15 December 2012

Gambia: President Jammeh's Growing Number of Dissidents in Dakar


Interesting developments are unfolding in the political landscape in Senegal as the new regime of President Macky Sall is trying to grapple with pressing issues concerning the management of the state and its institutions, the economy, demands of the population, officials of the previous government etc.

In order to make do of its election promise, the Sall government has earlier issued a decree aimed at reducing the prices of basic food commodities, although this intervention was not widely heeded to by the economic operators. It has reduced the size of the bloated cabinet inherited from its predecessor and further cuts certain privileges accorded to officials of the state in a drive to make savings for priority intervention areas that directly affect the population. The state has instituted the process of recovering the monies proven to be pilfered by officials of the previous regime during the course of their stewardship. As it is the end of year, government ministers are now busy appearing before the members of the National Assembly to defend the budget estimates of the respective ministries under their charge for the coming year. The Commission for the repatriation of ill-gotten gains has been set up to be under the chairpersonship of the Minister of Justice as the issue of addressing the incidence of illicit enrichment by state officials is dominating public discourse.

During my brief stay in Dakar, I have not only been observing developments that concern Senegal itself but also the sub-region, including The Gambia. It was whilst there that I learnt from two local newspapers about a press conference held by two former cabinet ministers in the government of President Yahya Jammeh on issues concerning the Gambia. According to the media reports, Dr. Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, former Minister of Information, Mr. Bubacarr Baldeh, former Youth Minister in the erstwhile PPP government and former Deputy Youth Mobiliser of the APRC party and Managing Director of the Daily Observer Newspaper, who consider themselves as dissidents are calling for the capture of President Jammeh by his own security forces and handing him over to the people. They also utilised the occasion to talk about the arrest and detention of Imam Baba Leigh and Amie Bensouda and the situation of human rights in the country. The press Conference did not attract the Gambian community in Senegal or the electronic media. May be this was due to lack of publicity. Efforts are being made to monitor whether the trio would like to establish a political party in exile.It is also not clear what connection they have with the security forces to be confident that if they make the call the forces would react accordingly.

Readers would recall that it was also in Dakar that Shiekh Sedia Bayo made his announcement to form a Council comprising 35 members and prepare the ground for an armed insurrection as of 10th November 2012. Efforts are being made to monitor what has happened to the council and its plans.

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