Yayha Jammeh, his supporters and his possible return! 

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh arrives at the airport before flying into exile from Gambia, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon
Article contributed by:  Abdou Sarah Janha, former Secretary General 
We should not forget that Yaya Jammeh as one individual, could not have exercised the power he wielded over the Gambian population without supporting specific groups of people.  In the context of the Gambia, Jammeh’s control over the Gambian people was only possible because he had the support of the army, MFDC and his social base. History has shown that groups that support despots to oppress other groups have to be internally cohesive. The military and Jammeh’s social base have that characteristic.  These two groups still exist, strengthened and organised. 
Jammeh used violence, manipulation of the law and intimidation to keep down dissident groups and bestow rich rewards to some in his support base. The atrocities committed by his supporters are well documented. Yet even after he became powerless, a sizable number of his social support base remained loyal to him. To the dismay of many observers, the government allowed Jammeh’s political party to continue to operate. The leadership of this support group have not shown any remorse for their past actions, which led to many atrocities well-documented thanks to the TRRC. 
They have instead become more loud and confident, savouring the role of kingmakers in the December Presidential elections. The group has become an integral part of the government in control of the National Assembly, holding important ministerial and security positions.
I do not know how far and how deeply the army has changed in the context of the security sector reform (SSR), which is donor funded. Experience over time shows that many of these programmes ended up being ” train and equip” programmes and other essential issues like human security and good governance etc., sidelined. The SSR programmes are hardly based on local needs.
The Gambia cannot afford a return to what happened in past years of Jammeh’s rule, rampant corruption, destruction of our institutions, the norms and culture of the society and total disregard of the rule of law, the lost decades as described by some people.
I am not confident that we have escaped from the nightmare of the Jammeh years. Jammeh’s allies are in power. 
The structures and loyalties  Jammeh relied upon are still intact, as indicated earlier. The  APRC could ask to begin with for Jammeh’s return and his safety and security guaranteed. The ruling NPP government could be tempted to agree to such a request as a price worth paying to keep its political alliance with the APRC. 
Once that door gets opened, what follows is left to everyone’s imagination. The scenario I painted is not far-fetched, and we should not be under the illusion that the international community would intervene to stop this development. 
I do not want to be seen as a prophet of doom, but the political scene in The Gambia is unsettling in many ways. It is, therefore, essential for the government to reassure the nation and reiterate its strong commitment to the implementation of the TRRC recommendations without delay and keep the public informed of the state of the implementation process.
Before signing off, we should ask ourselves this question often,  – what is the point of being a Gambian? An intriguing question for my young friends to explore,  Watch this space.
If you are still reading this, you must have found it interesting, and please visit the Facebook Page “Open Gambia” Gambian Platform for National Dialogue. Like, follow and share our stories. 
Article contributed by:  Abdou Sarah Janha,  former Secretary General 


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