Monday, July 22, 2024

Gambia: How Yahya Jammeh orchestrated his imminent return from exile

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Lamin Fadera
Lamin Fadera
Lamin Fadera is a sports journalist based in the Gambia

Gambia’s former leader, Yahya Jammeh has been in exile in Equatorial Guinea since 2017 after he was forced out of the country.

Initially he didn’t want to let go power despite losing the 2016 presidential election to now president, Adama Barrow.

After negotiations led by regional body ECOWAS, Jammeh agreed to go into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

But while in exile Jammeh has carefully orchestrated his imminent return to the country ahead of presidential elections in 2021.

He is reported to be lonely in exile and constantly desiring to return home. That loneliness sparked series of well thought out plan to force his way home on his own terms.

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Leaked WhatsApp audio this month revealed that Yaya Jammeh has been in touch with his supporters constantly.

Jammeh has been encouraging them to push for his return, although he had asked for that to be done in a peaceful way.

He has assured his supporters of his return to the country very soon and that has caused panic within the Barrow administration which is also having issues with the ruling coalition.

Barrow recently launches his own party to enable him seek re-election in 2021, going against an agreement with the ruling coalition that brought him to power.

This has weakened his support nationwide and given Jammeh a way out to push for his return knowing well that he could escape prosecution.

Protests for Jammeh’s return

This week thousands of his sympathizers who are also member of his party APRC stormed the streets to demand his return.

Fabakary Tombong Jatta the interim leader of the Opposition APRC told party supporters during a recent protest rally that ECOWAS, AU and UN must respect and implement a joint declaration agreed on which supports Jammeh’s return to the country.

“Alliance for Patriotic Re-Orientation and Construction (APRC) demands for the  ECOWAS,AU UN and former president Yaya Jammeh joint declarations to be respected and immediately be respected and implemented,”said Fabakary Tombong Jatta.

According to Jatta, the fourteen points agreement with ECOWAS, UN and AU should be respected to avoid chaos in the country.

Mr. Jatta said Jammeh supporters will continue to put pressure to make sure Jammeh is back in the country.

The letter of request for the return of Jammeh has now been handed to the African Union regional office in the Gambia which will be delivered to the ECOWAS headquarters.

But not everyone is happy with the push for Jammeh’s return to the country.

The Gambia Center for victims of Human Rights Violation has expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s decision to allow for Jammeh’s supporters to hold a rally.

In a statement seen by Africa Feeds, the victim center said it is a mockery to the victims and their families and the protest is not done in good faith.

The statement also said considering the fact that the country is going through truth seeking, it is disheartening to see such protest taking place.

“Considering the fact that the Gambia is going through a truth seeking and reconciliation process, the APRC protest demanding the return of former president Yaya Jammeh is a mockery to all victims considering his 22years rule,” the release said.

Government warns Jammeh

The Gambian government has warned the country’s ex-leader Yahya Jammeh against ever planning to return home from exile.

But the government has said that Mr Jammeh’s safety couldn’t be guaranteed if he did return without permission.

A government spokesman, Ebrima Sankareh told the BBC President Barrow never signed any agreement that requires Jammeh returning home from exile.

If he returns without permission, “the Gambian government cannot guarantee his safety and security”, Mr Sankareh told the BBC.

It is yet to be seen how successful Jammeh could be in returning from exile before the next presidential election.

But it is certain that he seems to be succeeding in securing a return, doing so even in exile.




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