The tiny Gambia has once again dominated the meeting of West African leaders. The Accra meeting on Saturday followed a simIlar one in Abuja last month. Both summits aim to prevail on the outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to renege on his refusal to hand over power. Despite clearly losing December 1st presidential election to Coalition candidate Adama Barrow, Jammeh has been crying foul, questioning the validity of the contest he had earlier dubbed “rig-free.”
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) made their intention very clear during their Abuja meeting that Yahya Jammeh would not be allowed to steal the “will of Gambian voters.” All options – including a military intervention – have been put on the table. High level mediation efforts have also been going underground. These efforts will continue until Yahya Jammeh’s mandate expires on January 18th. If Jammeh still refuses to budge, then woe betide him. In essence, whatever comes after will shape the destiny of ECOWAS with regard to protecting democracy in a regional yet to recover from wounds of civil wars and conflicts. ECOWAS leaders’ failure to tame Gambian tyrant means the end of democracy in their region, for it will breed many more tyrants in not only West Africa But Africa as a whole.
We are not campaigning for ECOWAS troop deployment in the Gambia right now. We need to ask what should be done if Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down after January 18th? Without a constitutional mandate he must not be allowed to rule because this will set bad precedent for Africa.
Jammeh’s allies have resorted to using the national television to distort the truth. Like their losing leader, these allies are searching for anything that will help legitimize Jammeh’s illegitimate mandate. That is why they are putting bogus evidence together to justify that the election has been rigged. These allies fear the intervention of ECOWAS forces to the extent that they started crying early. They were somehow relieved when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia said the regional bloc did not intend to deploy standby military force in the country.
“We are committed to a peaceful mediation and a peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia. We will continue to pursue that for now,” said Sirleaf. Does that mean military intervention is off the table? Not at all.
But that is not end of it all as Nigeria’s Foreign Minister hinted that the regional grouping would hold a meeting on Monday to discuss further steps on the Gambia.
“There are some disturbing information President Muhammadu Buhari] is hearing which he needs to verify and the Abuja meeting will take a final decision,” Geoffrey Onyeama told reporters.
The APRC and their failed leader have embarked on a fight they can never win. No one has ever fought Truth and won. The APRC members can help Jammeh by telling him the Plain Truth that he should pack up and vacate presidency on or before January 18th.