YAHYA JAMMEH GOES INTO EXILE – A LESSON FOR AFRICA DESPOTS

The past several weeks has been a nightmare for West African leaders who were tasked to convince one of their own, to step down as leader of his country.

Few days ago, Yahya Jammeh was the leader of The Gambia, who had lost an election, but disputed the results despite evidence to the contrary.

The former President of The Gambia for 22 years, had lost the election to the opposition leader, Adama Barrow, and initially accepted the results and conceded defeat.

But in a dramatic u-turn, Jammeh refused to step down, claiming irregularities.

Gambians as well as the rest of the world were shocked by the bizarre turn of events.

As is already known, the West African regional body, Economic Commission of West Africa (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), as well as the UN, decided to stand by democratic tenets and were ready to oust the former Gambian leader by force.

ECOWAS member countries rolled tanks and soldiers into Gambia in readiness to uproot the former leader from power, but suspended action, pending the results of negotiations between the former leader and an ECOWAS delegation.

Fortunately, after long and intense negotiations that went past the deadline set for the former leader to relinquish power, ECOWAS announced a breakthrough.

The former President, Jammeh, agreed to step down and has since late Saturday, flown out of The Gambia into exile.

Obviously, his acceptance to step down, paves the way for the newly elected President Barrow, to assume power that would bring an end to the political crisis in The Gambia.

The political moral lesson to be drawn out of The Gambian crisis, is that democracy and rule of law have prevailed in that country.

Thanks to the relentless efforts of former President John Mahama, President Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia, President Mahamadu Buhari of Nigeria and especially, Guinean President, Alpha Conde, and Mauritania’s Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.

In fact, but for their efforts, Jammeh would have stubbornly refused to step down and subsequently plunge the small country into war and bloodshed.

West Africa and the entire African continent must be grateful to our leaders through whose efforts The Gambia was saved from bloodshed.

The protection and restoration of democracy to The Gambia must be the yardstick from now onwards, not only the sub-region, but for the whole of Africa, to resolve its democratic challenges that would confront the continent.

Indeed, democracy has gained root and we must all resolve that henceforth, no African leader would be allowed to cling onto power through undemocratic means.

We must also be each others’ keeper and uphold democratic tenets in each of the African countries.

The despots, who continue to undemocratically perpetuate their rule, must know that their days are numbered, and that the continent can no longer allow them to overstay their welcome in power.

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