An international scandal has been unfolding over the past month due to supposedly outgoing President Jammah’s flip-flopping remarks, with even the UN Security Council asking him to respect the democratic vote of the people and step down like he promised. Just yesterday, in fact, the regional military-economic integrational bloc of ECOWAS launched an invasion in order to depose him. However, everything needs to be put into context here because the situation isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.
Yes, Jammah did lose the vote, and yes, he did initially recognize it as having been free and fair, but in the immediate electoral aftermath, presumable President-elect Adama Barrow and his campaign vowed to go on a political witch hunt and imprison Jammah within the next year. Worse still, they even pledged to reverse his decision to withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, or ICC. What this amounts to is essentially a top-to-bottom purge of the Gambian “deep state”, or its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies under the presumed justification of carrying out “international justice” against a former “dictatorial regime”.
It’s thus somewhat understandable why Jammah so abruptly reversed his former position and perceptively seems to have the backing of the military and police as well. The fact remains that they’re interested in self-preservation, and that Barrow’s witch hunt was a politically premature move to declare when he hadn’t even entered into power yet and had chance of carrying it out. He likely did this to please his foreign patrons, which had been waging a concerted infowar against Jammah due to his domestic policies. The clearest indication of unipolar grand strategic connivance against Jammah and the Gambia comes from former US ambassador to Senegal and Gambia and former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Herman J. Cohen, who penned an op-ed at allafrica.com titled “Gambia: A message to the Gambia – Build that Bridge.” Former diplomats are usually much more candid than presently serving ones are and thus tend to directly say what the US wants as opposed to ‘diplomatically’ beating around the bush.
Former Ambassador Cohen said that “several African nations have suffered from psycopathic regimes during the past five decades, but the Jammeh dictatorship has assuredly been the worst“. One of the steps that he suggests Barrow’s new government take in rebuilding the country is to, ironically enough, dismantle it through what he says should be “the re-establishment of a confederation between the two nations [meaning with Senegal], including a joint military and a federal parliament.” The former diplomat is surprisingly undiplomatic by characterizing Gambia’s decision to pull out of that former arrangement as a “stupid mistake.” So what we can surmise from all of this lobbying and the ongoing post-election political crisis in Gambia is that the US wants Barrow to purge Jammah and all of his institutional supporters out of the country under the cover of the ICC in order for the country’s sovereignty to be ceded to Senegal under a so-called “confederation”.