(JollofNews) – There are all indications that the Gambia is drifting towards a very dangerous path, while those in authority are only looking at one direction; which is to continue to subject President Yahya Jammeh’s opponents to all sorts of humiliation and degrading treatment, including torturing some to death, but without considering the possible negative consequences such actions could lead to.
Looking at various video clips posted on social media about the reactions to the perceived brutalities meted out to peaceful opposition demonstrators and the ongoing trial of Ousainou Darboe and virtually the entire executive of the United Democratic Party, one would tend to believe that the Gambia is gradually heading to a slow but sure people’s revolution with possible catastrophic consequences, and unless the country’s leadership wake up and realize the futility of their actions, the country is heading for the rocks.
It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of Gambians had been engulfed in fear and as a result cowered into total submission, and therefore had allowed the regime to treat them anyhow without anyone daring to complain.
However, from what we are seeing in the Gambia these past few days since the beginning of the current crisis, it is beginning to appear that the fear factor is fast disappearing and the people are beginning to muster the courage to speak up regardless of the consequences. We have for instance, seen young women, who had hitherto been the most politically docile amongst the population, getting on the front row to vent out their anger about the injustices being meted out to ordinary Gambians by those in power.
Therefore, we can only hope and pray that President Jammeh and his enablers are clever enough to interpret the signs and allow the people some breathing space before it is too late.
It is quite sad that with all the lessons from the sub-region and beyond about the consequences of such mal-treatment of innocent people by those in authority, using the security forces to brutalise political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists, our political leadership either do not seem to have learnt anything or they do not care about the consequences of their actions.
It is indeed quite hard for anyone to comprehend why the government of President Jammeh has so far made no attempt to explain to the people of the Gambia what has happened to those opposition activists who were brutally rounded up when they came out to peacefully demand for electoral reforms.
It has been widely reported that all those arrested were subjected to torture while in detention, leading to at least three of them dying as a result of those tortures, and yet the government has not said anything as if it does not care about the concerns of the people of the country, and that tantamount to endorsement of impunity which is no longer acceptable anywhere in the world.
It is quite hard for any reasonable being to justify what is going on in the Gambia, subjecting innocent people to such brutalities for simply engaging in peaceful protest against the most unfair electoral system still in force in our sub-region, which is simply unacceptable in any civilized nation.
Despite all that however, it is quite disappointing that apart from issuing some belated and mild press statements, both the sub-regional bloc; Ecowas and the African Union are keeping mute over happenings
in the country, as if the ongoing atrocities in Burundi and South Sudan and indeed other African countries bedeviled by bad governance are not enough lessons to learn from.
When would our African institutions ever muster the courage to come to the defense of ordinary Africans and call despotic African leaders to order before it is too late?
Just at a glance of the Gambia’s electoral system, which had been the trigger for the current crisis, one would see how unfair and inequitable it is and how it is neigh impossible for the opposition to ever make inroads in any elections. Apart from the Gambia being the only country in the whole wide world still using stone-age marbles instead of ballot papers, not to talk about electronic voting in its elections, it is also the only country in the sub-region where the head of state, who is also a party leader and presidential candidate, assumes the absolute power to appoint and dismiss all the members of the socalled Independent Electoral Commission, which is nothing more than a mere puppet to help President Jammeh cling on to power indefinitely. He is therefore the prosecutor, judge and jury in the entire process and with such a scenario, the outcome of any election is quite predictable. This is no doubt why he has been in power now for about 22 years and still counting.
The Gambia is also the only country where the opposition is neither consulted nor given any say in the running of the electoral process at every stage, including voter registration and constituency demarcation, all of which are handled by people appointed by the head of state and the ruling party. Even the very idea of providing authenticated electoral lists to all the political parties, which are taken for granted in all other countries in the sub-region, is unheard of in the Gambia. Thus, the entire process is handled from the office of the president by supporters of the ruling party. It is just like the opposing team in a football match being allowed to appoint the referees and all the match officials and yet people expect the match to be free and fair.
Therefore, there is absolutely no fairness and equity in the entire electoral process in the Gambia, hence the justification for opposition agitation for electoral reforms. However, as more and more Gambians get exposed to social media and they see what is going on in other countries in the sub-region and beyond, including the robust political debates going on in neighboring Senegal, it is hard to see how the Gambian authorities can continue to deny them their most basic political and social rights and get away with it.
Indeed President Jammeh’s undiplomatic tirades against the rest of the world, including the Gambia’s very development partners and neighbours, is certainly going to aggravate rather than help the situation, and the sooner he realizes that the Gambia cannot exist in isolation, the better both for him and the country at large.