Fatoumata Jawara is a prisoner of conscience

Fatoumata Jawara is a prisoner of conscience

The Gambia’s embattled leader is showing signs of desperation, as evidenced in his government’s handling of weeks of political crisis. The crisis would have been carefully managed had the government listened to opposition voices. But you don’t expect anyone who is above 50 years to change his bad manners overnight. Those who expect Yahya Jammeh to change course should know that dictators understand only the language of bullying. In fact, I concur with the theory that dictatorship is a psychological condition that needs urgent attention. This means helping children who develop early signs of dictatorship before they reach to Jammeh’s level.

Yahya Jammeh finds himself in a quagmire that deepens on a daily basis. It all boils down to one simple question: where is Solo Sandeng? This question keeps intimidating the entire Gambia government so much that no single official — not even the master spinner Interior Minister Ousman Sonko or loudmouth Information Minister Sheriff Bojang– is courageous enough to provide the answer. It is a question that has been drastically changing the political landscape, with many people, including diplomats believing that Sandeng, an executive member of the opposition United Democratic Party, was a victim of extrajudicial execution. The government’s failure to answer this simple question has become unsettling for officials of a country whose President last November vowed to kill some opposition leaders ahead of the December 2016 elections. In a nutshell, Yahya Jammeh has honoured his promise.

Instead of coming clean on what exactly happened to Mr. Sandeng, Yahya Jammeh creates room for more negative national and international attention. He has also energised the long oppressed people to take to the streets in protest, something no one imagined barely a month ago. Protest, which is now in Gambians’ DNA, can only cease to exist when Solo is produced dead or alive and all the peaceful protesters, including the UDP leadership, are freed. Once that is not done Gambians will continue to vent their frustration and anger on the streets.

The arrest of a month’s old baby with her mother on Monday is sending signals that the dictatorial regime is totally getting frustrated. What does one get any benefit from such an arrest and detention other than negative backlash? The arrest of Lamin Barrow, husband to Fatoumata Jawara who remains detained since April 14th, is calculated attempt to tear families apart. Gambians have reached to a point in which every act of tyrannical act breeds defiance. The arrest of husband and wife is aimed at destabilising the family.

Just answer the simple question: where is Solo Sandeng? If not it will never be life as usual for your team of cowards. I end with an Igbo proverb that “a child who doesn’t listen to wise ones will surely follow lizards to the graveyard.”

Ends

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