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Monday, September 20, 2021

Promise of the Gambia and the tragedy of Adama Barrow

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By Mathew K Jallow

Yahya Jammeh wasn’t removed from power in December 2016.

That undervalues the blood, sweat and tears Gambians spilt over 22 long years.

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Yahya Jammeh’s removal from power started on July 22, 1994. In the end, it wasn’t the December 2016 elections. It wasn’t the political establishment at home.

And it wasn’t civil society at home and abroad. It was all the above. But the elections of 2016 were the final catalysts in ending this long Gambian nightmare.

And today, exactly two and half years later, Gambia is again tethering on the edge, as the promise of democracy, in 2016, and before, again turns into calls to entrench the transitional government.

Rumors have circulated, for months, that the slow pace of the Constitutional Review Commission, which involves absolutely unnecessary overseas travels, is a ruse to give Adama Barrow 15 years in power.

The gravity of these allegations cannot be overestimated and Adama Barrow who was elected by political party delegates, was selected for a transitional period, to allow Gambia to return to multiparty elections and democratic rule.

There is nothing in the MoU agreement that allows turning the Coalition into a political party.

But none of this should surprise Gambians, as the country doubles down on Yahya Jammeh’s dirty style of leadership.

Since early 2017, this wasn’t unexpected, as the same elements that helped keep Yahya Jammeh in power for 22 tragic years, were again hired to guide the Adama Barrow’s hunger for political power. And just like Yahya Jammeh before him, Adama Barrow too is buying the support, loyalty and indifference of corrupt and unprincipled followers.

The blame for what’s going on right now rests on Coalition leaders sacrificing their own parties and giving wide latitude to Adama Barrow to buy and coerce his way to additional powers that don’t belong to the executive.

Today, Gambia is again as divided as it has ever been, under Yahya Jammeh; perhaps even more. Increasingly, Adama Barrow is desensitized by lust for power, to the political and social ramifications of cheating his way, in broad daylight, to extend his stay in power.

And last week, in defiance of common sense and ethics in government, Omar Jallow (OJ), joined the fray by asking Gambians to extend Adama Barrow’s tenure, even though he was elected only on a transition basis.

Granted that electing the Coalition leader was poorly managed, the MoU was poorly drafted, and the transition was poorly handled, the one thing that should remain constant is that the Coalition is transitional.

And based on the agreement, Adama Barrow should honor the MoU, call for elections now, resign in December, and hand over power in 2020.

But the tragedy of it all is that this is unlikely to happen, as among other things, OJ seems to be acting out of malice and or vengeance in sanctioning Adama Barrow’s stealthy power grab, rather than oppose it.

Gambians were warned since early 2018 of the readiness to use force to stay in power, and to buttress this, Adama Barrow’s regime purchased water tanks to suppress dissent, and his acolytes are allowed to purchase weapons, in the event of a nationwide opposition to his rule.

The sum total of everything happening around the center of power in Gambia is that nothing changed administratively, the future looks bleak, and democracy is in a coma.

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