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Jemmeh: Here's Your Hat. The Plane is Waiting Jemmeh: Here's Your Hat. The Plane is Waiting
by Rene Wadlow
2017-01-23 09:32:15
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An update to the article “Gambia: The Cry of the Imburi” by Rene Wadlow
published on the 21st January 2017.

Yanya Jemmeh, the former President of Gambia chose the wiser course of action and left Gambia on Saturday, 20 January 2017 at 9.15 PM local time with his wife Zineb and the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde who had been negotiating the departure on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He was wearing his trademark white cap and said that only God would judge him.

ovicover_21_01_17_400Senegal troops, mandated by ECOWAS, had already crossed the frontier of Gambia, although they said that their aim was to protect the people and not to bring about political change.  There was, nevertheless, a potential for violence either in opposition to the Senegalese troops or among supporters and opponents to Jammeh.

It is likely that the situation will remain relatively calm as people await the return to Gambia of Adama Barrow, who had taken the oath of office of President in the Gambian Embassy in Dakar on Friday 19n January 2017.  Barrow had left Gambia fearing for his life as Jemmeh has a reputation of “disappearing” his opponents during his 22 years of rule.  With Barrow's return, the real work of socio-economic development can start.

As noted in my earlier Ovi article, Gambia is a creation of colonial history. The English came up the Gambia River first for the slave trade. After 1807 when the slave trade was banned north of the equator, there was a shift to other forms of trade. In the late 1860s the English started to set up an administration while the French were doing the same thing in what is now Senegal.  Thus Gambia is bounded on both sides by Senegal and the Gambian population of about one and a half million have ethnic links with groups in Senegal.

Gambia is heavily dependent on the Senegal, and a good number of Gambians work in Senegal.  As Gambia has few resources beyond a subsistence agriculture and some export of peanuts, the country has become a transit area for drugs coming from Latin America destined for Europe. Gangs involved in the drug trade have also been involved in the arms trade.  Since nothing in the small country escaped the eyes of Jammeh, it is most likely that he took his cut of the drug profits and placed his money outside of Gambia.

Press reports indicate that Jammeh and his wife quickly left Guinea for Equatorial Guinea, set between Cameroon and Gabon, also ruled by long-time and brutal dictator Obiang Nguema. Jemmeh is in no danger of a trial.

In looking at the statistical tables of the UN Conference on Trade and Development's Least Developed Countries Reports, the Gambian economy has been flat since Jammeh took power – the drug and arms trade are not part of the figures.  In addition the education and health sectors have been “weak” at best.

There have been since the independence of Senegal in 1960 proposals for the integration perhaps in the form of a con-federation.  For lack of a political will, such a con-federation has never been created. Rather we have a week integration of the Gambian economy into that of Senegal with no corresponding government structures.

It is too early to know what the future will hold. Armed violence is most probably avoided. But we must still keep an eye open to see if the new government is able to meet the new economic challenges.

 *****************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


       
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