The Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, will be “strongly sanctioned” if he tries to stay in power, the UN’s regional envoy, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, is quoted as saying by the Daily Graphic. Yahya Jammeh, who lost power through the recently held general elections after being in power for 22 years, has sent the military to virtually seize the Gambian Electoral Commission headquarters, claiming that the polls were full of irregularities and must, therefore, be re-run.
The action has already been condemned by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Kin Moon. “The army could compromise ‘sensitive electoral materials”, he has been quoted as saying.
Some ECOWAS member heads of state, comprising of President John Dramani Mahama, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, have already visited the tiny West African nation, but Jammeh still insists on hanging on to power – meaning the diplomatic efforts have failed.
International media reports suggest that ECOWAS would be discussing The Gambian crisis at its next meeting, which is scheduled for this Saturday (tomorrow). The leaders, according to some reports, are considering military intervention, now that the persuasion of Jammeh to respect the will of his people has failed.
But, per the Daily Graphic report, Mr. Mohammed Chambas is not in favour of the military intervention.
“For Mr. Jammeh, the end is here, and under no circumstances can he continue to be president,” Chamabas said, but still insists that military intervention is not the option, and that sanctions must rather be applied.
The Chronicle understands Mr. Chambas, because, as a career diplomat, this is how he would talk. We, nevertheless, have problems with his stance, because any economic sanctions imposed on Jammeh would not affect him (Jammeh), but rather the people of The Gambia who would suffer.
Imposing travel bans on him and his senior government officials too is not punitive enough to force him out of power.
It is based on these factors that we think ECOWAS must apply force to get the tyrant out of power. The Chronicle has been following the debate, where some university professors in Ghana have argued in support of Chambas’ position. To these professors, what happened in Libya and Iraq among others should guide ECOWAS to avoid toeing similar lines. This is no doubt a reasonably argument, but, again, it would be wrong to compare what happened in the aforementioned countries to the situation in The Gambia.
The people of Gambia went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted to kick Yahya Jammeh out of power. This means that the people themselves are calling for change, unlike Libya and Iraq, where, despite all the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi, they still had the support of the majority of the people.
Controversial Jammeh, we understand, has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the results, yet he does not see anything wrong in sending his soldiers to surround the Electoral Commission headquarters, with the sole aim of intimidating the workers.
Clearly, Jammeh is only using the so-called irregularities to cancel the elections through the back door, and then perpetuate himself in power.
There is no way this coup maker would step down for Adama Barrow, the legitimate choice of the people of The Gambia, to lead the country. He is afraid of his own shadow, having committed atrocious crimes, including the gruesome murder of Ghanaians on false charges of invading his country to overthrow him.
Now that stability has been restored to both Sierra Leone and Liberia, ECOWAS and the international community should not allow this monster to cause instability in the sub-region again.
The Chronicle is happy that the US Embassy in Banjul is talking tough and has already demanded that the security forces be withdrawn from the Electoral Commission headquarters, saying the “unnecessary and unprovoked show of force is seen as a move to subvert the democratic process.”
It is the hope of The Chronicle that other world powers would join in condemning Jammeh and help in forcing him out of power. The time for Jammeh to leave the scene is now, and nothing must delay that!