Jam­meh must go now, or get pushed

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

EV­ERY­THING, ex­cept God’s King­dom, comes to an end. These words by Ed­ward An­thony Gomez, the lawyer of power-drunk Yahya Jam­meh, could come back to haunt the un­der-siege for­mer pres­i­dent of The Gam­bia. Strong­man Jam­meh re­fuses to re­lin­quish power after los­ing an elec­tion last month, and has in­stead ex­tended his term of of­fice by 90 days and im­posed a state of emer­gency, plung­ing the tiny West African coun­try into po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

Now ex­iled in neigh­bour­ing Sene­gal, Gomez joins a long list of for­mer al­lies of Jam­meh, for­mer min­is­ters and West African lead­ers calling on him to do the right thing and hand over power.

The De­cem­ber 1 loss ended his 22-year grip to power and raised hopes of a new, demo­cratic be­gin­ning for The Gam­bia.

Jam­meh, who had ear­lier con­ceded de­feat and con­grat­u­lated win­ner Adama Bar­row, som­er­saulted, fear­ing he could be made to ac­count for the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted dur­ing his reign since tak­ing over in a coup in 1994.

But he has bit­ten off more than he can chew and faces be­ing smoked out like for­mer Sene­galese Pres­i­dent Lau­rent Gbagbo. East African lead­ers, in­clud­ing neigh­bours Sene­gal, and pow­er­houses Ghana and Nige­ria, where po­lit­i­cal winds of change have blown in re­cent times, have firmly told Jam­meh: go or we are com­ing for you.

The lead­ers of the three coun­tries won elec­tions and power was trans­ferred peace­fully, so their move is in the best in­ter­ests of democ­racy and peace in the re­gion. A cri­sis in The Gam­bia af­fects their coun­tries, who have to deal with the flood of refugees.

Ecowas forces were yes­ter­day ready to go in and force him out, while Bar­row was to be in­au­gu­rated as the new pres­i­dent at an em­bassy and un­der heavy guard.

This move by the regional bloc sends a strong mes­sage to other dic­ta­tors that they must re­spect the wishes of the peo­ple and leave of­fice when they lose elec­tions. This mes­sage must also be sent to the rest of the con­ti­nent that the era of lead­ers who hang onto power against the wishes of the peo­ple is over.

Jam­meh must go now. Or be forced out. One more un­sta­ble African coun­try is one too many. Our con­ti­nent de­serves bet­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.