Keenly waiting for former President Yahya Jammeh’s Interview by Senegalese reporter Mr. Pape Sane

Jun 25, 2024, 2:51 PM | Article By: Lt. Col. Samsudeen Sarr (Rtd.), former Commander of The GNA

A Senegalese reporter, Mr. Pape Sane’ (Pap Sanneh), has made an interesting revelation about his recent interview with former President Yahya Jammeh in Equatorial Guinea. Details of this interview will be published on the fifth or sixth of July in a Senegalese news magazine called Atlantic Magazine, which is about three weeks from now. Based on the snippet he shared on a Senegalese talk show platform, Sane’s account of the interview is fraught with inaccuracies and assumptions.

Sane reported that when asked about his activities and opinions on Gambian politics, Jammeh mentioned that his departure from The Gambia in 2017 was facilitated by a binding accord he signed with the UN, AU, and ECOWAS. According to Jammeh, this accord required him to leave the country for four years and abstain from Gambian politics to allow President Adama Barrow to govern without interference. Jammeh believes that the three international organizations somehow betrayed this accord, although he continued to respect his commitment. He blamed former President Sall for his political woes, despite having supported and funded Sall to dethrone Wade in 2012. Nevertheless, Jammeh feels consoled that his departure was more dignified than that of President Sall; although the evidence by the footages still accessible on social media illustrates diverse viewpoints.

Furthermore, Jammeh recounted that before the 2021 presidential election, an African Head of as State visited him in Malibu with a proposal from President Adama Barrow, who was seeking the support of Jammeh's Party (the APRC) for his re-election campaign. Jammeh stated that he had no objection to the idea since it was all about democracy; however, he explained that, being out of the country with limited influence over party operations, the negotiation should be handled by the Party’s Secretary General, Fabakary Tombong Jatta.

From this, Sane’ concluded that since Fabakary Tombong Jatta eventually led the APRC party coalition with Barrow’s NPP in 2021, resulting in President Barrow’s victory and the subsequent appointment of Fabakary Tombong Jatta as Speaker of The Gambia National Assembly, it is evident that Jammeh and Barrow have since been working together amicably. What an inaccurate prognosis! To further support his argument, Sane referred to “special visitations” made by President Barrow to Jammeh’s family, which are frequently reciprocated by Jammeh’s family members to Barrow at the State House, with the latest visit being around July 16th during the Tobaski feast.

He further mentioned how Barrow and his government, despite international demands for Jammeh’s prosecution, have recently passed a bill, ratified by the National Assembly, to ensure that all former retired Gambian Presidents, like the late Sir Dawda Jawara, will be accorded dignified retirement treatment. This includes a decent allowance, free lodging, adequate transportation, state-provided security, and all essentials for a post-presidency lifestyle. However, Sane’ missed the point that it is Barrow’s government, not the international community, that is bent on prosecuting Jammeh.

Sane’ doesn’t believe that the Constitution of The Gambia allows for Jammeh to be tried as demanded by “international quarters”, who suggest establishing a hybrid court somewhere in Africa “far from The Gambia.” When asked when Jammeh might return to The Gambia, Sane’ was vague but insisted that he doesn’t think President Adama Barrow will seek a third term in 2026 for two main reasons. First, Barrow’s inspiration to stay in power originated directly from former President Macky Sall and his government; since Sall is no longer in power, Barrow’s strength to remain President is seriously weakened. Second, given the presence of Senegalese forces in The Gambia since 2017 and the vital security they provide for Barrow and his government, their sudden withdrawal by President Diomaye Faye could force Barrow to resign due to his total reliance on them for national security.

Based on my assessment, it seems Mr. Sane’ was either misinformed by Jammeh about the ongoing events in the country or he misunderstood Jammeh's account. I question why and how Jammeh did not inform him that, after authorizing the Fabakary Tombong Jatta-led APRC to ally with Barrow’s NPP in 2021 for prudential reasons, he later denounced the alliance before the elections, claiming he had not authorized it. This denunciation split the APRC into two rival factions: one under Jammeh's leadership called the No-To-Alliance APRC, and the other, led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta, registered with the IEC.

How do I know this? Since 2020, I have been an active, coopted, and ceremonial member of the APRC Executive, and I was part of the negotiating team for the MOU that formed the NPP-APRC Coalition before the 2021 elections. Our team comprised about five members from the APRC and five from the NPP. I vividly recall and regret the day when Jammeh, after initially approving the coalition process, mobilized his breakaway group in Kaninlai and, through a telephone call from Equatorial Guinea, denied ever authorizing Fabakary and his team to join the NPP. Why, then, did Jammeh tell Sane’ that he authorized the coalition of the party’s free will due to his agreement with the UN, AU, and ECOWAS, which forbade him from meddling in The Gambia’s internal politics for four years?

Additionally, there is little to no substance in Sane’s assertion that Jammeh and Barrow are still working amicably together. His conclusion, based on visits from Jammeh’s family members before the 2021 elections and their occasional visits to the Statehouse to meet Barrow, is totally flawed. Jammeh’s family members are likely divided between those supporting Fabakary and those against him, who take directives from Equatorial Guinea.

It is challenging to accept Mr. Sane's assertion that Barrow’s confidence and ability to govern since 2017 has been entirely dependent on former President Macky Sall’s Government. His insinuation that the NPP Government cannot continue governing without the presence of Senegalese forces deployed to "protect Barrow" since 2017 seems like an affront to the competence and loyalty of The Gambia’s security forces. These forces have consistently upheld their duty as the primary protectors of the nation's sovereignty against both internal and external threats—a principle repeatedly affirmed by serving members of the armed forces.

Furthermore, for Pape Sane’ to claim that President Barrow would immediately resign if President Diomaye Faye withdrew the Senegalese troops deployed by Macky Sall (not ECOWAS) is utterly absurd. Does he not realize that just last week, ECOWAS announced it would send over 190 Nigerian troops to reinforce peacekeeping efforts in The Gambia under ECOMIG? ECOMIG’s mandate is to remain in the country until The Gambia completes its Security-Sector Reforms, which are still on an indefinite timetable. Until then, ECOMIG is expected to continue providing security, with or without the participation of Senegalese forces.

I am eagerly looking forward to the full interview with Jammeh by Sane’, which is scheduled to be published in the Atlantic Magazine of Sene

Thanks for reading.