By Dida Halake
This was not unexpected and commentators had suggested that is exactly what would happen. Jammeh had declared that he would “rule for a billion years” and mere poverty stricken voters would not dethrone him.
The so-called “annulment” is not just unlawful, but it is also treason because Jammeh has sworn to defend the Constitution of The Gambia. According to that Constitution, the election can only be annulled by the Gambia Supreme Court on the presentation of a petition by the election loser. At this instance then Jammeh stands as a “rebel” against the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia – and against the lawful President-Elect of The Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow.
From that legitimacy perspective, Senegal’s hurried petition to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) becomes the single significant response to the “annulment”: it is possible that the UNSC will pass a unanimous resolution demanding that “the electoral wishes of the Gambian people in electing Adama Barrow as President be respected”. The resolution will not be vetoed because for once USA, UK, France, Russia and China all agree on this: that Adama Barrow is the President-Elect of The Gambia. The West dislikes Jammeh whereas China and Russia value Senegal as a partner more than they value Jammeh’s Gambia.
Senegal clearly intends to act if Adama Barrow is unable to assume his legitimate Presidency in January 2017. If Senegal decides that it has to act, then it would be doing so with the legitimate aim of installing the President-Elect of the Gambia with the backing of the United Nations Security Council … and the military support of the Western Countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). When that becomes clear to Jammeh, will he still insist on “annulling the election” and clinging onto power? Will the Gambia’s Armed Forces back Jammeh in futile rebellion against the Gambian Constitution, the Gambian Electorate and the might of the International Community (the “International Community” will for once be unanimous and will, for once, be standing on solid legal and moral grounds).
The hope (maybe futile) is that Jammeh will see sense and allow the President-Elect’s Inauguration to take place. It is possible that the so-called “annulment” is a bluff being used as a negotiating tactic to obtain immunity from prosecution for Jammeh and his team once the transition takes place.
If the “annulment” is indeed a bluff, then it might back-fire badly and guarantee the very thing that Jammeh and his team feared once they lose power – arrest and prosecution.
Additionally, a United Nations Security Council vote against Jammeh will ensure that none of the countries where he has his assets, such as Morocco, Mauritania, Qatar and others will offer him sanctuary. Not only that, but a UN vote may also lead to a Global assets freeze.
Much more dangerously for Jammeh and indeed The Gambia, is the fact that the Senegalese, emboldened by a UNSC vote, legitimacy and Western military support, may decide to invade The Gambia to remove Jammeh … in which case Jammeh has to be able to rely on his military 100% – hence this week’s 300-man promotions for soldiers. But even that might not guarantee army loyalty when faced with a suicidal mission against the might of the Senegalese Armed Forces with Western military support (remember the French have a well armed contingent there).
The best outcome of this “Annulment Crisis” would be if Jammeh changes his mind as suddenly as he has changed it in the last 7-days. He started off by conceding the election and congratulating the winner. Now he has taken that back and rejects the election results – after the whole world too has congratulated the winner! It is possible that once the United Nations Security Council considers the matter Jammeh will reflect on his position and allow the President-Elect to assume office. That would be the best outcome for Gambians and the world. Let’s pray.