Jammeh’s Friday Address: What Difference Will It Make?


By: Bakary Gassama 

It is barely two months for Gambians to go to polls to chose a desired President for the next five years. This year’s presidential election is presumed to be tightly contested than ever before, as more and more political parties continue to emerge. At least the unprecedented surge in political parties heralds that The Gambia is on the trajectory to embracing multiple party democracy. Though it comes along with its ramifications for fledgling democracies like ours.

It could be vividly recalled that Gambians at home and abroad booted out 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s despotic rule in 2016 Presidential race. Jammeh was defeated by incumbent President Adama Barrow, the Coalition standard-bearer with a margin of eighteen thousand plus votes. That election was marred with a acute voter apathy; I think over three hundred thousands votes uncast. Reasons for this still remains mysterious.

Of recent, Gambians and the world have seen firsthand where a sitting President pleads to go into a merger with a party in the opposition. It’s taken so many Gambians aback as well as the international community. The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) entered into coalition with the APRC, the party of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. This marriage is seen by critics of Adama Barrow as insulting and affrontry to victims of Jammeh’s repressive regime. Does this call of concern worry President Barrow? Certainly even an atom of remorse or regret has not been shown by the rather desperate NPP leader.

As an avid reader of local newspapers on a quotidian basis, I stumbled on a front page news headline in The Standard Newspaper October 11 publication that the erstwhile exiled President Jammeh who is seeking refuge in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, will on Friday 15th October, 2021 address his already embattled and polarized APRC in a rally that will be organized by party’s splinter group in his native Kanilai, a group that continues to put up stiff resistance to NPP-APRC merger. Apparently, if this claim by the APRC splinter is anything to go by, it will be Jammeh’s first ever public address since he left power for Malabo. It will be perceived as breaking the glass. What difference will Yahya Jammeh’s speech going to make in an already consummated marriage? Certainly, if he speaks on this day, he will either strengthen the NPP-APRC coalition or throw his weight on the party’s resistant group that enchants the slogan “No Coalition” all this while. Whatever happens it is going to drag the party deep in the mud and futrther polarize the party. In fact, it could result in the demise of the party, if care is not taken. Because either of the two groups will not possibly surrender to the other. To save the party for at least the next five or ten years, Jammeh should rather keep mute. That in itself will deliver no good to the party. But, it is necessary!

In a nutshell, the situation in APRC is dire and worrisome, because it could not even sustain itself independently for at least five years after their reign in 2016. What went wrong? Perhaps the Executive of the party who submersed in NPP would claim that they are in severe financial quagmire due to the forfeiture of their bank accounts. Is that justification sufficient to advance for a merger to a party that ended their government? It’s our believe that there is more to APRC gradual demise as the party continues to disintegrate among itself. The internal party matter is more convoluted that it will be prudent for Jammeh to remain in silence to save his party as we are in a rather crucial stage of our polity.

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
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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