Never Go To Bed With a Dictator, Lessons for Barrow

Ex Gambian Leader, Yahya Jammeh . credit photograph: ©Jason Florio – all rights reserved

By: Hatab Fadera 

The saying that dictators will never change is constantly being manifested by Yahya Jammeh. That is because all dictators share similar traits – corrupted souls, sadistic tendencies, lack of empathy, and an insatiable taste for power, wealth and dominance.
At a mere phone call, Jammeh, a political fugitive, summarily dethroned a war-hardened APRC National Executive members, who for the past five years, beat his drum of supremacy (Supreme Leader) and quest for his amnesty. Let’s be clear: Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his team have contributed in allowing impunity to be entrenched in this country. Even the harrowing revelations from the TRRC and the J Commissiom documented heist of Jammeh, did not move this executive. For them Jammeh was a demigod.
But back to the issue. Fabakary, visibly struggling with ill-health, guided his team in pushing for Jammeh’s interest, along the way being littered with all the dirts (and deservedly so) that came out of the EG lone man’s 22-year rule of decadence. They sang his praise, danced his tunes, and invested colossal resources to remaking his irreparable battered image and repute. Dodou Jah must be bitting his tongue for that young man did an excellent but fruitless and causeless job in defending APRC and Jammeh.
Yet, the dictator came straight on point, effectively staging a coup and handing down a political verdict that reaffirmed him the “Supreme Leader” and “Flagbearer” ( Fodeh Baldeh will argue it’s standard bearer) of his party. The traits for a dictator’s insatiable taste for power and dominance are demonstrated here.
For months, Jammeh joyfully and selfishly played his cards well, allowing his ardent loyalists to engage in a dirty political war over where his stance was vis-a-vis the alliance with Barrow’s NPP.
How Jammeh played his card in this has been dramatic. First, he gave a tacit endorsement of this unholy APRC-NPP political marriage by deciding to stay mute. By doing so, Jammeh gave a firm node to the Tombong Jatta-led camp that he was okay with the arrangements. This allowed him time to weigh the pros and cons of the deal, especially the genuiness of the Barrow camp.
Hatab Fadera, Journalist

While keeping that card, Jammeh engaged himself in discreet communication with the rival “No Alliance Movement” (NAM), giving them the impression that he didn’t sanction the alliance and will speak close to the elections. By watching the two camps locked horns, the sadist was buying himself time to make up his mind.

Fast-forward to the recent supposedly Meet the Farmers Tour (Barrow has since mastered Jammeh’s art in turning it into a political wastage), Jammeh must have seen that as an opportunity to make up his mind. With Barrow falling short on what actually would happen to Jammeh and occasionally referring to his reign as a dictatorship in his addresses, that must have been the red line for the butcher. Keep in mind that Barrow recently told reporters that he alone would not deliver amnesty to Jammeh. All of these inconsistencies, plus Barrow’s bad reputation of keeping his promises (“When you are campaigning you can say whatever you want”), Jammeh must have concluded that it would be a political suicide to climb the same “kaaba tree” with Barrow, an unsophisticated and untrustworthy political liability.
But I had cautioned Barrow when he formed the alliance with Jammeh. I mentioned that had Barrow adhered to the simplest demands of Gambians – give us a progressive constitution, reform and strengthen democratic institutions, pursue unconditional justice for the victims etc – he would have made his re-election easier. When Gambians voted him in 2016, they had hoped for a new path without Jammeh, a modest and vibrant democratic dispensation where justice will be vigorously and relentlessly pursued for the victims. By going to bed with a dictator, Barrow has only himself to blame. I hope he learns from this. Too much is too bad. Lessons learnt.
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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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