25 February 2011

Ghaddafi row in The Gambia

afrol News Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh has issued a surprise call for his old ally Moammar Ghaddafi to stop betraying his people and step down immediately. A shocked opposition thinks Mr Jammeh is desperate to avoid riots in The Gambia.
The Gambian government has made the strongest anti-Ghaddafi statement world-wide. A government statement read out on Gambian state television included sharp reactions against the violence used by the Ghaddafi regime against the Libyan population; urged Mr Ghaddafi to step down immediately; and criticised the African Union (AU) for taking no action.

"It is a big surprise, but a shocking reality that in all the happenings, beginning with the crisis in Tunisia to that in Egypt and now Libya and countries in North Africa, the leadership of the African Union neither made a statement nor took action, despite the fact that these were uprisings affecting member states of the African Union," the statement said, lambasting the "unacceptable silence of the AU."

"The fact that the AU has not even called up an emergency meeting of ministers of Foreign Affairs, since the crisis started in Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya, is very worrisome for an institution that is supposed to secure and defend Africa's interest," it added.

On Libya, the Gambian government statement went on: "Given the unacceptable scale of violence in Libya, we hereby call on Colonel Moammar Ghaddafi to spare the lives of Libyans by stepping down immediately. Colonel Ghaddafi has been given early warnings, for the past six years, which he blatantly ignored. Furthermore, not only has he betrayed the trust of the African people, but of his own people by working against them."

"We are appealing to all young Africans not to be used as mercenaries to kill the Libyan people," it went on. "They risk dying without returning home, because what is happening in Libya is an unstoppable revolution."

"Any Gambian that is captured as a mercenary in Libya should not expect any intervention or support from the Gambia government. No noble black African, as a matter of fact, should stand on the side of Ghaddafi after he compared blacks to barbarians, which is an unacceptable insult," it went on.

The unprecedented statement could sound like a dream come true for those protesting in Libya. It is exactly a sharp international reaction like this the wide majority of Libyans is hoping for.

What a paradox, then, that the statement comes from one of Africa's fiercest dictatorships; the most repressive regime in West Africa by far.

Already, the Gambian opposition - mostly based abroad after years of purges against dissident voices - is expressing its shock over the surprise statement, ridiculing President Jammeh's double standards.

The leading exiled Gambian opposition media 'Freedom Newspaper' - all independent media in The Gambia have been shut down - is frowning, saying President Jammeh originally had "copied his style of repression mainly from Ghaddafi." It recalls the ample cooperation and thorough friendship between the two dictators over the years.

President Jammeh indeed has followed the Ghaddafi model since his 1994 military coup, including much of his Green Book ideology.

Opposition sources generally see the surprise statement as a pre-emptive strike to avoid an Egypt-like revolt in The Gambia. By portraying himself as a supporter of the popular uprisings in North Africa, President Jammeh, they claim, wanted to signal that the situation in The Gambia was totally different than in North Africa.

"The people are not fools," 'Freedom Newspaper' noted. The opposition agrees that the same dynamics that caused a popular uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya at any time could start moving in The Gambia. "The regime is fearing this," they agree, insisting there is currently a wave of arrests in The Gambia to prevent dissident voices from organising protests in the country.

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