Editorial: Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh proves his critics right; He is a Psychopathic African Despot

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For almost two decades this medium and our sister papers in the Diaspora have sounded the alarm that Gambia’s accidental military ruler cum civilian President has some serious Psychopathic disorder. Many thought Jammeh’s critics were simply hateful of the Gambian leader and were therefore out in the free world to character assassinate him and give the Gambia nation a bad name. They argued that Gambians engage in fighting the regime are enemies of the state and branded many as unpatriotic and “jealous of the country’s development”. Others thought the Gambian Diaspora were just engage in political opposition because their idea of Western Democracy and freedom was not allowed by Jammeh. They failed to understand and see what many have seen as anything but normal politics Gambia found itself in under Yahya Jammeh.

When we look back to where Yahya Jammeh started in 1994 and go through the stages of political, social and economic transition in the Gambia from the time he took over the country July 1994 to December 2016, many may now have seen what some of us were more than certain that something was not normal. In the 21st century with the advent of social media, global integration and increasing Democratic pluralism in the West African region and around the world, any mentally sound leader would have recognized some of the major political changes and adopt to them accordingly. But Yahya Jammeh’s case was quite different as the more West Africa moves towards Democracy and governments become more transparent, the more Yahya Jammeh was getting more despotic and led Gambia into more isolation. His handling of issues time and again and how he reacts to simple leadership behaviors manifest that Jammeh was indeed a psychopath. Psychopath from the literal Dictionary meaning is when someone  “display different traits depending on their disorder, but common signs include superficial charm, a grandiose notion of self-worth, the need for stimulation and impulsiveness, pathological lying, the ability to manipulate others and a lack of remorse and empathy” Yahya Jammeh strongly manifest these traits on a daily basis and in almost every decision he makes. He couldn’t learn from his surroundings or experience leading with people and world leaders. He was getting angrier and more resentful of almost everything that was happening around him and in the country.

This paper warned on numerous occasions that Jammeh was in fact a threat to himself and to those who are closer to him. His leadership was certainly a threat to the long term economic, social and political stability of the Gambia and its people. The way he treated his own securities, his closest aides and the office of the President further shows that something more profound was wrong with Yahya Jammeh and his mental framework. His wasn’t only a trait of dictators who historically surrounds themselves with strong loyalists to keep them in power. Jammeh, instead got more hostile to his own people and created more enemies than one could rationalize. No person or leader in their sane mind should make so many terrible decisions that works against the very best interest and long term survival of themselves and their leadership. Yahya Jammeh did almost everything backwards and never once has he ever shown signs of human empathy or regret in any decisions he has ever made, at least not publicly. How can any Psychologist explain this kinds of behavior of a young leader? Jammeh notably is the only leader who has fired, arrested and jailed almost all of top ministers and high ranking government officials. For the record Jammeh jailed his Chiefs of Defense Staff, his Chief Justices, his Attorney Generals, Secretary Generals, Director of National Intelligence, Inspector Generals of Police, Solicitor Generals, personal bodyguards and top army commanders over and over again. And yet not once did Jammeh care about the well-being of these people and their families.

For the next two decades since he took over power, Yahya Jammeh acted more erratic and behaved more like an Alien to his people than a human being. He unleashed his most brutal forces on the Gambian people and became more hostile to anybody who doesn’t speak his language of despotism. He was out to rewrite the history of the Gambia on political, social and cultural heritage. He took a more dangerous path when he started mixing religious, tribal bigotry and culture of witch craft and idolism. He claimed to have found a cure for the world’s most deadly disease – HIV Aids and took hundreds of Gambians off their antiviral medications for his most degrading treatment with herbs and banana leaves. This was one of the first major signs of Jammeh’s mental deficiency proclaiming himself as a medical doctor with zero training whatsoever. The Gambian people and the world laughed this off and made jokes about him, but this was a serious milestone Jammeh has reached and he was become invincible.

This trend of Jammeh’s sycophancy continued unabated for 22 years and every time he does one thing Gambians and the world will brush it off and hope he was just acting and will change his mind. When he threatened to execute prisoners, 9 prisoners were executed cold blood within hours of his pronouncement. When he threatened to bury citizens six feet deep, scores of citizens disappeared without a trace. When he said he will kill citizens and no one will see them in million years, dead citizens’ corpses were never handed over to their love ones regardless of the circumstances. When he branded journalists as “unworthy sons of Africa” and threatened to eliminate them, a senior journalist was murdered in cold blood and another disappeared for good. The more Yahya Jammeh strengthened his grip on power the richer he became and more hostile he grew towards citizens of the Gambia.

As the Gambian Diaspora activists intensified their opposition to Jammeh’s brutal rule through media activism, citizen journalism and inside informers, the angrier Jammeh got and the more his brutal regime and gross human rights violations was exposed. His Diaspora opposition went from exposing his oppression to actual plots of dislodging his regime. December 30th, 2014 alleged coup came the closest to dislodging Yahya Jammeh and his regime in Banjul. What he used to refers to as Gambian unpatriotic exiles spreading false information now became a more serious threat to his regime. The lost of three brave citizens during that very sophisticated plot to overthrow him became an energizing force to the Gambian Diaspora. The online media and dissidents became much sharper in their pursuit of justice for Jammeh’s victims. This medium among many others continued its unwavering pursuit to fight to restore Democracy and freedom of speech in the Gambia. This effort was a blend of spreading information and educating Gambians of their political rights and abuses against innocent citizens.

The last and defining opportunity for Gambians to make historic changes in their political leadership came down to the December elections. The people have had enough and Yahya Jammeh has threatened openly to wipe out the largest ethnic group in Gambia and unilaterally declared the country an Islamic State which was a prelude to imposing Islamic Shariah law on the Gambian people regardless of their religious orientation. This was in direct contradiction to the constitutional definition of the Gambia as a secular state. Jammeh’s state of mental instability become more apparent as he increasingly got erratic by pulling Gambia out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) following his withdrawal of the country from the Commonwealth of nations. Jammeh attacked Gambia’s closest neighbor Senegal and its leadership unprovoked and threatened to also pull out of ECOWAS regional body. He was becoming more emboldened as he was poised to win a 5th term in office to continue to cement his quest for total control over the country.

Jammeh’s unexpected defeat at the December 1st, elections by the opposition; his initial concession, subsequent rejection and annulment of the election results in defiant of the whole world proves his critics right that he is indeed a psychopathic African dictator who has no place in modern political history. Even worse is Jammeh’s insistence that he will not hand over power to Adama Barrow and the opposition who clearly defeated him at the polls. Not a single sane person in Gambia and around the world can make sense of what future Yahya Jammeh wants for himself and the Gambia. After ruling for 22 years with unprecedented privileges and power, Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to respect the will of the Gambian people even as ECOWAS threatened to forcefully remove him from power only shows his mental incapacity to make rational decisions. Worse for Jammeh is the situation he created where no one around him including the Gambian military dare tell him his time was up and is time for him to go. Slowly but surely his powers are being stripped from all sides by institution after institution, loyalist after loyalist, organizations across the nation and abroad all distancing themselves from Jammeh’s desire to clinch on to power. This paper and many critics of Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years of dictatorship which was largely ignored by the International community is now a clear verdict that the Jammeh regime must be history come January 19th. When all is said and done and Jammeh government becomes history, this medium and several others would have been proven right that the call to oppose Yahya Jammeh and his despotic regime was hard but the right thing to do.

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