By Samsudeen Sarr
It is becoming quite evident that some of my lousy critics are still entertaining their intersubjective misjudgment that the role I played in the 2016 political impasse in The Gambia precipitated the illegal military intervention and occupation of our nation by ECOMIG/Senegalese Armed Forces. This intersubjective misconception still existing in the collective imagination of certain low-IQ-elements perpetually overshadows their objective faculties to recognize how I was at the time sternly dissuading the warmongers from unnecessarily invading The Gambia. Virtually, all of these folks were indeed gravitating for the war orchestrated by French president François Hollande (killed Gaddafi and destroyed Libya) in which Senegalese president Macky Sall was sponsored and instructed to unleash a war of terror against The Gambia government and its security forces.
However, to expatiate on the subject I will first refer any interested reader to an interview still accessible in the video archives of the Voice of America (VOA), conducted on January 18, 2017, few days before the commencement of the reckless annexation.
Moderated by the luminary-Ugandan-born-former-child-soldier host, Doctor Shaka Ssali, in his Straight Talk Africa program, subtitled Political Crisis in the Gambia, the APRC-Judas-ambassador-to America, now the minister of defense to President Adama Barrow’s government, Sheikh Omar Faye and I discussed the implications of the impasse as guest speakers; in the interview, I vehemently opposed the illegal invasion of The Gambia based on my fear of starting the French-desired-military conflict in the country, reminiscent of the 1997 civil war they incited in Guinea Bissau between Brigadier General Ansumane Manéand his best friend for decades, president Joao Bernardo Vieira, emphasizing how it could thrust the nation and the entire subregion into another variation of a Libyan or Iraqi quandary, for its potential-unintended consequences. I even had to recapitulate the new UN Secretary General’s special warning in his inaugural statement in 2016 when he, Antonio Guterres, advised all member states against starting wars which are no longer winnable but instead often degenerate into protracted conflicts beyond their expected number of casualties, size of destructions and length of durations.
But like I said, almost all dissidents at the time against the APRC government wanted nothing other than to see the attack launched by the barbarians to kill or capture Jammeh by any means applicable.
Please readers, just take a moment and watch the tape for better understanding of my consistency in that position, although I expect no changes in the minds of the dogmatic adherents even if they were to watch it a million times.
But for more insight, let me take you back to the general election night of December 1, 2016 at the State House. I was there in attendance with several dignitaries at the president’s mainconference hall where the results were monitored live, compiled from all polling stations in the country and computed to the last vote cast.
I did discuss this important event in many of my writings and conversed about it during the last interview I had with Captain Ebou Jallow on Saturday, May 23, 2020 in his online SUN XALAT talkshow presentation.
The program allowed me to set forth the names and job designations of most of the attendees I could remember that evening:
1. Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy
2. Works Minister Bala Jahumpa
3. Justice Minister Mama Singhateh
4. Tourism Minister Roberts
5. Agric Minister Ismail Sanyang
6. Information Minister Sheriff Bojang
7. Education Minister Fatou Lamin Faye
8. Interior Minister GeneralMA Bah
9. APRC Speaker of the house Hon. Bojang
10. Fatou Kineh Jobe-Permanent Secretary, president’s office.
11. Ambassador Mass Axi Gai-APRC Representative to the AU
12. Ambassador/Colonel Momodou Badjie-APRC ambassador to Turkey, now national security adviser to the Barrow government.
As a matter of fact, it was Ambassador Momodou Badjie who extended the invitation to me to join them and took the trouble of picking me up at my house in what he had said had always been the tradition on election-results-announcement nights.
Host President Jammeh occupied the high seat facing everybody in an elaborate rectangular wooden table while other members of his cabinet including the Vice President sat around it; the rest of us filled up the soft seats on the outer space of the hall.
There was also an overhead flat-screen TV where the IEC chairman sporadically appeared to read the results sent from the polling stations. However, the APRC election agents placed at the polling stations kept us updated with the confirmed results far ahead of the IEC announcements.
By 2:00 am, it was crystal clear to everyone present that the APRC government had lost to the Coalition Party by about 18,000 votes.
Being my first experience but in a situation of total shock and surprise to everybody, I could sense how nobody had an immediate answer to the novel bombshell. Yes, it was like a train-wreck.
Certainly disappointed in my expectation that President Jammeh was going to open the floor for discussion or to elicit our opinion over the inconceivable situation, he unequivocally addressed us to understand that he had lost the election to Adama Barrow and will call him tomorrow to concede defeat and start working on his handing over obligations. Adding that the election was freely and fairly conducted in a rig-proof system that simply epitomized the aspiration of the Gambian electorate to have a new president and government.
I can still remember the Speaker of the House Hon. Bojang being the first to leave the hall and the State House.
Lady Zineb Jammeh came out briefly to bid us farewell in a rather sorrowful but congenial mood before we all dispersed. While being driven back to my house by Ambassador Momodou Badjie, joined by Ambassador Mass Axi Gai, our discussion centered around what had possibly gone wrong for the APRC to lose, attributed to several factors but intuitively to Jammeh’s enfeebled enthusiasm to win this time. That he may have even intended to retire, considering how his campaign zeal and material investment were throughout far below average.
That was the last time I physically saw or heard from President Jammeh. Nevertheless, I left the State House vowing to stand by him on whatever he had decided to do, as his deputy ambassador at the UN.
The next day December 2, 2016, like everybody, I watched the drama unfolded on TV where he did exactly what he had sworn to do earlier. He called elected President Adama Barrow, conceded defeat, congratulated him and shared some words of wisdom about national security matters. He had wanted to settle at his home village of Kanilai and spend the rest of his life on his greatest hobby, farming.
Then on December 5, 2016, the IEC shadily threw the whole orderly process into a dangerous disarray by coming up with new set of results. Shady in the sense that, what should have been announced publicly for the whole world to hear, was discreetly done at their office headquarters within the restricted knowledge of the representatives of the contesting three parties. They had detected errors in their initial computation of the results and had been corrected but with the APRC still losing. What else could they have said differently and lived happily ever after? In December 2014 Gambian dissidents living abroad, for lacking confidence and trust in the IEC to conduct free and fair elections, sponsored an ill-fated armed attack in the country to overthrow the APRC government. Then in April 2016, Gambian dissidents again living abroad for the same reasons sponsored and incited a doomed demonstration in the country aimed at toppling the government. And a month before the election, word was everywhere that Jammeh had paid theIEC $400,000 to rig the election in his favor. Not forgetting the ritual killings of school children by his government to win. Now, how reasonable, under such circumstances, would the IEC have appeared to the world if the chairman had on December 5, 2016 announced that the APRC had won after the correction of their errors, instead of the Coalition?
Obviously, that was possible taking into account the combined votes won by the APRC (208,487) and the GDC (89,768) totaling (298,255) indicating that, with all the noise, the Coalition’s winning numbers (227,708) actually illustrated a victory from less than the majority of votes cast. So the slogan, subjectively touted as the “Gambia Has Decided” should have objectively been “Forty-three per cent of Gambians have Decided”.
Without doubt if the GDC had refused to endorse the results on the same disagreement as the APRC, that an election with two conflicting results had never happened anywhere in the world and could no longer be considered credible or rig-proof, the Coalition would have had no choice but to work out something reasonable and civil with them. But Hon. Kandeh was not interested in pursuing that and had perhaps thought that he could eventually work with the Coalition government until the realities later dawned on him that this was not the kind of government he had expected to work with.
I think Jammeh could have struck himself and his government a better deal by compelling the IEC to go back to the national TV and announce to the whole world the mess they had created. Or when he had decided to annul the election results on December 9, 2016, to feature the two suspicious results pivotal in his argument. But it wasn’t like that, a gross mistake exploited by France and Senegal with the critical support of the APRC ambassadors (Judases) that ultimately brought about the UN resolution that forced him into stepping down. They further misled the UN Security Council altogether with the devious story that President Jammeh had first conceded defeat but had suddenly changed his mind for no reason whatsoever.
To bolster their rationalization, the Senegalese described the Gambia Armed Forces to the UN Security Council as a force predominantly composed of MFDC and Liberian rebels destabilizing Casamance and were now terrorizing the whole Gambia by assisting Jammeh to kidnap and murder school children for ritual sacrifices. Yet, with all those deceptions, the Security Council strictly prohibited using force in the absence of any corroborated violence in the country and should only be used if necessary, but under a new resolution requiring their endorsement.
But France and Macky Sall wanted war and had to swiftly mobilize the troops and logistics to start one.
In my VOA interview with Minister Sheikh Omar Faye, one will also see how he avoided talking about the second set of results or even how it impacted the smooth process of the whole election.
With the above experience and all the witnesses mentioned, hearing the IEC chairman saying that on the election night of December 1, 2016, Jammeh called from the State House and tried to force him into changing the results in his favor was not only incorrect but very ungodly. Nothing like that ever happened in our presence.
I had visited the Kenyan, Egyptian, Liberian, Russian, Burundian, Ugandan and even French embassies at the UN, but none of them heard about the December 5, 2016 second election results either.
That was why at some point I started to strongly believe that the French leader subtly instructed Macky Sall to convince the IEC into coming up with the second set of results, knowing full well that Jammeh will challenge it and provide them with the justification for military intervention.
In the end when it became clear that a peaceful solution to the problem was no longer feasible and war was imminent, I called the GAF Headquarters in Banjul from my office and spoke to then Deputy CDS Gen Yankuba Drammeh, the Operation Commander Gen. Momodou Sowe and the Interior Minister, Gen. M. A. Bah suggesting the need to disperse all their soldiers from the barracks and streets just to avoid any form of armed resistance to the invaders. That the warmongers were ordered to kill as many Gambians as necessary including Jammeh and any loyal member of his government.
We agreed on preventing the bloodbath they were looking for.
There was no war but more combatants are still being sent by Macky Sall, paid for by France in what I think is aimed at starting one to achieve their annexation objective.
And trust me, there are many Gambians in the Barrow government not limited to the known Judases, ready to surrender the sovereignty of the country to France and Senegal as long as they are assured top jobs. There are also Gambians outside the government subscribing to the same Senegalese-and-French-takeover.
These Judases will always claim to be the majority, but to avoid the looming conflict, why not put the final determinant to a referendum on whether Gambians want the merger or not? I think it is even more important than the referendum to approve or disapprove the new constitution. I can’t see the indefinite and illegal occupation of our country ending anytime soon while President Barrow is in power and Macky Sall playing tricks around him. Senegal will most likely help him to win the next election in a setting where he will appoint his own IEC, exploit the incumbency advantage and create the winning conditions. Spare Sam Sarr the blame tomorrow for that eventuality.