A very goodbye Yahya Jammeh -but – Exile not the answer though!

23 Jan

Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh finally bade farewell grudgingly to the Gambia, ill acquired fame and ludicrous power on 21 January 2017 after 23 years in power at the helm of The Gambia. After his defeat by Adama Barrow in the 1 December 2016 elections and then “changing his mind” after announcing his defeat, ECOWAS, the African Union and the UN prevailed on him to vacate the Presidential seat. The man has since left for Equatorial Guinea to be under the protection of another African henchman, Obiang Mbasugo Nguema reportedly after having looted USD$11mln and several other unnamed valuables. Gambians are more than excited, Africa is relieved and the whole world is happy that this political transition has been bloodless. However, i am of the view that while sending Yahya Jammeh into exile will work in the short term it is detrimental in the long term.

Yahya Jammeh by being allowed into exile and even reading out his stepping down letter began a misdirected journey of him to manipulate the narrative about what exactly led to his defeat and being deposed from power. Clearly it was important for him to address the nation and whole world acceding defeat. However, the narrative that he made a decision on his own volition to vacate the Presidency and other such narratives should not be tolerated any further. He lost an election and he should have gone away quietly. Adama Barrow’s new government will need to quickly address this state of affairs and ensure that the true story is told to all and sundry at home and abroad.

The second issue concerns Yahya Jammeh’s potential to disrupt the politics and peace in the Gambia. While ECOWAS, the AU and the UN have promised to ensure the Gambia’s security, it is important that Yahya Jammeh is watched while he is on exile. The man led the country through force and brutality for a long time and it cannot be denied that some of his security forces might inevitably be still loyal to him. The potential to cause security problems engineered by Yahya Jammeh while in exile through his proxies must not be ruled out and thus the man needs to be watched as he comfortably sits reportedly in temporary exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Keeping Yahya Jammeh in the Gambia would have ensured that he would not be able to determine the future narrative of the Gambia’s politics through pronunciations such as the one he made just before he left.

Keeping Yahya Jammeh in the Gambia would have ensured that he would be allowed to witness change, democracy and a new form of government as an ordinary citizen without having to watch from outside the country.

Keeping Yahya Jammeh in the Gambia and not leave the country on his own terms would have ensured that he would not plunder and raid the bank as he did just before he left as reported.

Keeping Yahya Jammeh in the country would have ensured that he would have been held to account for any crimes and human rights abuses during his reign.

While it is a welcome relief that the henchman is gone, it is also very unfortunate that by sending Yahya Jammeh into exile, a precedent has been set for many an African dictators. It cannot be that whenever African Presidents are defeated in elections, they have to determine whether they have lost or not and usually in the end just refuse to leave the offices.

It will be interesting to see how the international community as well as the new government will handle issues around past human rights violations and economic plundering. The proposal to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission by Adama Barrow is most welcome. The continued talks and analysis that the political agreement signed for Yahya Jammeh to leave the country was only political and not binding on the Gambia is also a good sign.

Yahya Jammeh will need to be brought back to the Gambia to face the judicial system and account for human rights violations and economic plundering charges. While peace needs to be maintained and guaranteed in the Gambia, justice cannot be placed on the political alter in favor of Yahya Jammeh. By holding him to account, a deterrent message will be sent out to any other African President who might want to use the same shenanigans choosing to “change their minds” when defeated in elections.

One Response to “A very goodbye Yahya Jammeh -but – Exile not the answer though!”


  1. A very goodbye Yahya Jammeh – but – Exile not the answer though! | Tendai Chabvuta - January 23, 2017

    […] Source: A very goodbye Yahya Jammeh -but – Exile not the answer though! […]


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