Ndure Cham and I watching the Senegalese Independence Anniversary parade in Dakar in 2004

Ndure Cham and I watching the Senegalese Independence Anniversary parade in Dakar in 2004

The former Aide de Camp of President Yahya Jammeh has opened up his bitter encounter with the mastermind of the March 21st abortive coup. Lt. Col. Lamin Gano, who became the first high-ranking military official to resign from the army, explains how his pre-coup exchange with Col. Ndure Cham turns sour. Gano writes in his blog [www.lamingano.com] that the former Army Chief of Staff likened him to “a dirty civilian” who believes in the power of ballot to remove the man who was ready to kill them. Lt. Col. Gano is also a former military spokesman.

INTRODUCTION

I was having breakfast at the Defence Headquarters of the Gambia Armed Forces on Wednesday the 1st of March 2006 when  Colonel Ndure Cham, the Chief of Defence Staff at that time, came in to the mess to smoke a cigarette. No sooner had he lighted up a cigarette than he started to talk to me about President Jammeh. He gave me a long list of wrong and bad things that the President has done and an equally lengthy list of good things that he has failed to do. The Colonel argued that Jammeh was not only a liability to the Gambia and her people but also a big problem for the West African sub region as well as an obstacle for the general progress of the African Continent. In his opinion, Jammeh had completely outlived his usefulness as a president and therefore had to leave power by all means necessary.

When the Chief of Defence Staff finished talking, I responded: “Well, Sir, I agree to some extent on your assessment of Jammeh. However, I beg to differ on your concept of by all means necessary. But luckily for us, it is election year and I am sure that Gambians are well aware of the record of their President and they would therefore most certainly make the right decision in September on whether to renew his mandate or to change him. Col Cham lost his temper on me and threw a few profanities at me before adding:

“Gano, you are talking like a dirty civilian. You see somebody aiming a weapon at you and you are telling me that you will dive when he pulls the trigger. This man is going to kill all of us before the elections. You continue to sit there and wait, I am not waiting for any bloody elections”.

I did not understood what he meant by that remark until three weeks later on the 22 March when I came to work and found the Defence Headquarters under siege by personnel of the State Guards Battalion. When I got to my office, I was informed by a female Corporal that there was a coup attempt the previous night. What happened on the 21st of March 2006 and its consequences is in the history books and still fresh in the minds of some of us.

Ten years have passed since my exchange with Colonel Cham and while a lot of things have changed, some things have not. For example, it is election year once again for the Republic of The Gambia; President Jammeh is still in power; the discourse on the good, the bad and the ugly of Jammeh and his government is still ongoing; and some still share Colonel Cham’s views that Jammeh must be removed from power by all means necessary including the use of force.

However, one important thing that has also not changed is my conviction that who governs The Gambia should be a collective decision made by the majority of the Gambian people and that decision is best made through free, fair and peaceful elections. It is not the prerogative of any one person or a small group of people be they soldiers, rebels or civilians to make unilateral decision on the destiny of a country. Coup d’états had not been able to solve Africa’s governance, security, development, health and economic problems in the past and I don’t believe that they will ever solve those problems in the future.

Culled from www.lamingano.com

Ends

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