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On The Gambia, Jammeh and looming ECOWAS intervention

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Added 4th January 2017 12:09 PM

The Gambians went to a highly contested poll that saw the opposition edge over Jammeh.

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By Abdulhamid Manzil

A show down awaits the world after January 19 when President Jammeh of The Gambia’s term is expected to end. Regional block ECOWAS, through its plain-speaking Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza, has expressed certainty to use “draconian” measures as an alternative to failing diplomacy.

To make real the threat of using force, de Souza told Malian Television the “deadline is January 19 when the mandate of Jammed ends” and that “If he [Jammeh] doesn’t go, we have a force that is already on alert, and this force will intervene to restore the will of the people”.

Senegal, The Gambia’s only territorial neighbor, will lead the military action, according to reports.

So, with the backing of African Union, whose Chairperson Idris Deby called the ECOWAS position “principled”, we might see The Gambia up in flames.

This latest position taken by ECOWAS and its allies, notwithstanding the outcome of the controversial elections, is surely going to imperil the future of The Gambia and devastate its citizens contrary to what it apparently intends to achieve. Here is why.

The Gambians went to a highly contested poll that saw the opposition edge over Jammeh with a marginal 19,221votes (3.7%) after the Electoral Commission ‘modified’ the previously announced results. Jammeh, who had conceded before the official results were announced, changed heart on December 9, four days after the ‘modification’ of the results. It should now be clear that the country is divided between two polarized, mutually dissenting political groupings, given the margin of victory secured by the opposition coalition.

President Jammeh’s political party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) is in the Supreme Court contesting the outcome of the elections as provided for by Article 49 of The Gambian constitution, something the opposition and their military adventurists in the ECOWAS won’t give chance to.

While President Jammeh told state television on December 20 he would accept the results if they are upheld by the Supreme Court, the opposition coalition maintain “no court on earth can cancel Barrow’s victory”, so there will be a deadlock.

In a December 16 statement, ECOWAS stated Adama “must be sworn in” in order to “respect the will of The Gambian people and that “the authority [ECOWAS] shall undertake all necessary actions to enforce the result of the election”, without reference to the impending Supreme Court ruling.

It must be noted that with all the display of love for The Gambian people, more so by the overzealous ECOWAS, the responsibility of sorting out that country even if it means forcefully removing President Jammeh from power, is a role to be exercised by The Gambians alone!

Although others would argue that the impending military intervention is to be conducted by ‘African’ troops and that this is in keeping with the much famed ‘African solutions to African problems’, a military intervention remains the same whether it is conducted by NATO, USA, Britain, Italy, ECOWAS or African Union! Their result all over the world is chaos, death, carnage and broken nations.

The Gambians should take full responsibility and sort their crisis by themselves, by whichever means of their choosing. If, however, they choose the quicksand of foreign military intervention and override the state and all its apparati like the military, police, intelligence etc, reconstruction and reclaiming of their sovereignty will be difficult and possibly last a generation. On this, I am sure they are not short of examples.

Internal reorganization, sorting their own crisis whilst upholding the sovereign integrity of their country and its structures will yield a stronger, viable Gambia even after the departure of Jammeh.

The writer is a journalist
Twitter: @manzilIbrahim

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