US Says Obama’s Letter To Gambia Leader Skewed

jammehWashington (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s administration on Thursday denied a letter to the Gambia’s authoritarian leader which said Gambians have “much to celebrate” represented an endorsement of his rule.

The letter, sent to mark the Gambia’s 50th anniversary of independence on February 18, was published by the pro-government Daily Observer.

“We congratulated only the people of the Gambia, and not Jammeh,” an administration official told AFP.

“We continue to have serious differences with the government of the Gambia across a range of issues, including its human rights record.”

The Daily Observer reported that “Barack Obama, the president of the United States of America, has felicitated the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh.”

Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, has ruled the former British colony with an iron fist since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

The regime of the man who says he can cure AIDS is often berated for human rights abuses, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and the muzzling of journalists.

The US official said “the President routinely sends notes to countries on their national day.”

US prosecutors have charged three men with conspiring to overthrow the Gambian government in a failed coup last year.

Jammeh blamed foreign dissidents and “terrorists” for the assault on his presidential palace.

Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights said Jammeh has long tried to burnish his image through foreign endorsements.

“(He) is very unpopular in his own country, and across the region, so he often seeks to validate his reign by somehow demonstrating that the world, including the United States, approves of the sheer brutality he has used to maintain power.”

Smith said “manipulating the domestic media has become a true hallmark,” of Jammeh’s rule, and the country has become one of the “world’s most horrid dictatorships.”

Courtesy of AFP



  1. Desparate times in Banjul,,,,,really

    Deeply embarressing.,,,to say the least.

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      Mike, I think the only disagreement we can possibly have over this issue is whether to call it ‘The Obama-Jammeh Fiasco’ or ‘ The Jammeh-Obama Fiasco’. Absolutely embarrassing, to say the least.


  2. Daily observer or Grts will never publish this . Once you are in Yankees bad book , you have a huge task to change that especially someone with paranoid characters .,

  3. Michael, EVIL kanilai devil yaya jammeh HASN’T any human shame in it at ALL. It personally claims credits to anything good & commendable as it’s own personal credentials & not whole of Gambians’…. But it rejects & despise any faults & shortcomings, & always reject them as the responsibility of rest of Gambians’ or outsiders’ & sometimes even blame it on nature & God himself….. How can genuine Gambians, friends & rest of International Community identify with such an armed Thief Joker of Disaster & LIAR of unprecedented magnitude…??? Hence we all are determined to rid our motherland of such shameful undignified national CATASTROPHIC mistake by all & any means necessary until successful… God help Gambia & bless them collective endeavours to salvage Gambia; Ameen.

  4. Thank you Washington for setting the records straight.I have three words, ….Accountability,Transparency and Probity. This is the place where it is practice. I thought accountability and her siblings were gifts to the Gambian people when jammeh overthrew ex_ president Jawara.These words were like flesh to jammeh…And all of a sudden, they were buried six feet under, never to be heard of again, and then our brothers , and our uncles, Fathers, mentors, all of them are buried six feet under.. Mr president please HAND OVER POWER TO A MADAM president..We say all options arebon the table. This is another option and probably the best for you Mr president.TRY TO REACH OUT.

  5. Lafia,,,, I think you have been smarter than the average bear, in your take on this.

    From the brief picture from Kairo News….It would appear to indicate that a letter was sent to President Jammeh on behalf of the Gambian people from President Obama. These letters are a general and cordial protocol between nations.{ Nothing wrong with that} Even Her Majesty The Queen sends out such letters. I don’t believe The Queen or President Obama or President Jammeh for that matter, sits all day looking at a diary…and thinks …

    “Oh! I must send a greeting card” To so and so….,,,,

    There are personel such as under secretaries whose job it is to provide the recipient of the greeting and the anniversary. date…for signature to the head of State.

    Lets be sensible here…. A head of State is not going to write to some obscure secretary….they write between each other.. at there level.

    It may be quite reasonable for Mr Jammeh to recieve the Note on behalf of the Gambian people.

    It would be useful if The Observer were to publish the letter, to assertain if there was room for Mr Jammeh and his advisors to make the assumption that President Jammeh as Head of State was indeed entitled to accept the ” felicitations on behalf of The Gambian people?

    If this is the case…..The Americans have erred rather badly I feel.

    Only fair.

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      The American’s made it clear that there was a letter from Secretary Kerry’s office which made no mention of president Jammeh but which only congratulated the Gambian people on behalf of President Obama, on the occasion of Gambia’s 50th Independence Anniversary.


  6. Thanks Lafia….Gambia should publish the letter. I am only commenting on what Kairo News has reported which say ” Obama routinely sends letters”

    The Observer claim it was sent to His counterpart President Jammeh with “felicitations”

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      Mike, Gambia government purportedly published the letter from Secretary Kerry but they doctored it to make it look like it’s from President Obama. That’s what the American officials meant when they say the letter was skewed- diplomatic language. There was no letter from President Obama, according to the Americans but Secretary Kerry.

      Secretary Kerry must have been busy carefully wording this letter to the extent that he forgot to shovel the snow outside his home in Boston. He got fined for that, wasn’t he???


      Many thanks

  7. Hi, I must say to you all that this is not a matter of publishing or not publishing a leterr, the US government knows much, or probably more, that the Jamme-regime is a rogue-one, most of whose narrarives are based on outright lies, faslifications and mystifications. REmember the supposed award by the US government or another supposed one by an Abidjan based all African institute,later found to be non-existent.
    Forget all tat rubbis the question is do you ave a rod map from where we are?

  8. Batch, Your genuine concerns are noted.

    I am of the opinion that the American’s have erred rather badly.

    For if there side of this story is correct, they were felicitating The Gambian people.

    But surely even this is a blind insult to the deaths, disspearances, Jailing without charge, torture, that Gambian’s have routinely endured this last 20 years.

    Its like saying we congratulate you in your endless and seamless suffering.

    May I express my deepest sympathy for the family of the 27 year old
    female gunned down by soldiers at the checkpoint at Kotu, whilst an innocent passenger in a taxi.

    Clearly post December 30th, Gambian soldiers have been ordered to shoot to kill, at any public missdemeanor.

    Freedom Newspaper claim the taxi driver sped off at the checkpoint, simply because he was not wearing his seat belt.

    I regret that Foriegn visitors to Gambia, may need to be guided by there ambassadors and travel advisors on the deadly conditions present in and around Gambia.

    Regarding a road map….right now, I think this is leading to a place called…no where.

    May her soul rest in perfect peace.