By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
The fate of millions of people in The Gambia is being played with by one single individual who still continue to hold on to the assumption that he has ownership of the power to rule over the people of this small West African country.
…The country has a population of 2 million, with a fairly high average rate of growth of 2.8% per year over the last decade. With 177 people per square kilometer, The Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Most of the population (57%) is concentrated around urban and peri-urban centers (The World Bank).
And though we are hopeful and expect the AU to address this issue as quickly as possible, The Gambia is in political dilemma! And according to BBC, ‘The Gambia’s parliament has extended President Yahya Jammeh’s term, which is due to end on Thursday following his defeat in elections, by 90 days’, thus providing himself the opportunity to deny the mandate of the people with impunity.
Despite efforts by regional bodies to talk him to listen to the mandate of the people, The US State Department urging him to peacefully transfer power to Mr. Barrow, and diplomatic advice from other international stakeholders, Mr. Jammeh seems unmoved.
Now the small West African country is on edge, amidst a growing number of tourists fleeing the country with at least 26,000 Gambians, mostly women and children, reported to have crossed into Senegal by Monday evening.
Mr. Jammeh’s action to continue to hold on to power is a bad chapter in West Africa’s new book for tolerance, transparency and accountability and when the African Union, the United Nations and other international stakeholders helping Africa to successfully tap into her human and natural resources believe now is the time for Africa to score her economic goal.
Perhaps Mr. Jammeh still believes Africa is in the 60s, a chapter of the continent’s history when leaders in West Africa bulldozed the people and introduced draconian laws to muzzle the press and critics challenging their positions.
Ironically, though engagements with neighbouring leaders might have provided him a great deal of information of the challenges he will face if he continues to act tough, as reported by BBC …’In a televised announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Jammeh said “any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace” were banned under the state of emergency.’
Mr. Jammeh must realize that his action will disturb the socio-economic development of this beautiful country and derail his positive efforts over the years, and therefore the importance of the African Union (AU) to ensure a peaceful resolution as well as protecting and upholding democratic principles and transfer of power to the president-elect.