08 March 2011

Yahya Jammeh: the last vestige of dictators in West Africa

Written by Joseph Sherman
Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994. The tiny West African nation’s citizens have grown familiar with the unpredictable exploits of its absolute ruler, who insists on being called His Excellency President Professor Dr. Al-Haji Yahya Jammeh.
He is known not only for his herbs-and-banana cure for AIDS but also his threat to behead gays and his mandate that he alone may drive through the giant arch commemorating his coup in the moldering capital, Banjul. Not to mention the documented disappearances, torture and imprisonment of dozens of journalists and political opponents
Even in the often brutal context of his 15-year dictatorship, the roundups of 2009 stand out, the president’s few open critics in Gambia say. Since the 1994 coup that brought him to power, at least 27 journalists have fled the country. One was murdered and another has not been seen since his arrest by the dreaded National Intelligence Agency. Others have described prolonged torture by electric shock and the use of knives and lighted cigarettes in Mr. Jammeh’s jails.
In early 2009, Mr. Jammeh apparently became concerned about witches in this country of mango trees, tropical scrub, dirt roads, innumerable police checkpoints and Atlantic coastline frequented by sun-seeking European tourists mostly unaware of the activities at nearby Mile 2 State Central Prison, where many opponents of the regime are taken
Leaders like Yahya Jammeh need to get over short-term interests – which is driven by greed, fear and insecurity, which has long hindered Africa to take the trip with the political instability. Non-Africans dominate the debate today on Africa’s future. It is time that Africa makes its voice heard, the real citizens take a step forward and dare to take a bigger leap for Africa future. This will be very difficult when the current leaders not want to lose power and their stranglehold over the country. It may be tough but Africans themselves know that the foundation of poverty in Africa still exist is in the corrupt politics.
A new system of governance that recognizes all ethnic groups, social justice and women must be respected and allowed to take place as a leader. Science, Technology and Innovation have to come into Africa. Military coups must stop.  African Unity (AU) must be stronger and emerge as the role of the military groups and to corrupt leaders in place. For this, strong men and women come forward and resist the old corrupt Africa and convey the vision of a better Africa.
Mr. Jammeh came to power as part of a military junta, overthrowing a democratically elected government in a bloodless coup. As president, he has won every election. Vowing to root out corruption when he began his rule, Mr. Jammeh is now accused of participation in it. It is high time he quits and allows democratic governance to take place in Gambia.

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