Gambia: Deal with Jammeh angers Barrow’s supporters
23 Jan 2017 - 10:00
BANJUL, Gambia: Several terms of the agreement West African leaders have reached with Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh have angered the supporters of President Adama Barrow.
Jammeh left Gambia late Saturday after agreeing to relinquish power earlier in the day, bringing an end to a political crisis that gripped the country since his election defeat last month.
“The agreement essentially says there can be no prosecution against Jammeh, his family or his entourage; there will be no seizure of his assets, no witch-hunts, and he can come back to the country at any time," Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) chair Marcel Alain de Souza told journalists in Senegal on Saturday.
Several of Barrow’s supporters consider the deal to be outrageous. Jammeh, critics say, has shipped numerous luxurious cars and other belongings in a cargo plane which reportedly took off from Banjul International Airport, though such claims cannot be independently verified by Anadolu Agency.
A Gambian political commentator, Essa Njie, told Anadolu that the ECOWAS deal with Jammeh is “just a draft, meaning ECOWAS has to work with the government of Gambia to properly look into the deal”.
“No matter what, Jammeh has to face justice because failure [for that to happen is] a threat to peace,” Njie added.
Sidi Sanneh, a Gambia political analyst and blogger who once served as cabinet minister, told Anadolu Agency: “If the deal contained in the Joint Declaration of ECOWAS, the African Union and the UN is true, the deal is not a very good one”.
Sanneh argues that while the deal allows Jammeh to depart with riches he allegedly acquired illegally or through corruption, there exists legal means for Gambia to seek redress in the courts.
A senior member of Barrow’s team, Mai Ahmed Fatty, who is currently with him in Senegal, has told supporters of the former estate businessman that the deal with Jammeh had yet to be signed.
He however acknowledged that the anger of their supporters were justifiable.
“Understandably overwhelming a number of our citizens are very angry for three reasons: (1) allowing Jammeh to 'escape' (2) allowing Jammeh to export his 'loot' (3) 'signing' an impunity deal with Jammeh. For many, Jammeh is the winner and we let him get away with everything after taking the country hostage and driving us to the wire,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“We did not participate in any forum where the 'Joint Declaration' was discussed. We only knew of its existence when it was made available to us yesterday afternoon [Saturday] by the Senegalese side. The president rejected it outright and communicated the same to President [Macky] Sall of Senegal and Marcel [Alain de Souza], head of ECOWAS.”
However, Madi Jobarteh, a human rights activists and a regular Jammeh critic had a different point of view view
“On the content of this declaration, my view is that it is in favor of the government and the Gambian people. The declaration has not placed any obstacles on the government from doing what it should do to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Gambians or pursue and protect national interest,” Madi told Anadolu.
He added that the declaration instead recognized that “Yahya Jammeh has rights and those rights must be respected and protected”.
President Barrow has always maintained that he has no desire to prosecute Jammeh andhas always emphasized “reconciliation”.