By Mathew K Jallow
The verbal clash that just erupted between Senegal’s President, Macky Sall, and Yahya Jammeh, epitomizes the dichotomy between democracy and tyranny, but it also illustrates the simmering diplomatic schism and benign political rift, which has eroded the fraternal relations between the sister countries. Yahya Jammeh’s unflattering vilification of two former and current Senegalese president, is an all too familiar refrain devised to detract public attention from Gambia’s soaring economic hardship, hijacked the political system, and efforts to avoid accountability for the terror unleashed on the Gambia. The signs of economic distress are ubiquitous and pervasive, but without an easy solution to the festering political and economic quandary, Gambia is a tinderbox waiting to explode. The hardship that plagues the Gambia, also shaped the gripping narrative of a country drifting slowly towards the wilderness of ignorance. Yahya Jammeh’s ad hominem attacks and dramatization of the demagoguery and jarring rhetoric against perceived threats, are a common subterfuge Gambians are familiar with, but the brunt of his desperate verbal assault has, hitherto, been reserved for the Gambia’s unrelenting dissidents, opposition party leaders, US, UK, the European Union and the Commonwealth. Senegal’s ongoing reactions to the needless criticisms of their revered political figures, has opened a new chapter in the latent cross-border verbal wrangling, and accomplished what the Gambia’s state-sanctioned murders, executions, tortures, incarcerations, fleeting of citizens to lands, near and far, could not achieve in two decades. The wrath of the Senegalese against Yahya Jammeh’s regime, which unlawfully killed Senegalese nationals, without suffering any adverse consequence, has finally been unleashed with the full force of untempered anger. The Senegalese were blindsided by Yahya Jammeh’s scathing criticisms of their beloved political leaders, hopefully the executions, torture and incarceration of Senegalese nationals by the Gambian regime, without the benefit of due process, will come to the surface again and stir more condemnation of Yahya Jammeh for crimes against Senegalese nationals, and in the process, help mitigate the lingering anguish of the Gambian people.
Since coming office in 2012, President Sall’s has demonstrated a complete lack of empathy with Gambia’s political quandary, and this may or may not be for an entirely geopolitical consideration, but Yahya Jammeh’s reckless descent into dangerous political terrain, has finally sparked blinding outrage all across Senegal, and perhaps, even provide answers to President Sall’s crippling moral dilemma over Gambia’s pitiful political plight. For, despite the executions, murders, incarcerations of Senegalese nationals, in addition to Yahya Jammeh’s arming the MFDC, and their use of Gambian territory as military base, Senegalese presidents appear to have been hamstrung by ideological pacifism from decimating the MFDC, in order to protect their citizens from the evil machinations of Gambia’s despotic psychopath.
Yahya Jammeh’s persona is not grounded in moral and ethical sensitivity; consequently, he is completely devoid of human feelings, and his capacity for reptilian cruelty spawned the unapologetically strident diaspora opposition to his diabolical regime, and growing international animus towards his ruthless reign. Across the globe, last week, Gambians offered moving apologies for Yahya Jammeh’s slander of two former and the current Senegalese president, written poignant op-eds to echo the universal condemnation of Yahya Jammeh’s ostentatious display of daftness, and pleaded with Senegal to discount the groundless smirching of the characters of their political leaders as unrepresentative of the biases of Gambians and their attitude towards Senegal’s political leaders. The fragile relations between President Sall and Yahya Jammeh, has entered a new, sensitive phase, but one should never underestimate Yahya Jammeh’s cunning capacity to bribe his way out of tense and potential career ending situations. But, Yahya Jammeh has triggered a national backlash against his bluster, insensitivity and disregard for human life, left untold, however, is his deep fear of President Macky Sall, whose ascension to power inadvertently curbed Yahya Jammeh’s meddling in the affairs of Guinea-Bissau, where he masterminded the assassination of legendary Gambian born former head of Guinea-Bissau’s military; Ansumana Manneh. But, the developing adversarial relations between President Sall and Yahya Jammeh, and Yahya Jammeh’s waning influence in Guinea-Bissau, have potential to be the beginning of the end of his terror in the Gambia. President Macky Sall just has to remain Yahya Jammeh’s reluctant kryptonite, and help finally end the existential threat that he poses to peace and stability in the tri-state sub-region of Senegal, Bissau and Gambia. If President Sall sticks to his guns, and refuses business as usual with Yahya Jammeh, it would not be the first time that a full-fledge democracy has helped collapse a vicious political tyranny. Yahya Jammeh’s ultimate desire is for President Sall to run Senegal the same way he rules Gambia as his fiefdom, and therein lies the yawing difference between a well-educated human being, and a primitive, uncivilized animal.