I think it is false claim to indicate that [Gambian] diaspora is helping Jammeh to win next election based on assumption that those who believe that “the election is not going to remove Jammeh from power.” The assertion that election will remove Jammeh from power based on a single factor which Mr Bojang highlighted; that is reduction or absence of foreign voters who are mostly Jolas from Cassamance is not feasible and realistic based on history of military dictatorship as well as current political environment except the following factors below which I think would be helpful to ensure electoral victory. I do not believe that the diaspora is helping Jammeh to win next election, on the contrary the diaspora is doing every thing possible to get rid of Jammeh. Diaspora is the biggest obstacle to Jammeh’s presidency because they help to expose his brutality, criminality, human rights abuses, corruption and mismanagement of Gambian economy.
There are many factors which are essential for effective opposition electoral victory in 2016 if the opposition are united and choose a leader who is ready to sacrifice his life for Gambian people as well as he has both national and international recognition.
These factors include:
- Border regulation will help control the influx of these foreigners who are mostly Jolas from Cassamance. This is the area you have based your article on. This can be done with the help of Senegalese government and its security forces to effectively seal the border. It is highly possible that Senegalese security forces can effectively help to secure the southern border based on recent developments between the two countries as well as Jammeh’s involvement in Casamance rebellion. I do agree with you on that speculation. The Senegalese government and the people of the entire region are sick and tired of our idiotic evil dictator. It is in the interest of the Senegalese people to see him gone forever so that we can have regional peace and stability as well as economic progress and brotherly relationship that has previously existed between the two countries.
Neutral security forces in the pre-election, during and post election is very essential to have free and fair elections and to ensure peace and stability. Based on past elections, it is almost impossible to have such impartial security forces in The Gambia. It was because of the security forces’ intimidation, harassment and threat that ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] has declared that 2011 election was not going to be free and fair which led to cancellation of their observatory role in that election. Has the security situation change or do we have indications that intimidation, threat and harassment is not going to happen this time around? The flat answer is no. The Dictator is in control of security forces. The only way for jammeh to loose control is to have united opposition front who are ready to sacrifice their lives to lead with the support of the majority who are also willing to die with them. In other words, the opposition leaders and their supporters should be ready for confrontation and stand their ground to ensure that their is level playing field in the whole election process and not to subdue to threat and intimidation.
Equal access to state media and all private media must be allowed to operate freely if the opposition is to have any chance for effective electoral victory. Historically this has never been the case in The Gambia. Dictator Jammeh and and his regime has total control and manipulation of the media which makes it extremely hard for the opposition to propagate their message. The solution to this problem is grassroots campaign as UDP is doing and also to encourage more community radios to air opposition political messages which includes their policies and highlight the dictatorship in the country. I doubt Jammeh and IEC will allow that happen in The Gambia.
Resignation of Independent Election Commission Chairman and selection of new members to ensure free and gaur election. These new members should have the support and confidence of opposition leaders. If such scenario do not happen, then the opposition united front must have strong and united leadership which should confront and challenge their conduct such as bias, rig election results and unfair treatment. They should call for massive demonstration or protest which will give them the opportunity to have the support of international community because few people might lost their lives or get arrested in the process. In such scenario, there would be call to form government of national unity or Jammeh to step down. I doubt again if we have such opposition leadership who are ready to sacrifice and are totally united.
Diaspora should provide significant financial support to the opposition United Front and also engage in messaging of opposition policies, programmes and exposure of current military dictatorship. Each and every Gambian who are opposition sympathizer and supporters should be encouraged to call their families to vote for the United Opposition. This is the area I think diaspora can play huge role to ensure victory.
Gambia Bar Association and independent Gambian lawyers should be on stand by if there is needs to challenge the result at high court. Gambian legal minded individuals should put their effort behind the opposition United Front to ensure victory. The problem with legal community is that we do not independent judiciary system in The Gambia because most of the judges and lawyers are foreign machinery corrupt judges who are on jammeh’s payroll. Therefore such scenario is almost non-existence in The Gambia.
The vote apathy is minor issue to solve our current problems when you consider all the factors listed above. Looking at past military dictatorship in Africa and other parts of the world, it is extremely difficult or near impossible to remove military through election. For 21 years jammeh has consolidated himself in power and I think the best case scenario to defeat him which opposition leaders don’t want to do is through United opposition confrontation in the form of massive demonstration or protest as it was done in Burkina Faso. This is why a mere election will not remove jammeh from unless people’s are ready to die for our country and are United. Until then I believe every options should be used to get rid of jammeh including combination of election and massive demonstration, popular uprising and military intervention.