A former aide to The Gambia’s outgoing president, who is refusing to step down and now hiring rebel forces says regional military intervention will not be happening in The Gambia.
Lt. Col. Lamin Gano said the believe that many Gambians hold that ECOWAS will use an authorized standby force to enforce the outcome of the West African nation’s December 1 polls is an illusion.
“As for foreign military intervention in The Gambia, this is nothing but a mirage. It is a harmless smoke without a single spark of fire in it,” said Gano.
Ivorian intelligence and West African security experts have confirmed that the defeated Jammeh is recruiting from Charles Taylor fighters to help him thwart international efforts to enforce the will of The Gambian people. Last month, ECOWAS Chair and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Jammeh clinging on to power may destabilize Western Africa.
Yet, Lt. Col. Gano does not believe the current situation in mainland Africa’s smallest nation, does not warrant such intervention.
“It will not happen in our current situation mainly because the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) is not created to enforce domestic election results in its member states. It is created as an intervention/stabilization force most especially in situations of active armed conflict or in cases where there are existential threats of an outbreak of violent armed conflict,” Gano wrote in a blog.
Experts say Gano contradicted himself and is wrong. Gano said: “it is created as an intervention………in cases where there are existential threats of an outbreak of violent armed conflict,” and in The Gambia there is an existential threat of an outbreak of violent armed conflict with Jammeh refusing to step down, reportedly recruiting rebels and declared there will be confrontation and Jammeh will use the military against protesting citizens. Human rights will continue to be violated like in Burundi, hundreds if not thousands may be injured and dead like in Ivory Coast and Yahya Jammeh is an already known rights abuser.
A timely Ecowas military intervention will prevent that human rights abuse putting it in line with the spirit of the UN Charter and conflict prevention. West Africa cannot afford a new war. Armed and financially stable fighters can start breakout wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau like the Tauregs that fought for Ghadaffi started in Northern Mali. Most critically, it can intensify the Casamance crisis and escalate to a full blown war and it will spark a refugee crisis in Northern Senegal and the Guineas. This makes it a point of duty for Senegal and the international community to get rid of a pest.
A former Justice of The Gambia’s Supreme Court wrote in an opinion that an ECOWAS led military intervention would mitigate the loss in human life and property and remains the only plausible option to uphold the election results in the Gambia.
Justice Emmanuel Nkea reminded that the Gambia is a state party to the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (2001), which bears zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means. Most importantly, the Gambia is also a state party to the ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace-keeping and Security (1999) otherwise referred to as ‘The Mechanism’.
“Through the Mediation and Security Council, The Mechanism not only allows for a military intervention into member states but it also explicitly orders this course of action in cases of severe governance problems,” Nkea said.
However, Lt. Col. Gano thinks this: “The Gambia is not in either of these two stages. What we have in our country is simply an internal disagreement over election results with no opposing armed groups pointing guns at each other. Our civilian population is completely unarmed apart from a few old men with hunting rifles manufactured centuries ago.”
The Gambia is on the path to an armed conflict and that cannot be denied. The military is deeply divided and so is the populace. President Yahya Jammeh has in the past and most recently last spring took up arms against unarmed peaceful protesters. Many were wounded and at least two died. Some 17 years ago, more than a dozen students died and tens of them were left injured when Jammeh’s forces opened fire on demonstrators. With Jammeh refusing to go, there will be protests, and what does Gano expect would happen?
Jammeh is allergic to protest and right before the polls, he had warned that protest will not be accepted and will be dealt with. Gambian do not have second amendment rights to bear arms, they will be shoot at by Jammeh’s henchmen in the military.
The point is: Gambia’s historical timeline and the facts say otherwise than what Lt. Col. Gano is trying to preach.