The Gambia’s former Vice President has accused the country’s leader of handling December 30th failed coup “irresponsibly.”
Bakary Bunja Dabo said instead of behaving like a responsible head of a government, President Yahya Jammeh set up an ambush for the alleged coup plotters and got rid of them. He said a responsible government that got a wind of the coup in advance would deal with the situation in a mature manner.
“I never thought of it as a major threat to his government,” Mr. Dabo told RFI. “It is just an occasion that plays into his hand to play the victim in one hand and also under the excuse of retribution to go against perceived political opponents.”
Dabo had initially denied the reported foiled coup “since we have so many false claims by Jammeh in the past and I thought this was one of them. Subsequently, as details came through that there was actual fire fight of some sort at one or two locations for a brief period, my belief is that really it was all a set up.”
Mr. Jammeh had earlier said dissident Gambian terror attackers included those from the United Kingdom. This turned out to be a hoax, prompting him to extend an apology to the United Kingdom government.
Mr. Dabo described this apology as “a rare gesture of graciousness” on the part of a leader who thinks he is infallible. He said the difficult part of it is that “it is difficult to guess what Jammeh has in mind.”
Dabo said Jammeh was shadow boxing because “the British government had no quarrel with him except challenging his poor records of human rights and generally poor governance records, in which they were advising on which Jammeh does not like and turns it round claiming there was plot by the UK”
Dabo was not sure whether the apology has anything to do with securing the Gambia’s tourism industry. “Tourism is the second major export earner and source of employment for the Gambia,” he said.
“It started with Scandinavia in the late 60s but laterally UK has become the single biggest supply of tourism for an economy which has very little other resources. Serious drop from UK will seriously affect the economy.”
He said the Gambia has had a long standing broad relations with the former colonial master that has left behind quite a strong tradition in areas of administration, education and legal system. “This has been the foundation of a very broad range of cooperation apart from the economic benefit we drive from tourism. Unfortunately, Jammeh by his rash ways of acting, has put a lot of that in jeopardy now.”