Editorial: Gambians Deserve Peaceful Transfer of power without full Military Invasion

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The people of this tiny West African Nation of the Gambia deserves a peaceful transfer of power to the President-Elect Adama Barrow to lead the nation in the third Republic. This nation of roughly about 1.8 million people has the most peaceful people Africa has ever seen. For 22 years the Gambian people endured one of the most brutal repressions from their own government while the international community largely looked the other way. Except for few rights groups the International community recognized the country’s dictator as the rightful leader of the nation regardless of his gross human rights violations and brutal repression on the citizens. Gambians cried for all kinds of International help to no avail.

On December 1st, 2016 the repressed Gambian people peacefully went to the polls to exercise their Democratic rights despite massive repression, threats and state sanctioned kidnappings and illegal detentions. The International community boycotted the elections and Gambians were left to fend for themselves. The much battered opposition with almost zero resources painfully put aside their differences and came together to challenge the incumbent. Despite repeated threats and provocation from the ruling party and security forces for confrontation, the opposition remained tempered and controlled their massive crowds to avoid confrontation. The people came out and voted massively for the opposition. Citizens remained calmed and went home after casting their votes to heed to the advice of their leaders. The results were announced by an appointed and government controlled Electoral Commission which was all but Independent historically.

The leader of the opposition coalition Adama Barrow was declared as the winner defeating an incumbent who was in total control of state security apparatus and government machinery. Defeating a dictator through the ballot box is something unheard of in the history of world. Gambians did not only do it but they did it in the most peaceful manner Africa has never witnessed. Historically, removing a dictator from power means massive unrest and civil war and or political chaos. The Gambians will not have none of that as they went about their business believing in the power of the people and the exercise of peace and tranquility.

Mr. Jammeh’s acceptance of the results was hailed across the world as a heroic example of a nation peacefully conducting elections without bloodshed or political unrest. This was going to go down in history as the best case study that comes from the world’s most unusual places – Africa mostly known for its political unrest, war and refugees. Africa was once again to replicate the peaceful transfer of power from a repressive regime as in South African to a peaceful government. This was a pride that every Gambian and decent African would be proud of in history.

Fast forward December 9th, when Yahya Jammeh abruptly made a U-turn rejecting the election results and annulling the votes demanding a new vote shocked Gambians and the world but did not surprise many. This was what people around the world had expected to be the outcome in an African election under a Dictatorship. Yahya Jammeh had lived up to his expectations and is adamant that he will not give up power as he initially insinuated. ECOWAS and the International communities reaction to his latest pronouncement was swift and the message appears to be unambiguous that Jammeh has to transfer power peacefully. Despite all peaceful negotiations and appeals from within and outside the Gambia, Jammeh is set on staying in power to his last breath.

Jammeh’s refusal to peacefully transfer power has put the country on a path to political unrest. The ECOWAS threat to forcefully remove Jammeh and ensure that President-Elect Adama Barrow is sworn in on January 19th has further jeopardized the peaceful elections the Gambian have just concluded. Many Gambians are baffled that our peaceful country with all that we have endure under the dictatorship is about to get worse. Many Gambians who are conscious of the cost of military intervention are wary of full military invasion to remove Yahya Jammeh from power. It appears that all negotiations are leading to a confrontational end as Jammeh try to strengthen his grip on the security forces. The leaders of the Gambian military appears to pledge their loyalty to the outgoing President than the constitutional provisions of the nation which guarantees elections and peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another. This has put the nation head on for military invasion and possible bloodshed in a most peaceful nation Africa ever have.

This paper is with the conviction the cost of military invention is too great for the Gambian nation to endure. The Gambian people have exercised maximum restrain to maintain the peace from the campaign time through the elections. Gambia does not deserve military intervention and it would be a shame for such a peaceful nation to be thrown into political unrest after demonstrating the most peaceful elections Africa has ever witnessed. This paper is resolved on the fact that Yahya Jammeh must hand over power to President-Elect Adama Barrow and the coalition team. If all mediation fails to persuade Jammeh to hand over power, then extreme intelligent measures must be employed by the International and local leadership to ensure that Jammeh is removed from power.

Jammeh must be surgically removed without losing a single innocent Gambian life. We don’t deserve a single citizen to die defending Yahya Jammeh to remain in power. We therefore call for strategic operations or whatever means that needs to be done to ensure that this stand off ends peacefully. It must be noted that Gambia is a small country and has no strategic positions for Yahya Jammeh to hide against International intelligence to surgically remove him. Jammeh can only hide in Banjul which in itself an island that has no outlet except through the Atlantic ocean. Jammeh can therefore be smoked out of Gambia without disrupting the peace and security in this tiny nation. We therefore caution against a full military invasion rather than a strategic operation to preserve the peace and infrastructure of tiny Gambia.

We call for peaceful resolution to the conflict and hope that Jammeh still has the humanity in him to ensure that he doesn’t plunge Gambia into an ungovernable nation. For the Gambia our Home land in peace and prosperity.

 

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