What Will Happen After The Fall of President Jammeh?

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By Papa Loum
JamWhat Will Happen After The Fall of President Yahya Jammeh? Much has been said about the anticipated demise and removal of President Sheik Professor Yahya Jammeh from power. There is a great deal of speculation about the manner in which he will be removed from power and at what time this fateful day will eventually happen. Some believe that it will come about by some form of a palace coup d’état, others wishfully hope that the Senegalese government of President Macky Sal will intervene and end the agony of Gambians and yet others hope and pray fervently that through divine intervention, he will suffer from some massive cardiac arrest and or similar ailment and never recover from it. The consensus however is that given the political climate of fear, intimidation and harassment, this man will not be defeated in a general election and moreover, the current political parties do not simply have what it takes to remove Jammeh from power in a general election. What is obvious however is that given the laws of nature, Jammeh cannot and will not rule forever and despite the fact that Njogu Bah has recently publicly prayed for him to rule for 949 years, we all know that this is not humanely possible. Anyway for the sake of argument, wishful thinking and or hope, let us say that Jammeh is removed or leaves power sooner than we expect- what then is the likely scenario of what is to happen in the country? Obviously what will happen will depend on the manner in which Jammeh leaves power.

No doubt there will be celebrations and euphoria from many quarters the days following his removal but we should be very mindful of harboring utopian dreams that Jammeh’s demise will automatically usher in a land of milk and honey. Removal of Jammeh by a military junta will itself carry its own predictable tribulations and many problems will inevitably follow such a move – for example, will the junta hand over power to a civilian body and if so how soon? Is the junta (like in most cases) going to provide Gambians with the usual timetable of holding elections within the usual 2-4 year time frame only to end up either extending the time period and or removing their uniforms to take part in the political process as Jammeh and many other Coup leaders have done???

 

What is clear is that those who execute successful military takeovers will likely want to stay around to enjoy the fruits of their success. Consequently a word of caution to civilians out there and especially diasporians- do not expect a new government to be handed over to you on a platter despite you grand efforts over the years to effect change. I am sure however that some of you will be invited and encouraged to come back home to assist in “national development” and to rectify the wrongs that the Kanilai monster had inflicted on Gambians. Any government that takes over from Jammeh would inherit enormous economic and governance problems. Fixing the economy will be a mammoth’s task as Jammeh had over the years plundered the economy and ran the country as a family estate. Most investors have already left the Gambia and it will take a new government a lot of enticing to bring back serious investors who will understandably adopt a wait and see approach in order to decipher whether there will be stability before moving in. The judiciary and the legal profession as we all know have over the years been compromised and the civil service politicized. Accountability and loyalty to the state has long been eroded and replaced with sycophancy, fear and adulation to one man. Gambians will therefore need to transform their way of thinking and engagement after almost 20 years of being remote controlled.

Worst still, the new government will have to deal with the same dishonorable and ignoble Gambian elites and technocrats who have so ably and willingly implemented the policies, directives and orders of Jammeh thereby perpetuating him in power. Watch how they will shamefully turn around to support the new regime and pretend that all our woes were caused by Jammeh alone. You will be surprised by their lame duck excuses. Watch out for the likes of Dr Tamsir Mbow, Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay, Ngoju Bah, AG Lamin Jobarteh and co some members of the judiciary, army, police force & security forces etc- the list is endless. The religious leaders (except for a handful) who have hitherto lost their credibility over the years as men and women of God will need to be reminded of their true role of preaching God’s word without fear or favor, ill will or affection and most importantly, they must preach religious tolerance and acceptance of others and not incite or instigate hatred and division among different religions and religious views. This world does not only comprise of Muslim but also Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist etc and we can find both good and evil in men and women of different religious persuasions. God is not a monopoly of any one religion plain and simple. Gambians will not be able to forge ahead if they do not invest in an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). A lot of water would have passed under the bridge by the time Jammeh is gone.

There has been many reported and documented incidents of disappearances, mysterious deaths, unsolved murders, extrajudicial killings, attempted assassinations, alleged torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, unfair dismissals and gross abuse of power. These alleged crimes and atrocities must be investigated and brought to light. Gambians must know how it all happened. The Who, Why, When, Where and How must be revealed. We cannot talk about forgiving and forgetting if we do not investigate the past and know who were the people responsible and the victims and their families compensated and offered apologies. This is the only way we will be able to heal. Those who have participated, aided, abetted and counsel the commission of these hideous and gruesome crimes must be exposed and they must own up to their crimes.

It is only by so doing that we can discover ourselves and know who we truly are. We cannot just say that because Jammeh is gone we should therefore forgive and forget. That will only tantamount to sweeping the problems under the carpet which will do no one any good. There should be no impunity. Justice must not only be done but it must be seen to be do In order to move forward, Gambians will need a good dose of civic education and the mass media should spearhead civic education.

The radio especially, TV, and schools should be used as a medium to enlighten the masses on communal, societal and public issues that affects their daily life. Under Jammeh, expressions of political ideas and opinions have been stifled to the extent that Gambians cannot talk freely about matters affecting their daily lives openly. Topics involving bad governance are a taboo. In fact most people have been conditioned not to ask any questions regarding the way they are being governed for fear of being arrested and or victimized by the dreaded NIA. Genuine democracy requires that people are aware of their rights and responsibilities and also have the capacity to engage and make demands of their governments.

The people are the tax payers and they should be able to ask questions about the way their taxes are being spent by the executive among many other things. One cannot overemphasize the need for an Independent and impartial Judiciary in a serious country. The current judiciary is considered to be a bunch of mercenaries who are mostly inept, corrupt and take orders from Jammeh and are appointed and removed at his whims and caprices.

A new government will have to overhaul the judiciary and justice system in order to bring back confidence that the people have lost in our judiciary that is to say impartiality and independence. To sustain and nurture good governance, the new government must set up independent, autonomous and strong oversight institutions such as a functioning office of the Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission, Anti corruption etc.

These institutions should be manned by competent, independent and people with proven integrity. Their tenure of office should be secured and they should not be easily removed without due process. In conclusion, Gambians should try and take lessons on democracy (especially civic engagement) from their neighbours such as Senegal and Ghana. Gambians should never allow themselves to be emasculated by any despot. The era of “maslaha” should be done away with.

Let us engage each other, let us engage our politicians, religious leaders, professional associations, public officials etc, etc regardless of our affiliation, connection or bond with them. We all have a stake in the nation and we cannot allow a bunch of misfits supported by our selfish and dishonest brothers, sisters, uncles and relatives to hijack our country otherwise we will replace Yahya Jammeh with another one except in name only. From Papa Kumba Loum

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