The bane of jejune decisions: The case of the Gambian election

By Prof Changamire

The world woke up to the news that president Yahya Jammeh the man who ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for the past 22 years has rejected the results of the December 1 presidential election in totality. This comes in the wake of alleged irregularities, from inflated to deflated votes in favour of his rival. Mr Jammeh goes on further to claim that the electoral commission is not God fearing and as such conspired to remove him from office.

The abnormalities cited by Jammeh come after the electoral commission announced on December 5 that some ballots were added incorrectly thereby increasing Mr Barrow’s win by 9% from the original 4%.

The current Gambian situation is not peculiar however and clearly shows the AU/ ICC’s bone of contention. Peace over justice or justice over peace. No “big boys of Africa” called Jammah an told him to remain in office, on the flip side the I argue that Gambian human rights groups are squarely to blame for this mess, it was insidious and presumptuous for them to announce that they will prosecute him, especially when he was still the incumbent and in control of state security and other state machinery . This is total hogwash and a classical armature hour by those organisations and or the president in waiting.

The current Gambian situation has nothing to do with being African it has everything to do with being human. Clinton did the same thing recently if you are to be honest about it, even Trump eased up on his, ” Clinton must be prosecuted rhetoric”. It was immature to announce that they will go after Jammeh’s head, the same Jammeh who once said he will rule for a billion years, the same Jammeh who persecuted his opponents and made them disappear .

Even though he got into power through a bloodless coup the fact remains that he was a power hungry maniac. Those who called for his prosecution failed to realise that one of the main reasons dictators hold on to power is the fear of being prosecuted. There was plenty of time to deal with Jammeh and make him face justice.

This is in no way victimising the victim, Barrow should have waited for a more opportune time and that time wasn’t now as events of the last 24 hours have proven. Three options now exist for the people of Gambia, scenario 1 is Jammeh is willing to go if and only his freedom can be guaranteed. Scenario 2 A power sharing deal will be agreed and entered into. Scenario 3 is the most likely one where the fresh elections will have disparities that favour the incumbent and Jammeh remains in power.

Whilst I agree that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of peace, there are ways to achieve this without upsetting the proverbial apple cart, sad and unfortunate as it maybe, In wild celebrations and sentimentalism the Gambian people have short lived their own emancipation from the tentacles of a dictator.

  • Prof Changamire is a political analyst, social commentator, for Khuluma Afrika