For almost two weeks now, The Gambia has been on international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. First was the President’s repulsive statement to slit the throat of homosexuals….a worrying demonstration by a leader who continually threatens violence against defenseless Gambians without recourse to the rule of law. Then came the expulsion of the EU Representative to The Gambia Ms. Agnes Guillaud, who was given 72 hours to leave the country. As if these were not enough, news started coming in just a few days ago that a private company (West African Aquaculture), engaged in inland fish farming, has been seized or expropriated.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) see these and many other dastardly actions of Yahya Jammeh and his regime as part of the worrying deterioration of the broader human rights situation in the Gambia as well as signals of weakening business climate in The Gambia – all of which are inimical to supporting the restoration of donor and investor confidence in the country. In a world where no country can claim to be an island, this is rather worrisome to all those who cherish national pride and wisdom.
The UDP is particularly shocked by the expulsion of Ms. Agnes Guillaud as EU Representative to The Gambia. We view this decision by the government as unnecessary, ill-advised, and an amateurish diplomatic behaviour by a leadership who still runs The Gambia synonymously as an angry, rag-tag, and failed barracks-commander.
The European Union has been one of the largest donor partners of the Gambia, providing over $72 million dollars in subsidies alone, from 2008 to 2013, quite apart from the provision of significant resources for the country’s infrastructural development. By expelling their diplomatic Representative without going through the normal due diligence procedures is very likely to have adverse consequences on the Gambia as a nation.
All throughout The Gambia’s development history, the EU has been instrumental in the sustenance and viability of countless projects supportive of The Gambia’s socio-economic development. For a very long time, quite apart from the development finance wing of the EU (the European Development Fund (EDF)), other major development-support organizations (NGOs alike) have been securing their funding from the EU to provide educational, infrastructural, medical, agricultural and social safety net support to The Gambian people. These institutional and charitable services rendered – with thanks to EU complementary financial support – continue to be catalysts for enhancing the quality of life for many people in the Gambia.
It is against this backdrop that the UDP view the dramatic expulsion of Ms. Guillaud as lacking in courtesy and reason, as well as a show of ungratefulness at the very least.
But for far too long, the EU’s quiet diplomacy over the years had given President Yahya Jammeh and his government ample ammunition to get away with a series of erratic and unreasonable behaviour, including denying detained EU nationals consular assistance, seizing and annexing private companies belonging to EU nationals (Alimenta, and most recently West African Aquaculture), coupled with his regular issuance of rhetoric threats against the EU. Now if there is anything, the expulsion of Ms. Guillaud should serve as a red alter to the EU that The Gambian President has crossed all reasonable boundaries of orderly diplomatic protocol.
The foundation of Jammeh’s politics is itself based on pretence, otherwise called reluctant-democracy. It is the state of being pressed by the international community, public opinion, negative publicity into conceding to its artificialities while loathing it profoundly. Jammeh loves the display of the façade of democracy as much as he hates its essence, pretending to be committed to it while despising it thoroughly
As I concluded my political tour of the Greater Banjul Area, we are reminded of the all-too-familiar story of enforced disappearance of innocent people under state custody, exercise of widespread brutality on and torture of suspects and perceived political opponents. All throughout my political tour, I have made an uncompromising case for The Gambia government to release the minors and parents of the 30th December 2014 alleged ‘coupists’. It is against natural justice to hold a sibling or parent of an accused to account for the alleged crime of his or her immediate relative. We will continue to demand for the release of these innocent people, and we will not rest until they are finally reunited with their families.
Please repeat after me “THE EXPULSION OF MS. AGNES GUILLAUD, EU REP TO THE GAMBIA, NOT IN OUR NAMES
For the next one week, I want you the good people of The Gambia to upload this positing on our respective social media.
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to wish The Gambian people, friends of The Gambia and the entire Muslim Ummah RAMADAN MUBARAK
Long Live The United Democratic Party
Long Live The Republic of The Gambia
Ousainu A. N. M. Darboe
Secretary General & Party Leader