We vividly recall how Samuel Doe drove Liberia into civil war with his corrupt economic actions and, worse, the indiscriminate killings by his death squads marauding everywhere, exterminating innocent men, women and children.
Even after the Lutheran Church massacre on July 29, 1990, when over 600 people seeking refuge there were hacked to death, masterminded by Doe himself, ECOWAS said and did nothing. Nothing until a Liberian journalist who during a brief exile with his family in Accra, Ghana, called his friend, British Ambassador in Banjul, Alec Ibbot, and asked, “Ambassador, have you heard the news?”
“Yes, Kenneth. Dreadful, isn’t it?”
The journalist then appealed to him to contact his Western diplomatic colleagues and go and see President Dawda K. Jawara and tell him to SAY something and DO something. For at that point, July 30, not a single African leader had said a word about the Lutheran church massacre in Monrovia.
Ambassador Ibbot and his Western diplomatic colleagues immediately contacted Foreign Minister Omar Sey, who relayed their request to the President. Jawara was then Chair of the six-member ECOWAS Mediation Committee—The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo. He immediately convened an urgent meeting of the Committee on August 6-7, 1990. It was during that meeting that the decision was made to send ECOMOG, an ECOWAS peace-keeping contingent, to Liberia.
That meeting was followed by the All Party Liberian Conference, held in Banjul the following month, September, when Amos Sawyer was elected President of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU).
Unfortunately, due to the ineptitude of the Interim Government and the intransigence of the greedy, corrupt and power-hungry Charles G. Taylor, the war dragged on for 14 years.
Is ECOWAS waiting for another massacre to take place in The Gambia before it speaks out and acts against Yayah Jammeh’s murderous brutality? This very week he arrested many opposition leaders, including Ousainou Darboe, Chairman of the main opposition group, United Democratic Party (UDP).
Earlier the party’s Secretary General, Solo Sandeng, was arrested and shortly thereafter he died in prison, along with other party members, according to Amnesty International.
And where is the United Nations? Yes, the UN has called for an investigation into the killings. But that is far, far from enough. We need a Security Council resolution ordering Jammeh to stop the murderous atrocities against his own people.
If he fails to comply, the UN should shut down tourism in The Gambia, which earns the country the foreign exchange Jammeh uses to buy arms and ammunitions to suppress and kill his own people. The UN can shut down tourism by instituting a No Fly Zone over The Gambia, immediately stopping tourists from traveling there.
And where are the African leaders, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf included, who herself a few years ago suffered the identical fate and looked to the international community to intervene to stop Samuel Doe and his murderous ethnic gang?
Are these African leaders— ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) – and the UN waiting for the outbreak of another civil war before they DO something?
Where is the United States? Where is the former colonial power, the United Kingdom? Where is the European Union? Most of them are still dishing out aid to The Gambia, pretending to be totally blind to Jammeh’s murderous repression.
Africa and the world must act NOW to avert another civil war in Africa. Burundi is already tottering on the brink of civil war because of the selfishness of one man—Pierre Nkurunziza, whose insatiable greed for power has plunged his country into chaos.
Why? we ask, why are the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union (EU) still doing business with this brutal Gambian dictator? What benefit do the West, China and other nations get from Africa’s instability? Is it that the exploitation of our resources is made easier so long as the continent remains in chaos?
We call first on ECOWAS, the AU and then on the UN and the entire international community to act NOW to stop Jammeh’s murderous dictatorship and avert another conflagration in West Africa.