The dictator in the West African State of the Gambia, Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Diliu Jammeh, may soon add an additional title to his already numerous accolades. He wants to be called His Majesty Yahya Jammeh. And he is not short of supporters as he assembles the countries traditional rulers in an attempt to hold on to power forever. He has asked tribal chiefs to go round the country and rally support for his coronation. The crafty and ruthless former soldier is so determined to continue to stifle democracy and maintain an autocratic style of governance that he has decided to play his final poker card into fooling his people by introducing a dramatic alteration of the country’s constitution. It is interesting that at a time when most African leaders are embracing and pushing for democracy, dictators like Jammeh are busy subjecting their people to the worst kind of human rights abuse known to man. Jammeh came to power after staging a bloodless coup d’état. Jammeh is now the only remaining member of the original coupists who brought ex-President Sir Dawda Jawara’s 32year rule to an end.
Under the rule of Jammeh press freedom is completely non-existent and opposition parties are more or less banned as political gatherings are not even tolerated. A lot of summary executions have been reported in the small country sandwiched within Senegal. Jammeh has not shied away from accusations by human rights groups who have described him as ruthless – he rejects western type of democracy and has been quoted as saying Africans need their own style of democratic governance. Some locals have already referred to his recent move as scam. Gambians in the Diaspora have been rallying support for a regime change, but it seems the West is not particularly keen on intervening in the internal affairs of the Gambia as they don’t see the country as a regional threat. Most times, human rights issues are not sufficient for any type of military intervention. Human Rights organisations are often influenced to bear pressure on such regimes and sanctions are usually instituted if the abuse goes unabated and is continuous.
But it seems the Gambia is slowly sinking into a police state where liberty and freedom are seriously under threat and something needs to be done to prevent a chaotic and brutal situation that might result in civil catastrophe. Whether Jammeh is aware of the consequences of his actions is another issue as his present actions reveal otherwise and only time will tell. But Gambians need to take back control of their country and peacefully demand a regime change as the half-educated Jammeh is not about to hand over power soon.
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