By Momodou Kabba Fatty
The recent standoff between UDP militants and Jammeh’s security forces, and the eventual backing down of those forces has raised hopes that the beginning of the end of Jammeh is imminent, and the fear factor he depends on is beginning to crumble.
The massive public support for UDP and the willingness of ordinary Gambians to join the UDP caravan to boost their numbers; appears to have taken Jammeh and his security apparatus by surprise. The fear factor so effectively used over the last 20 years is not deterring young Gambians from being publicly defiant. Jammeh’s biggest fear is that a population reeling under so much pressure from all angles, might just stand up to the security forces causing a public uprising with unpredictable consequences for all.
I want to argue that the security forces backing down in this instance is not a predictor of how Jammeh will behave in future. That Jammeh is a coward has been proven many times. When he unlawfully executed prisoners in 2012, he lied to the Senegalese president, thinking that admitting the fact may invite an attack from Senegal. Again, when caught red handed trafficking Iranian arms to terrorist, he panicked and acted senseless, thinking that there would be severe international consequences for his recalcitrant behavior. In all these instances, Jammeh takes a calculated gamble with the opposing opinion, ready to capitulate when faced with threats to his rule, or takes a deep sigh of relief when he gets no commensurate sanctions for his criminal activity. In short Jammeh likes to take things to the brink, calculating that his adversaries will not follow him to that end.
Acknowledging the need and desire for concerted and collective action by the Gambian opposition, I believe that UPD on its own is strong enough to dislodge Jammeh in a free and fair election. I believe what the UDP has been lacking is the ability to strategically use this strength to challenge Jammeh every step of the way. Every criminal and unconstitutional act by him must be challenged at all times. And I think this where the leadership of UDP has been found wanting. Why would we believe that the UPD , despite its always successful country wide tours, will stand up to Jammeh come 2016, when Jammeh uses his so called independent electoral commission to fraudulently declare himself the winning candidate of the presidential election.
In a recent press interview, when asked about the possibility of popular uprising (people’s power) to remove Jammeh, the UDP leader said somewhat strangely, that he does not want to use illegal means to come to power. Being a lawyer, he must be thinking of illegality in its narrowest definition. Certainly, it must be justified for people to rise up and demand for their rights and liberties when faced with such gross abuse of power as obtains in the Gambia today.
Arrests without warrant, detentions without trial, disappearance without trace, seizing private and public property without recourse to law, unconstitutional proclamations without the force law, compelling people to observe or not to observe religious duties based on so called presidential decrees. What obtains in Gambia is pure banditry, and if you subscribe to no other means of challenging that except by going to futile elections with Jammeh, then we might as well fold our hands and let Jammeh reign until ALLAH’s time come.