Friday 25th November 2011, will in the annals of The Gambia’s history, be forever remembered with consternation and utter disbelief as one of our country’s darkest hour; a dark day in which Gambians everywhere descended to the lowest points of our political lives. The shocking results of Gambia’s recently concluded presidential elections are a manifestation of the power of tyranny and the length to which Yahya Jammeh will go to remain in power.
There is hardly a soul that is not surprised by the election results; and even more telling still, hardly anyone who does not think that the results are blatantly fraudulent. In every way, we were all caught in the most devastating surprises of our lives, because no sane Gambian expected the results to be so insanely skewed in favor of Yahya Jammeh’s military regime.
For many months now, Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) party militants have echoed and reechoed the same refrain; that the “AFPRC will win with a landslide”, but many of us took their refrain as a mere dramatization of their political demagoguery, rather than a statement of fact they knew all along.
The certitude with which AFPRC stalwarts carried themselves throughout the electoral season was buttressed by Yahya Jammeh’s own incendiary outbursts of stupidity and callousness in which his emphatic pronouncement that “neither elections nor coup’ can bring down his regime, caught the attention of both Gambians and the international community as indicative of his contempt and disregard for the democratic values of the electoral process.
In hindsight, both Yahya Jammeh and his bloodsucking leaches knew something the rest of us did not. The AFPRC cabal; which includes village alkalos, district chiefs, divisional commissioners, rural area civil servants and the formidable AFPRC machinery has collectively made sure Yahya Jammeh did not lose the elections.
Today, what really happened is still a mystery.
We all know without a shadow of doubt that something egregious happened in these elections, but perhaps only the passage of time will bring the truth out. One day, some of those involved in this biggest electoral sham West Africa ever experienced, will be weighed down by the guilt of their consciences to tell the world the truth. Just as the one of the murderers of Deida Hyrada confessed to Freedom Newspaper, the truth about these fraudulent elections will see the light of day. Meanwhile, as the paralyzing despair and the agony get the better of us, we must remember that no one said it was going to be easy. Yahya Jammeh knows what his loss of political power means; for more than any person, he has the most to lose; which includes either his life or his freedom for the rest of his life.
As incredibly painful and depressing as the situation is for us, we cannot with abandonment continue to wallow in our collective misery; rather let us dust ourselves up again to ready ourselves for the next chapter. ECOWAS’s groundbreaking castigation of Gambia’s electoral process is both a reaffirmation of our storied history under Yahya Jammeh’s tyranny and a high point of the election season, and as a nation we can wrap ourselves in the solace and comfort that their concern has provided us, as we map out the next strategy of dealing with the menace of Yahya Jammeh. For now, UDP’s rejection of the fraudulent election results is a start.
We must begin by delegitimizing the election results and bring pressure to bear on the international community to isolate The Gambia and Yahya Jammeh’s regime. We have a starting point; the regional body which knows best; ECOWAS. Unlike the African Union and the Commonwealth who come to merely observe the logistics of the polling day, ECOWAS is concerned about the entire electoral process, and how the preexisting political climate and culture lends itself or lack thereof, to the conduct of truly free and fair elections process.
PS. As we go to press, The African Union has given, what can only be described a tacitly reserved, if not an outright condemnation of The Gambia’s electoral process. The AU delegates have surprised Gambians, but we thank them for not playing to the infinite power of incumbency in African politics.