The fugitive exiled former President Yahya Jammeh broke the long silence at yesterday’s rally in Kanilai held by APRC splinter group on Friday 15th October, 2021. His much anticipated telephone address to APRC resistant group showed a fragrant disapproval of APRC’s alliance with NPP. The speech was his first ever public address since he left the shores for Equatorial Guinea in January 2017. The man still wields and exerts power and domination in the embattled APRC.

In the hindsight, one would have thought that Jammeh’s despotic trait would have by now dissipated on account of the passage of time. But hell no! We have discerned that dictatorial disposition in his tone of voice and manner of speech in that telephone address commanding blind supporters what to do or what not to do. Without prejudice that behavior is typical of Gambian political party leaders.

Apparently, the whole world have heard him on phone yet again exercising overbearing power to dissolve and appoint a new Executive Body for the deeply divided APRC. Such political decision reveals the true nature of APRC. And this characteristic of one man owning a party that belongs to all depicts our political system as a nation. It is true that most parties in The Gambia are built around one individual and the rest are merely followers and supporters. This concept and belief is flawed and must be shunned by all and sundry for the sustenance of our multi-party democracy. If not, once the leaders are no more, a sharp internal rift will ensue and subsequent demise of parties in their sequential order, just like the one we continue to see in APRC.

It’s befuddling and rather obscure to hear Jammeh still calling himself the Supreme Leader, party leader and flag bearer of APRC. Again it shows that something has gone amiss with APRC. Frankly speaking, this can beat anyone’s imagination hard. Unless I am wrong, under the current electoral laws of the Gambia, Jammeh cannot vote nor can he be voted for. So it’s possible to assume a party’s flag bearership from afar, knowing that he is not entitled to partake in this year’s elections? But again, whoever knows him will relate to the fact that deception and self-aggrandizement are typical of him. He showed up in the telephone call in no different way from his old self. Characters don’t change overnight. I wonder if it will ever change with Jammeh. That is insignificant to discuss though because it’s personal. However, fundamentally, what needs clarity is that can APRC contest in 2021 elections with two separate Executive Bodies?

For critics of Jammeh’s address, the Friday open pronouncement made by Jammeh ordering his diehards to throw their waning weight behind GANU is in itself costly and dangerous to the future of the Party. It portents a gloomy future for APRC. One would have really expected a speech of unification from Jammeh that would bring lasting unity and breed understanding among the party members. His decision for APRC to coalesce with GANU is untimely for an already polarized and struggling party. It might be extremely difficult to make any difference with Sheikh Tijan Hydara’s GANU Party. Certainly no much significance is anticipated, giving the inexperienced and unpopular nature of GANU in Gambian politics. We could read between the lines of his speech that he disapproved the alliance with NPP because of HE. Barrow’s inability to lead the country desirably.

Focus is now on the political relationship between Adama Barrow and Fabakary Tombo Jatta-led Executive. What does Jammeh’s disapproval of NPP-APRC coalition mean to the relationship – sour or strengthening? Jammeh’s decision has literally stuck a dagger in the chest of NPP and came as a surprise to many. By all indications Barrow must in one way or the other feel disappointed in Fabakary Tombo Jatta and the rest of his Executive for what played out. Will he forgive them and move on with another ploy of winning the December polls? Well the answer to this question is hard to guess. But what is clear in the whole episode of the drama is the expected large number of supporters promised by APRC to NPP now becomes a mirage. Hopes are dashed! Expectations dwindling! What then could NPP do to regain the hope and confidence going into the polls in this eleventh hour? Perhaps very little. Henceforth whatever decision to be taken by Barrow, if not well calculated, may have even more dangerous ripple effect on the NPP.

Finally, it is of interest to Gambians to know how Barrow will end up with Fabakary Tombong Jatta and members of his executive amidst this brouhaha. Will Barrow indict them for false promise/deception or he will resign to faith and move along with them to the elections? Fingers are crossed while anxiously looking forward to hearing Barrow’s take on this matter or that of his frontline lieutenants.

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.


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