By Alhagie Jobe
Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh is absent from attending the ongoing 27th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Governments Summit at the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Neither President Jammeh, nor a representative is attending the summit on behalf of The Gambia as indicated in this official group photo, as the space marked for The Gambia in front row right, (Between where Ugandan President Museveni is standing and Liberian President Johnson Sireleaf) is empty. It is not clear why Jammeh decided to leave Gambians in the dark and failing to attend or send a representative to such a very crucial continental engagement.
The theme of the two-day summit is; “2016: African Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women”, but African leaders are largely expected to discuss a wide range of topics particularly peace and security, in the wake of a deadly violence that erupted in South Sudan between forces royal to two rivaling political camps.
Mr Jammeh who has since had several disagreement with regional and continental bodies does not only frequently absent himself from the African Union Summits but also ECOWAS summits, the recent of which was held in the Senegalese capital at a moment when The Gambia and Senegal where in a border crisis and poor relations. He publicly branded sub-regional bodies like ECOWAS, as a western-controlled body especially when they boycotted to observe the last Presidential elections in The Gambia.
Many believed Mr Jammeh is also careful of frequently traveling outside of The Gambia for he is afraid of a military takeover. Most of the past attempted coups against Mr Jammeh’s regime in The Gambia took place in his absence, the latest of which was the December 2014 failed takeover.