By Samsudeen Sarr
Twenty twenty-one should be a very interesting year all over the world. The mere fact that it is also supposed to start the post-coronavirus pandemic epoch, if normalcy is restored by January, makes it even more interesting to a distressed world. And because no theories from the world’s wisest and brightest academicians or religious gurus ever prepared us for this overwhelming phenomenon, I expect nobody to come out claiming to be the expert on what to expect. In that case, I believe this mysterious circumstance gives all of us the leverage to elbow our way into foretelling what to expect in 2021 and beyond; nobody can however be absolutely certain of any prognostication.
So bear with me folks with retrained emotions in my attempt to navigate the uncharted terrain of Gambia’s political destiny going into 2021, based on the circumstantial evidences at my disposal.
First and foremost, I am inclined to predict that President Adama Barrow will continue doing what he has been doing to ultimately fulfill his political ambition of ruling the Gambia for the next 15 years, said to have been prophesied by his special marabouts as the predestine duration of his occupation of the Banjul State House. It’s not me alone, most Gambians have heard of the prophesy. Moreover, irrespective of our sophistication, an inordinate number of Gambians still believe in the existence and credibility of these clairvoyants within the Senegambia zone who were once distinguished for predicting the governance of Ex-President Jammeh to last for 22 years. You all had heard about that in those days and was believed to have been proven factual.
President Barrow and his close affiliates will therefore, continue to rely on these soothsayers of which Gambians must brace up for a political challenge in 2021 the likes of which are unimaginable; it will, in a nutshell, mean facing a resilient incumbent whose goals are not rooted in anything scientific. Being so, I will further predict that anything he finds unfavorable to his dream, will simply compel him to do what he does best since being sworn into office in 2017; i. e., he will simply seek the permission or blessing of President Macky Sall of Senegal and do whatever he considers self-beneficial.
It was fascinating to read the 2016 coalition party political manifesto just before writing this paper that clearly illustrates how President Barrow has been flouting every accord ratified to reinforce the spirit and objectives of the participators.
Cardinal among them had been his incautiousness of being alienated by a large number of the coalition party supporters who voted him into power when he reneged on their three-year-term-limit covenant, on the pretext that the “proscribed” 1997 constitution under castigation and review for a “better one” mandated him to serve a full five-year term. That was symptomatic of what his voters must condone if any obstacle to the realization of his preordained “15 years” leadership become existentially threatened. By disrespecting the three years agreement, he did not only betray the framers and voters on the term limit but above all, he seized the incumbency advantage that everybody had feared would compromised the vital-leveled playing field and the avoidance self-perpetuating rule. The very undesirable bone of contentions they said would end the reemergence of the likes of Presidents Dawda Jawara and Yahya Jammeh.
And as if that was not enough violation of the coalition-party policy statements, he went on to discard all guidelines formulated by the “Selected Committee” entrusted with vetting and appointing members of the executive and judicial branches of the new government.
While butchering their program, the architects or warriors who were singing the “Gambia has Decided” and “Never Again” hymn remained impotent and mute on the mess they created, resorting to pointing fingers at each other and attempting to justify their fiasco by indirectly describing Adama Barrow as “Mickey Mouse”, “The Blindman”, “The Disabled” or even “The Dog” that they still insist is better to replace Yahya Jammeh.
Do you think at the time that the Selected Committee supposedly responsible of appointing government ministers, its members had remotely conceptualized the possibility of hiring the following Jammeh “loyalists” in the positions they held after “victory”? What chance of being shortlisted did these few among a lot stand? Mr. Alagie Ceesay, now President Barrow’s Chief Protocol officer was Chief Protocol officer to First Lady Madam Zineb Jammeh, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, now foreign minister was Jammeh’s ambassador to the UN, Sheikh Omar Faye, now defense minister was Jammeh’s ambassador in America, Colonel Momodou Badjie, now national security adviser was Jammeh’s ambassador to Turkey, General Masaneh Kinteh (CDS) now appointed ambassador to China was Jammeh’s ambassador in Cuba after serving as his CDS for years, Mambury Njie now Finance minister was being prosecuted by the Jammeh government for “committing economic crimes” after working for him for close to two decades. Would these fellows have passed the scrutiny test of that hawkish committee, angry and frustrated with anybody associated with Jammeh ? I doubt it. Other than parading delusional activists consoling themselves by celebrating the defeat of Jammeh, their struggle had simply epitomized the “monkey work baboon eat” maxim. Absolute failure! I seriously have my doubt over whether the real envisaged coalition government would have endorsed the military occupation of the Gambia by Senegalese forces called ECOMIG. Because what their presence in the Gambia has translated into, is shifting the perpetual blame from the Gambia Armed Forces of helping to keep Jammeh and the APRC in power, to ECOMIG/Senegalese forces now playing a similar role of helping to keep Barrow and his government in power. No difference to me whatsoever. They will shoot and kill anyone considered an enemy of the Barrow government like they did to helpless, armless and voiceless protesters like Haruna Jatta of Kanilai village expressing his fundamental human right.
Thanks to the quid pro quo deal of the century, the Barrow government is literally composed of top-ranking officials who were once Jammeh’s most trusted loyalists but surrendered the sovereignty of the country to Senegal on December 9, 2016 to retain their jobs. These lackeys, according to the GDC leader Mamma Kandeh are either clueless or merely pursuing their selfish interests.
But Barrow knows that no matter how ferocious the barking dogs circling peripheries look, biting is not part of their DNA and will not deter him from paving his way to durable power.
Regardless of the millions of dalasis wasted in the Kenyan “plagiarized” new constitution, coupled with certain clauses being at odds with his ambition, I find it safe to assert that President Barrow will not endorse the newly drafted constitution or forward it to the National Assembly for approval and subsequent referendum.
Only perhaps on one caveat; that he will first get rid of all articles unfavorable to his dreams.
His 15 years of governance tend to be best favored by the 1997 constitution, period.
He will certainly continue to rely on the support of Senegal and the elite Gambians approved by President Macky Sall and will also persist on tapping into the bottomless reservoir of political and intellectual mercenaries willing to espouse his political journey to 2031, no matter how perilous. It is going to be a long and hard journey but the crystal gazers have assured him that he will exhaust the “time-span”.
Upon settling for the old 1997 constitution that will provide him the desirable advantage to run for a simple majority rather than the absolute one, affirmed in the newly drafted one to determine a winner, I expect him to appoint a “favorable IEC with a dependable chairman”. Oh yes, the old constitution empowers him to appoint his choice of an IEC troupe. As usual, these folks can inadvertently transpose some election-result numbers in “Basse” or perhaps in “Foni” this time and announce him the winner. Senegalese forces or ECOMIG will mount their big guns on combat vehicles and as habitual, since their arrival in 2017 patrol the urban area to see who will disrupt the peace and security they are mandated to maintain in the new Gambia or to see who will try anything funny against Barrow, Senegal’s preferred Gambian democrat.
I think all objective Gambians are by now aware of the fact that Barrow is Senegal’s favorite candidate who will let them control the political narrative in the new Gambia. Lately, Senegalese immigrants in the diaspora have been using social media platforms to warn the Gambians in opposition to their military presence in the Gambia to start sinking it in their heads that President Macky Sall will never again tolerate a government in the Gambia “hostile” to Senegal’s interest like Jawara and Jammeh used to be. That their troops will continue to stay in the Gambia indefinitely to ensure that any new government either cooperates with them or faces the consequence. What that consequence means, is anybody’s guess.
The next big move by Senegal and France after Barrow is aided and abetted into winning the 2021 election will be their primary aim of a Senegambian economic union where the West African CFA franc will replace our dalasi currency in the same way President Abdou Joof helped France in 1997 to change Guinea Bissau’s peso to the CFA with the cooperation of the late president, Joao Bernardo Vieira . These West African Neo-colonial states are in an agreement with France to be transferring US$500 billion to France’s Central Bank “for safe keeping” and where they can only borrow from, if they needed financial assistance. It is like paying for being colonized and borrowing your own money with throat-cutting interest rates.
To get Nino Vieira into the nonsensical zone, they ultimately incited a bitter civil war in Bissau in 1998 between President Vieira and his most trusted Gambian-born general, Brigadier Ansumana Manneh that killed 655 people and displaced 350,000 Guinea Bissau residents. Both Manneh and Vieira were eventually consumed by the political debacle, a story I may soon write about. I was there with Dr. Sidat Jobe as Gambia’s Foreign Minister at the heat of that conflict in 1998. I led the Gambian Company along with Captain Peter Singhateh and Lt. Colonel Papoo Gomez who was the Company Sergeant Major at the time. I was then the Army Commander of the Gambia National Army and Colonel Baboucarr Jatta the CDS.