It is so, so sad that we Africans always—or most of the time—create our own problems, sparking very serious crises and blaming it on others.
The current example of this is Yahya Jammeh, the defeated Gambian Head of State, who lost the December 1, 2016 presidential election to the joint Opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
At first, to the delight of the world, but most especially the Gambian people, Jammeh conceded defeat. But a few days later he came up with the spurious and shocking claim of electoral “irregularities” and demanded a re-run of the election!
That is totally unacceptable to everyone—the Gambian people, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the United Nations and the whole international community.
The leaders of the main regional power, ECOWAS, led by their Chairperson, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, have made many attempts to intervene and get Mr. Jammeh to see reason to step aside, in accordance with the wishes of the Gambian people. The ECOWAS Leaders have made several trips to Banjul, but each time they have been rebuffed by Mr. Jammeh.
The latest attempt came last Friday, January 13, when the ECOWAS leaders, represented by President Sirleaf, Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari, and Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, again traveled to Banjul, to have talks with Mr. Jammeh to see reason to step down. But he remained stubbornly unreasonable and turned down their plea.
Why, the whole world is asking, does he want to create a totally unnecessary crisis? For no one, not even the peaceful Gambian people, can tolerate such arrogant and unconscionable behavior.
In Bamako, Mali, last Saturday, at the conclusion of the Franco-African Summit, and in the presence of French President Francois Hollande and ECOWAS, AU and United Nations leaders, the President of Mali, Ibrahim Keita, appealed to Mr. Jammeh to step aside and avoid “a bloodbath” in his country.
That is a clear indication that the international community will not sit idly by and permit Mr. Jammeh to challenge the whole world, and most especially the Gambian people who voted him out of office. None of us can permit this reprehensible (wrong, bad, shameful) behavior.
Now he has caused ECOWAS leaders to take the extreme step that no one wanted—to appeal to the UN Security Council to approve military action if President-Elect Barrow’s inauguration on Thursday, January 19 is blocked.
Only 27 years ago, President Sir Dawda Jawara welcomed many Liberian refugees into the Gambia, fleeing the devastating and murderous civil war in Liberia. Now the hospitable Gambians, who with open arms, welcomed Liberian refugees, are now fleeing their peaceful country, for fear of the outbreak of war in their land of nativity. How sad! How so unnecessary! How so shameful for Africa and for Africans, who at a time when the rest of the world, in every direction, is forging ahead in peace, development, progress, here we are, inviting war in a peaceful nation, The Gambia.
We once again appeal to Mr. Jammeh not to let this happen, not to put his innocent and peace-loving people through this traumatic experience that was painfully endured in Liberia for 14 years; and more recently in Mali and Central African Republic (CAR).
Listen, we pray you once again, Mr. Jammeh, to voice of reason: step aside and allow the constitutional transfer of power to take place through the inauguration of President-Elect Adama Barrow as President of your dear country, The Gambia.
Africa does not need another bloodbath. Far too much blood has been unnecessarily spilled on our continent, destabilizing the lives of our people, weakening us and rendering us even more dependent on other people for emergency aid and succor.
O Mother Africa, how long, how long?