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Monday, September 21, 2020

Will former president Jammeh be missed?

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By Alagie Manneh After 22 years of political rule or misrule, Gambians have finally united and ousted President Jammeh and his government. The former Gambian dictator is reported to have been to Equatorial Guinea, paving way for President Adama Barrow to return to the country and steer the affairs of the Third Republic. But will the former Gambian ruler be missed or even remembered? “This man is not a coward,” one Gambian who broke down as the plane carrying the former dictator, his family, and some of his most trusted allies took off, amid mixed emotions at the airport. While a few others present there broke into tears and were sad to see his back, many other Gambians are glad to witness what they called the end of dictatorship and tyrannical misrule, the end of a man who led them with peace, yet with extreme fear, impunity, and disregard for the rule of law. Here is a man who after two decades, claimed he would rule The Gambia for a billion years. In many views, ex-President Jammeh never thought this day would come to pass, a day his presidency would come to a standstill. He always boasted that no election, coup, or foreign power could end his presidency. He was wrong. Gambians did unite and impeach him through free, fair and credible election. Clearly, the man was astonished by the outcome of the December polls. But also fearful of what might become of him, his family and trusted allies who aided him and solidified his grip on power. This was why he rejected the results in ‘totality’ the outcome of the election, after already conceding defeat and pledging to work with President Barrow and his team. The ex-president is also alledged to have committed serious crimes such as abuse of power, abuse of human rights, of public and state institutions, personalisation of state resources, killing of civilians, enforced disappearances amongst many other treacherous crimes. “All these things and so-called crimes they accused him of, is definitely unfounded,” an APRC loyalist said at the airport. “This man loves us and has transformed lots of lives positively. I am particularly sad to see the manner in which he left and how Gambians betray him, and called him all sorts of name after developing this country and providing decent living for all and always giving out lots of money to people.” The source of that money though, ex-president Jammeh doled out every now and then has also been questioned. Critics accused him of living a flamboyant and extravagant lifestyle, and said he has been squandering the country’s wealth since the beginning of his ‘corrupt misrule’ 22-years ago. “Absolutely extravagant and highly corrupted,” Ebrima Njie, 27, who said he flew five days ago from the UK to witness the former President’s departure, said. “He has personalised everything, not just our wealth but even our culture. Honestly man I have never seen a leader so brutal, yet as corrupt as Yahya Jammeh. He has robbed us time and time again. I am not sure if I can wish him well in exile.” Indeed, lots of other Gambians share Ebrima’s view, especially when Jammeh made the announcement on state TV that he is annulling and rejecting the December election results, thereby subverting the clear will of the people. “As much as I hate him, I felt compassion somewhere in my heart when he conceded defeat and congratulated President Barrow. I said ‘fine he can go to Kanilai and do whatever’. But now this? Bringing us this close on the brink of war. That man cannot fare well.” “May he perish in hell,” Gambian-born US soldier and former sports journalist Nanama Keita, wrote. “I am so happy that now Gambia can go back to the world,” Sirreh Gitteh of Yundum said. She is aware how Yahya Jammeh “shamed and isolated” the Gambia from the rest of the world. His eccentric style, she said, has led to numerous break-down in ties with other countries, most notably neighbouring Senegal. “His arrogant and undiplomatic style is nothing new to me, nor to Gambians. He even said Ban Ki Moon can go to hell. And has forced thousands of his own people flee the country; deceived us with claims that he could cure HIV and other diseases. Sometimes I think he is crazy or some sort of a lunatic. I am just so happy we oust dictator and his government. Honestly is like I am still dreaming of it,” she said. Indeed, it’s a dream come true for many Gambians, especially the victims of the regime who had been hoping for this historic and monumental day. The former leader was so, so feared in the country. No one dared to undermine his authoritarian misrule. And so Thomas Jefferson’s narrative proves just right when he said ‘when the government fear the people, you have liberty. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.’ It is with tyranny that Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambian people with. And all hopes of democratic change in the Gambia remain but a fleeting dream whenever he said in his eccentric style that no election, coup or foreign power can end his misrule. But somehow, the people defied all odds and united for change. For a better tomorrow. Enough is enough. The chains of dictatorship have been broken. Gambia can now stand proud among other democratic nations. Regrettably though, like every other dictator, Jammeh still has lots of admirers in the country. One of them is Yusupha Saho of Bakau. Though he pledges loyalty to the new government, Saho maintains that Jammeh, too, will always be his president and that people must not focus solely on his negatives. “We all make mistakes,” he said in defence of the ex-ruler. “But people cannot absolutely said President Jammeh did not do any good or that he did not bring any development to Gambians in his 22 years in power. He has done a lot. It is important people don’t forget that. I believe we will miss Yahya Jammeh and, of course we will remember him.” Indeed, after 22 years of what is widely seen as a tyrannical misrule, it is hard to say whether Gambians will miss ex-Presdient Jammeh, or if they will even remember him at all following his unceremonious and acrimonious departure from power. He could have simply stood and relinquish power after he first conceded defeat and preserve what is left, at the time of his dying and decaying legacy. He could have stood side by side with President Adama Barrow and ex-President Jawara when the country inaugurates its new president. He blew it all up. And well… those hopes are now the opposite of reality and they remain but a fleeting dream, never to be pursued. As we prepare to unveil the new Gambia which holds promises of togetherness, progress, freedom, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law, only time can tell if Gambians will even think about Jammeh’s name, talk less of his 22-year dictatorship reign.]]>

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