On Jammeh: Africa missed a chance to set Dictators straight

[AFP] Jammeh waving to supporters as he leaves for the beaches of Equatorial Guinea, obviously in high spirits

I was thinking about the situation with Jammeh in the Gambia, and while I am happy that the situation was resolved without military action and any loss of life, I don’t like how it ended.

Jammeh reportedly secured immunity for himself and members of his cabinet, left the country with at least 13 vehicles, and seems set up for this life and the next going by some accounts of the money he has ‘stolen’.

With the AU, ECOWAS, and the UN helping to broker the deal that will see him ‘escape punishment’ for his ‘crimes’ against The Gambia, I fear Africa sent the wrong message to (would-be) dictators across the continent.

“Steal as much as you want, refuse to concede power after free and fair elections, and we’ll get you a great lifetime vacation in the interests of peace.”

There is nothing stopping other African dictators, or incumbents with dictatorial tendencies, from holding onto power after losing elections in the hopes of a ‘political solution’. After all — they can follow the Jammeh playbook and escape into asylum somewhere with idyllic beaches.

“ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully (???) belonging to former President Jammeh or his family and those of his Cabinet members, government officials and Party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.” — UN & Partners Press Release.

I still think the right thing to do was broker a political solution rather than a military one, but it appears we missed a chance to send a strong message to Dictators by negotiating a tougher deal with Jammeh.

Democracy is (hopefully) here to stay. Leaders should shape up or get out.