By Foday Samateh
According to Senegalese news reports quoting the Senegalese Foreign Minister’s statement to the Senegalese National Assembly, “Yahya Jammeh could leave The Gambian power quietly, without being sued for his former exactions. The ECOWAS is in the process of negotiating an amnesty law for him, so that he cedes power to Adama Barrow in a peaceful way.” And on social media, individuals close to President-elect Barrow and his Coalition insinuated as much. They wish to assure the nation that actions are being taken behind the scene for a peaceful transfer of power as mandated by the Constitution, despite Yahya Jammeh’s rancorous protestations that the December election must be discarded for a do-over.
It stands to reason that if ECOWAS is undertaking such a task to stave off the looming political standoff, the Coalition would be in the know. They should clear the air by confirming or denying it. The remarks attributed to the Senegalese Foreign Minister should free the Coalition of any nondisclosure obligations regarding secret negotiations, or impel them to inform the nation they are voted to serve. At this stage, failing to be transparent on this matter cannot be sustained on any justifiable reason.
The prevailing plea since the election has been that the Coalition be given the space to plan the transition behind closed doors and be expected to act in good faith even in the absence of any public information about their decisions and deliberations. The long and short of it is, Trust the Coalition, but the Coalition is in no position to do the same. This argument needs to be retired. It flies in the face of the very purpose and spirit of political transition. But more importantly, it’s antithetical to democracy itself, especially for people seeking to banish a dictatorship.
That said, any effort to bring about peaceful transfer of power ought to be applauded. The benefits are too obvious and numerous to mention. And it’s a given that any peaceful handover would involve some form of negotiated settlement with the incorrigible despot lashing out from the State House. Barrow and his Coalition are dealt a bad hand. It’s an odious affair. Even the thought of giving Yahya Jammeh a pass on anything, more so after the dangerous stunt he’s pulling, is an affront to any idea and meaning of justice. But it may be necessary to avert military intervention. At the same time, the desire for a peaceful resolution shouldn’t obscure the consequences of peace at any cost.
The reality is — in spite of his delusional claims and acts of defiant bluster — the despot needs this conundrum of his own making to end in peace more than the Coalition. More and more, The Gambian public is turning their back on him. ECOWAS, the African Union, the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union all have denounced him and pledged their support to Barrow. And it’s clear from his latest ranting on television that even The Gambia Armed Forces he’s counting on to do the fighting against ECOWAS military intervention are wavering. A despot has never been so deserted and lonely.
Therefore, any amnesty he might end up getting must impose onerous conditions that carry binding penalties in the event of a breach. The Coalition couldn’t be in a firmer position now to demand so. Among other things, these conditions must enjoin Yahya Jammeh to:
declare all the assets, properties, businesses, investments, and savings that are in his name, in the names of his wives and children and he owns through relatives, associates, partners or other fronts both in The Gambia and elsewhere.
surrender these wealth and properties for restitution to the state and those with rightful claims.
relinquish his claims on everything he has built in Kanilai except one house to be a residence for him and his family.
renounce politics; and cease and desist publicly and privately from engaging in politics or providing any form of support to any party or candidate for any office.
not commit any crime or corruption in the future
testify fully and faithfully before any commission of inquiry that may look into crimes and abuses of power committed on his orders, or with his approval or knowledge during his presidency.
If he refuses to consent to these terms and conditions, the use of force must be utilized to evict him in handcuffs from the State House. If he agrees in exchange for immunity from prosecution only to be later found violating or not compiling with any aspect of the terms and conditions, he must be hurled before a judge for all criminal wrongdoings he is responsible for during his time in office.
This is the only amnesty we can hold our nose to offer him. Anything more will be too grievous an injustice to his victims who are still living, and too grave a dishonor to the memory of those murdered.
Yaya Jammeh did not deserve any amnesty in my view . He must be held accountable for his crimes he has committed over the past 22 years. All the monies he and his cronies looted from The Gambia must be recovered. All his assets within and outside the country must be seized from him . All the properties in his name in The Gambia must be taken from him and given to rightful owner or the Gambian state. Yaya jammeh must not be allowed to own anything in The Gambia except his father’s old house in kanillia. This is the only house he rightfully own and entitle’. He must be banned life to participate in politics , support or sponsor any party. He must sit down in competent court to confess to his criminality and such proceedings must be televised in the interest of national education to prevent future human rights violations.
Yahya Jammeh has no rights to any form or sort of amnesty. I don’t think that any organization or government has the right to say that Jammeh will not be persecuted. He has to be accountable for the scores of people he had tortured, made dissapear and killed. Yahya has acted with impunity against the innocent people of the Gambia, therefore he has to pay the price. Let justice prevail ,so that the last dictator in the world will be an example, to deter anyone from following his footsteps.
The Mandate given on the 1st December 2016, was to end tyranny and bring to book all those who committed gruesome human right abuses. That is the mandate at hand from what ever perspective you look at it.
Every Gambian citizen and all Gambians enjoying such citizenship deserve and have the same Political and Civic responsibility and therefore, rights reserved under the 1997 Constitution and under Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No amount of hate can aborogate and render these privileges and rights null and void, no matter how we feel or think. They are the bed rock on which the current Political Dispensation in the Gambia and to the larger extent, the world we live in is anchored. If you deny it to any individual, you deny it to all inclusive of yourself. For whom the Bell Tolls, it may be for you next time…. I don’t know President Yaya Jammeh. I don’t know President Elect Adama Barrow. I don’t have any one of them and can’t afford to deny any their god given right, unless I am willing to deny myself the same. Let’s not allow hate to blind us and turn us in beasts and humans with the unique ability to rationalize and reason with login. These are some of the qualities necessary to engage in Civility and not Anarchy. Empathy and compassion is the other qualities that seperate the human being from the beast. The Gambians I know and grew up with would not allow hate to blind them in to the Cesspool of tribal hate camouflaged into an individual hate. Let’s wash the Dirty Laundry of Surpressed hatred and bigotry. Let’s reach out to the larger Community of all Gambians. Listening to and talking to like minded tribal affiliate friends, only reinforces prejudicial and preconceived notions of the others we are demonizing. The Gambia is too intermingled and interrelated for anyone to have the audacity to entertain any genocide of any kind. Wake up.
Hell no to amnesty for Yaya Jammeh. Gambians deserve every right to prosecute and jail the dictator for life.
A man is presumed innocent until found guilty and the principles of the separation of powers, is the bedrock of any democracy built upon the rule of law.
Let us all agree that our desire is that institutions of state will be allowed to function efficiently, effectively and without interference in the new Gambia. I am certain that the relevant institutions under such an environment, would be able to establish the merits of any allegations against any individuals and pursue the right course of action to seek redress or achieve justice, as laid down by the laws of land.
Sometimes, justice achieved without any punitive actions may be more beneficial to society, as a whole, than the opposite and again, South Africa provides a perfect example for all.