that stigmatized Africa’s history – where few people indefinitely hold on to power and determine the fate of the lot – while West Africa’s largest democracy, Nigeria, and others look on in shock.
But the people of The Gambia should know that they are not alone. The people should believe that regional stakeholders will do everything possible for a peaceful transfer of power and that their democratic mandate will hold.
And while we are hopeful, West Africa looks forward to the regional stakeholders to work in the best interest of the Gambian people and will ensure that peace and economic stability reigns in The Gambia.