Dear General Ousman Badjie (CDS) and Members of the Gambia Armed Forces,
Please allow me to address this open letter to you in the name of God and for the love of country that binds us all into one big Gambian family. This letter is not written out of anger or frustration or a desire to incite disorder. Rather, it is inspired by a desire to share our thoughts with you on the current sad situation in our country and call upon you to step in and safe our country from potential disaster, whether of a short, medium or long term nature. We believe that in the face of the current deadlock concerning the results of the December 1 elections, the Gambia Armed Forces are capable of bringing about a resolution without jeopardizing the security and future of our country and our people. We are not calling for violent action by the army. We are calling on the Gambia Armed Forces to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step down when his term expires in January 2017.
We make bold to say that all members of the Gambia Armed Forces, from CDS Badjie to the latest recruit know in your heart of hearts and between you and your conscience and your God that the Coalition won the December 1, elections. We know that you recognize, perhaps in spite of yourselves, that what Yahya Jammeh is doing is not in line with Natural Justice and that he is doing it simply because he feels that he can do it with your support. We also know that you know that what Yahya Jammeh is doing poses a security threat to our country and our beloved mothers, fathers, uncles, brothers, sisters and children. Like we have argued elsewhere, a country is like an egg; once broken, it is impossible to put it back together. It is therefore profoundly imperative that you, the Gambia Armed Forces save the situation by persuading Mr. Jammeh to respect the results of the December 1 elections and duly hand power over to the Coalition leadership when his term expires in January 2017.
We were mighty proud to see that CDS Badjie called the president elect to pledge his loyalty and the loyalty of the Gambia Armed Forces to the new government. That was absolutely the right thing to do. In the light of Jammeh’s decision to backtrack upon his word and try to annul the results of the election, we can understand why CDS Badjie would declare that his loyalty is to the sitting government. However, we want to point out that there is a mistaken assumption that Yahya Jammeh pays General Badjie’s salary or the salary of any Gambian public servant for the matter. General Badjie’s salary, President Jammeh’s salary and the salaries of all Gambian public servants are paid by the Gambian nation, the Gambia people. When Jammeh steps down, as he needs to be convinced to do, the salaries of the Gambia Armed Forces will continue to be paid by the Gambian nation. The state, which is to say the government and the head of state, are embedded within the nation; they are servants of the Gambian people if only for the fact that we cannot imagine a government without a people. The government and those who head the government are simply privileged individuals executing the business of governance and administration on behalf of the people. General Badjie and the Gambia Armed Forces are sworn to render unqualified allegiance not to either Mr. Jammeh or Mr. Barrow, but to the Gambian nation. You are sworn to defend the Gambian nation from any threat to its security, longevity and survival, whether that threat is internal or external. And we are confident that in the final analysis, you will do just that. We all remember that back in 1994, Yahya Jammeh did not render unqualified allegiance to the president and the government that was ostensibly paying his salary. Once he believed that the Jawara government was posing some kind of threat to the Gambian nation, his allegiance lay squarely with the Gambian nation. Hence his decision to work with other officers of the Gambia Armed Forces to overthrow the Jawara government. He never stops talking about his allegiance and love for The Gambia and the Gambian people, which makes it all the more amazing that he is now threatening the very survival of The Gambia and the Gambian people by trying to cling on to power after losing elections he described as rig-proof both before and after December 1.
We are asking you General Badjie and all members of the Gambia Armed Forces to follow what your own conscience tells you to be the truth of our current situation, and to persuaded Mr. Jammeh not to continue posing such a dangerous threat to the security of our country and to your own lives and the lives of all our people, from our grandparents to our young and innocent children. Mr. Jammeh has won four elections in a row. He has been president for 22 years. He should be persuaded to step down and let The Gambia experiment with new leadership and new ways of doing things. He should be persuaded that The Gambia is bigger than any single individual citizen and that all citizens have equal rights and equal stakes in the well-being of the country. He should be persuaded that his refusal to accept the election results threatens to plunge our country into the space of no return. Should he refuse to step down, anything can happen. There could be mass protests or foreign military intervention or something else that could seriously destabilize our country. And then it would be you, the Gambia Armed Forces and hundreds of thousands of innocent Gambian men, women and children who will bear the brunt of the unpredictable consequences. Yahya Jammeh has been in power for 22 years. He needs to be persuaded to leave in peace and allow our dear little country to experiment with new leadership and new ideas.
Having studied Yahya Jammeh for the past 22 years, we know very well that he is only a civilian in external clothing. If we may beg to use a metaphor, for the past 22 years, Yahya Jammeh has been a military leader in civilian clothes. Just after the 1994 coup, we remember him repeating over and over again that once a soldier, always a soldier; and we totally agree. It is just natural that people often assume the inherent identities of their chosen professions. In the middle of this current crisis, we also know that Yahya Jammeh is saying or suggesting to you General Badjie and to the Gambia Armed Forces what he is not saying or suggesting to the Gambian public or the wider world. Yahya Jammeh’s hidden script follows a well-worn path of his since 1994 and may roughly go something like this:
“In 1994 we soldiers risked our lives to save this country from corrupt civilians and from foreign influences that were exploiting our resources. We have protected this country from corruption and foreign control and exploitation for the past 22 years and we are not going to allow foreign influences to manipulate our electoral system and bring corrupt civilians back into power in this country. Your duty is not to defend any individual but to defend this country and I expect you all to do your duty. If so-called foreign powers think they can install a puppet and corrupt civilian government in this country, they are fooling themselves. We are going to make sure that this country remains independent and we will never allow any so-called coalition to rule this country as long as I am alive. Recently I promoted some of you because I know that if I leave as I initially thought of doing, the incoming civilians will forget all about you. To safeguard your interest and the interest of all Gambians, I have decided that we are not going to let this country fall into the hands of corrupt civilians and their foreign masters again. We are soldiers and we will remain true to our country and I expect all of you to remember that.”
All that, General Badjie and members of the Gambia Armed Forces, is simple propaganda talk with little basis in reality. Jammeh fears that he would be prosecuted after leaving office and he wants to make sure that he fulfills his promise of ruling The Gambia for as long as he is alive. In the process, he is telling you things that he feels you want to hear or should hear and he wants you to believe in non-existent foreign conspiracy theories. We want to end this open letter by calling upon you, General Badjie and all members of the Gambia Armed Forces to do what is right, what you know is right, and what is best for our country, which is what you are sworn to do and persuade Mr. Jammeh to hand over power and retire a free man to his farm in Kanilai or wherever he wants. We believe that Gambia being a very religious community, all members of the Gambia Armed Forces believe in God; which means that all Gambian soldiers k now that when they die, as we all must one day, they will be accountable for their deeds in this world. Please do not allow one man’s hunger for power to drag you into hell, or to saddle you with questions of injustice that you will one day find it difficult to justify before God. Each person to his or her own grave. Each person has his or her own book of deeds. Please persuade Yahya Jammeh that 22 years of being president is enough and that he should peacefully step down and allow The Gambia to move on in peace and tranquility. Please persuade Mr. Jammeh that might is not always right. Thank you for being there for our dear country.
Author’s Note: Please share with relatives, family and friends in our military and other security services. Thank you.
It’s strange that for some people facts count for nothing: take for example, the simple concept of cause and effect, or in everyday language “for every action there is always an opposite and direct reaction- thus we can drive/ride cars, aeroplanes- thus for every matter, president or otherwise, the equivalently simplified notion/fact is that for every deed, neglect or otherwise there is always a day of reckoning!!. This is simply a law of nature; just like the rotation of the earth around the sun – a necessary phenomenon that stops the oceans from flooding all the lands of the earth on which we humans and other terrestrials live. And just like the utter devastation wrecked on the poor by the global financial crises caused by the sanctioning of the misguided action of a few, but very clever fat cats – Fat cat Jammeh cannot, and should not be allowed to cocoon himself from the consequences of his 22 years of actions and neglect meted on the Gambian people who, finally, have through the world order (elections)triumphed thus calling him to account/invoking “the day of reckoning”. Since by the laws of nature for every actions there is an equal and opposite reaction (this is O Level Physics and Jammeh has claimed elsewhere that he has a pass in O Level Physics) – it should not surprise Jammeh that for every $50 million that he Jammeh caused to me transferred into his Gold DIGGERS wife’s account overseas, equally and proportionately, say, 50,000 or so babies born in the Gambia to lesser mortals had had to go without milk – leading in some cases to dead, malnutrition, severely underdeveloped brains. By this account alone, not to mention your total disregard for human dignity, why are you surprised that the Gambian reaction was an equal and proportionate defeat in the 2016 election. It was cumulative Fat cat!!
Among the best solution to our current political predicament is constitutional rights of citizens to bear arms for self defense. I am an advocate of gun rights. Jammeh is a bad guy with guns but when we have good guys with guns , jammeh and his thugs would have listened to the aspirations of Gambian people who have constitutionally voted him out . But everyone is begging him to step down when he has already committed a treasonable offense which means he should have been sentenced to death or life in prison. The power of voting is not the only solution to our African democracy, democracy means people should have the ability to arm themselves with knowledge, weapons and legal means to safeguard their constitutional rights and responsibility. Do you think if Gambian citizens have the constitutional rights to bear arms Yaya jammeh will behave like the way he is behaving ? I don’t think so . The founding fathers of America recognized the power of tyrannical government to oppress ordinary citizens which was why second amendment rights was put in place as a means of self defense from the excess of tyrannical and oppressive regime . If our people are armed , today some would have been training for self defense to defend their votes but unfortunately it is the criminal government which is well armed while the defenseless citizens helplessly beg the tyrant to give up the power. This is the fundamental lesson Africans must learn . It was the same fundamental lesson that Africans took to liberate themselves from colonial rule in many countries. They were Armed. At the moment,it is the same fundamental lesson most Gambians are yearning for in the form of military intervention if the dictator Yaya jammeh continue to violate the will of Gambian people. When that happens , citizens will be exposed to violence without having the ability to defend themselves and their families. The cycle of citizens oppression will continue under both the military intervention forces and tyrannical regime it hope to replace because citizens are not armed for self defense. I know it is a crazy idea as far as African’s politics is concerned but in order to respect each other’s right , every man and woman must be armed to protect himself or herself. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with gun . Until we have that mindset, jammeh and his types will continue to dominate our political space and tramples on people’s rights.
At least you admit that it’s a crazy idea. That’s why many don’t want guns to be carried by all and sundry. Gambia does have laws that permit owning certain, non military firearms, but licence must be obtained.
The people have the power to force Jammeh out without resorting to guns when his term expires. Right now, what everyone is doing is trying to prevail on him to accept the inevitable peacefully, but there will be a new president in or around mid January. He still has a month or so left in his mandate from 2012, when he began this current 5 year term.
Whether he relinquishes power now, as many are calling, and forgo the remainder of his term, due to the shameful way he has conducted himself, is entirely up to him, but once his term expires, then it becomes up to us to kick him out. And surely, he will be kicked out. I am 100% certain of that.
Bax , I believe the coward is looking for amnesty so that he live freely without going to prison. It would be a mistake to allow him live in his home village without disarming him and his thugs. I want to see jammeh suffer for rest of his life .
Max….I am not sure about wanting to see human beings suffer, even if they have made others suffer, but I agree with the views that justice must be done and seen to be done. However, I also believe that what interests Gambians most is peace, stability, progress and a departure from the evil regime of Yaya Jammeh. As a Gambian, and knowing Gambians, I have no doubts that many will very happily, very contentedly and very peacefully batter quite a lot, to achieve these dreams.
Indeed, Yaya Jammeh and his regime’s crimes must be extensively investigated to establish the facts and expose his criminality against the people and state, but we can show the whole world that we, as a nation and people, are not a reflection of the inhuman barbarism of our government of the last 22 years, by forgiving for the sake of PEACE and STABILITY. Let’s show the whole world that indeed he is one of us, but he is the Black Sheep that got into power due to an unfortunate accident of history, 22 years ago.
We should NEVER forget Jammeh’s crimes and must not leave anyone of them uninvestigated, but if granting him some level of immunity from prosecution is what will end this potentially explosive situation peacefully, then we must be prepared to do that for the sake of our dear motherland. Peace is priceless but it becomes even more so, if you are a country like little Gambia. Let’s explore ways and means of making Jammeh’s crimes less painful first, to the victims and their families, as well as to the whole nation, but let’s actively work for peace at all cost. The Smiling Coast must never be the crying coast again, even for despicable citizens like Yaya Jammeh.
If apartheid South Africa, with a far more painful and much longer period of experience of subjugation, dehumanisation and dispossession can become the Rainbow Nation overnight, by forgiving and reconciling, we in The Gambia should have little difficulty in becoming the Smiling Coast of Africa, known for nothing but peace and for being an oasis of serenity. After all, the great Nelson Mandela is our hero too. I don’t know about you, but I think we can do it, and do it we must, if that is what it will take to spare our children and our weak, sickly and vulnerable elders/adults from the scourges of conflict.
Bax , I agree with some of your points about peace and reconciliation. However, I don’t understand what you actually mean ” making jammeh’s crimes less painful first to the Victims and their families as well as the whole nation but let’s actively work for peace at all cost “.
Bax , peace is a relative term which most people misunderstood. Peace is not just absent of war but it is about justice. Gambia is not a peaceful country in the past 22 years despite lack of collective conflict at the national level. This is simply because many citizens are not living in peace due to horrendous human rights violations and fear across the country. Today majority of citizenry are not at peace not just because of human rights violations but also due to economic deterioration and poor living standards. But the worst violations is the crimes committed over two decades with total impunity. How can you make the jammeh’s crimes less painful first to the victims and their families and the nation ? The way I understand your statement about making the crimes less painful is that you do not put yourself in the position of those in pain and that is unacceptable and outrageous. There is no therapeutic intervention where you can make the crimes less painful. If you want to do that ( making crimes less painful) then you are dismissing the crime and you will fail to empathize with the victims . For us to be able to have true peace and reconciliation, perpetrators of crimes must first acknowledge their crimes by taking personal responsibility. When they take personal responsibility, they must show remorse and show empathy and sympathy to the victims and their families. This can be achieved through group sessions such as appearance in courts where they can testify before the judge . This must be televised to the whole nation so that we can all learn from it in order to prevent reoccurrence. The victims and families will have opportunity in such courts to express their feelings as to whether they forgive or the impacts of such human rights violations on them and their families. Yaya jammeh personally must confess to all the crimes he illegally ordered .
The whole purpose of reconciliation is to accept responsibility for the crimes and acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victims. This the first step. I believe that there has to be some form of punishment for the crimes committed in the past 22 years . The punishments could be in the form of economic, social/political and legal punishment. The economic punishment is the denial and confiscation of stolen money they took from the indigenous people. Jammeh and his cronies must be investigated about corruption and mismanagement. Their assets must be taken away. Social punishment has to do with the society ostracized the perpetrators of atrocities and this can be achieved through public confessions to the crimes in a televised court hearings. Such public confessions has the power to destroy political and social standing of the perpetrators because the society will know these people are evil . Legal punishment is simply using the law of the land to punish some perpetrators in order to prevent future atrocities. We cannot simply say we want peace and reconciliation without putting the above factors in consideration.
The gun legalisation idea in the Gambia’s case would be to the despot’s favour whereby his primitive state assasins would appear in civilian clothes disguised as good, to commit atrocities against the innocent population. Gambian citizenry is not that sophisticated to possess firearms for the purpose of protecting the Gambia’s constitution from getting prostituted by excessive and abusive excersise of power by its mandated leaders. I am 100% certain of it too, Jammeh will be kicked out because it is apparent the Gambia, Africans (West Africa) are taking off towards the African dream and that process will no more be hindered by Africa’s mad leaders like Yaya Jammeh. His bitterness and brutality is best demonstrated when he wore a leer looking over the corpses of his victims lying in blood. It is the same Jammeh who went on a witch hunt rampage in the country claiming witches ate her aunt. Wouldn’t president Ellen be startled by such a figure of a president……..However, for the Gambian families all of those young men died. May the victims’ souls rest in eternal peace and God bless their saddened beloved ones.
It is better that the Gambian population are not exposed to automatic firearms when at a time they don’t have the necessary modern farming implements to make enough food for the nation. I think the population as a whole need some upliftment, two or three point up in the ABC of democracy and their values for a civil society.
This piece of advice is exceptional. Thanks Baba Galleh. I know you as outright person since you were at Armitage High School. There is uncertainty in Gambia now as most people are moving their families from the coast to the provinces or cassamance for safety.. we are praying for peace to prevail in our beloved country
Thank you Baba Yanks. If you know me from my Armitage days, you know me very well indeed. Jammeh has some evil designs, but God has His own designs too, and God’s designs will prevail. Thanks a lot.
A very good piece of advice but an absolute waste of time to even think that you can advice these animals. From Jammeh to anyone that supports him, do not have any place within the human race. Reading the body language of Jammeh, I have never seen him so scared. These soldiers have committed so many atrocities on their fellow Gambians that they know once they leave office, they will have to be accountable for every inhumane acts they committed against innocent cityzens of this once peaceful nation.
After exhausting all diplomatic means to convince that animal to peacefully handover power to the legitimate winner of the elections, I think enough is enough. Twenty years of Jammeh’s brutality against his people whilst the ECOWAS, AU, UN and the entire international community stood by and watched, I believe it is high time ECOWAS with the backing of the US intervene militarily and flush out Jammeh and all his enablers out. Clemency is completely out of the Question. They have set us back to the dark ages and they must pay. A tooth for a tooth.
As the international community are finding a peaceful solution, these animals are planning how to further butcher innocent gambians as they have done for more than 2 decades. To see the CDS, Ousman Badjie attending a meeting dressed in jujus from head to toe, is a clear manifestation of the regime we are dealing with. No enabler should go scot-free. They fed gambians with blood for far too long and an example must be set. Pleading to Yahya Jammeh is nothing but an absolute waste of time and resources.