|Jammeh walking out of a polling station in 2011|
(By Sidi Sanneh) Yaya Jammeh’s current tour of the provinces is characterized by hauling insults at the opposition by referring to them as vermin and threatening to killing opposition members and burying them 9 feet deep.
His venom was not reserved only for the political class but for anyone who dares challenge his authority, be they protesters demanding electoral reform or ordinary Gambians of different political hue from the dictator’s.
Jammeh dislikes anyone with a different political viewpoint or challenges his infallibility as the absolute rule of Africa’s tiniest country in continental Africa.
Drawing from his a la cart menu of recriminations, he selected one of his favorite boogieman – Britain – who has built no primary secondary schools in a country they colonized for over 400 years, according to the Gambian dictator.
Jammeh blames Britain for conniving with the United States to try bring down his regime by pushing the LGBT agenda in his newly-created Islamic Republic by presidential fiat even though the Gambian Constitution clearly states in the preamble that The Gambia is a Secular Sovereign Republic.
His threats to the opposition and to opposition supporters whom he threatens to make them “disappear without trace for 7 million years” have been widely reported on. Indeed, his reference to making people disappear forever is thought in some quarters as confirming that Solo Sandeng, the opposition party youth leader, has died from his torture wounds he sustained at the hands of Jammeh’s torture team.
Conspicuously absent from the dictator’s routine and stump speeches is the topic of the border closure which threatens his regime by promising to further deepen the economic crisis with crippling effect. The border closure has dominated the news for three months but you will not be able to tell by listening to Jammeh on the tour.
On a similar trip last year, Jammeh used to occasion to berate Senegal’s former presidents, from Leopold Senghore to Macky Sall whom he referred to as a lackey of president Francois Hollande of France and how Senegal is still an outpost of France despite claiming to be an independent state.
The reaction of ordinary Senegalese, and especially the Senegalese media was highly critical of the Gambian dictator’s remarks who, until then, enjoyed relative harmonious relations with the media and enjoyed a relative high degree of public approval despite his dictatorial rule and human rights abuses. Since his Farrafenni speech last year, the Senegalese media have unleashed an unrelenting onslaught on Jammeh.
Hardly a day goes by without Senegalese comedians spoofing Jammeh who is usually portrayed as a comic character. Hard news coverage by Senegalese radio and online websites have increased exponentially. The border closure in its third month has also been covered expensively with Jammeh blamed for the closure by increasing the TransGambia tariff by 10,000% unilaterally and without prior notification of Senegal.
The outcome of negotiations conducted early in the week was inconclusive. The next round is scheduled to resume at end July which means that the b order is likely to stay close until then. Meanwhile, in the Gambia, government revenues are down and so is development assistance, adding further pressure on Jammeh.
Instead of leveling with the people by discussing the pressing issues facing his regime, he elects to threaten the opposition instead. It is easier for Jammeh to avoid dealing with hard choices of governing which is to be expected being the ill-prepared and incompetent person he is.