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New Presidential Carrier Arrives
Friday 28th October 2005

The government has announced the arrival of a new Presidential aircraft at the Banjul International Airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A press release from the Office of the President says the carrier – an IL 62 N Aircraft is equipped with modern safety devices and conveniences including a VIP configuration. The release says that the aircraft has been acquired within the framework of the technical assistance and the friendly relationship between The Gambia and the Republic of China on Taiwan.

This latest gesture by the Taiwanese government is a further manifestation of the ever-increasing mutual support and friendship between Banjul and Taipei the release stated.

Here comes the insult:

Water Shortage Hits Janjanbureh Jammeh Urged to Intervene
Friday 28th October 2005
By Momodou Justice Darboe

The provincial town of Janjangbureh in the Central River Division is currently experiencing an acute water shortage, reports say.

According to sources, the water scarcity that has persisted now for several weeks running is now threatening to degenerate to a full-blown crisis.

The Point gathered from interviews with some residents of the town that the people of Janjangbureh, especially women, are at present going through trying times to obtain potable water. An appeal is therefore being made to president Jammeh as Secretary of State for energy to intervene and ameliorate the problem.

“Mr. President, we strongly appeal to you to look into this matter and rescue us from our unceasing hardship. We are very much concerned about our health and that of our children as we have to depend on the river to get water,” posited a resident.

My take:

After reading these two stories, and you still think Yahya Jammeh is doing even a marginally decent job in running the affairs of state, I will not hesitate to call your case hopeless. Anyone with an once of conscience after reading these two stories will tell you that Yahya Jammeh has his freaking priorities effed up. On a second thought it is Gambians that are getting screwed. Yahya has his priorities straight. He is going to squeeze us out of every butut he could. His family, he told us will never want for anything as long as they live. So brace yourselves countrymen, if you want to get poorer and keep begging for hand outs from your own government, vote for Yahya, but if you want to be in charge of your own destiny, you know what to do come October 2006.

The stories are courtesy of the Point. I produced them here in their entirety to avoid broken links associated with most of their stories I linked to before. I may be pushing the envelop of fair use here though.

Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide was indicted today on perjury, false statement, and obstruction of justice charges in connection with a special counsel's probe into the leaking of a CIA officer's identity. Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser, apparently escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation.

The gring stole some of my Fitzmas presents. However, fantasy is way better than reality!I was supposed to get a ROVEr for Fitzmas and all I got was this stupid scooter. Might as well be socks and underwear. Or well life bites.

Here is a link to the pdf of the indictment

A decade after Yahya Jammeh took over power in a military coup; I am wondering what leadership qualities (if any) that Tony daba has learnt in his stint as a Lieutenant in the Gambia National Army. The military is believed to be one of the most efficient institutions in grooming leaders. So how good is Yahya Jammehs leadership skills? To accomplish this exercise, we will use certain benchmarks that good leaders adhere to:

  • Delegation of authority and taking responsibility: Good leaders delegate authority to subordinates with the understanding that decisions made by those subordinates is an extension of their own judgment and thus the final responsibility falls on their shoulder. In essence the buck stop at their desk.

How do Yahya fare in this realm? Poor. Since he took over we’ve seen a pattern of irresponsibility beyond belief. He refused to take responsibility for the orders he gave on that fateful day in april of 2001, when 14 students were murdered by the security forces. Yahya is unable to take responsibility for his failings. The Gambia is an economic hellhole due to the endemic corruption that pervades his administration with him as the chief “dirimo”, the fracas with our neighbor because of his un-diplomatic behavior. He always has some one to fire from a job for lack of performance. It is never his fault. He fired people from the agriculture and energy portfolio; appoint himself the overseer, only to get the worst result.

  • Lead by example: Don’t demand of others anything you wouldn’t want to be subjected to. A good drill sergeant will not order his men to do a 10-mile march and then drive alongside in a jeep; he is on the ground with them the whole way. He is usually the leader of the pack.

Again how did our yahya measured up to the above benchmark? Again not good at all. He as recently as last year set up a commission of enquiry to purge graft in government, have every public official and their mama testify to the source of their wealth but he refused to set the record straight as to how a person with a background like himself become so rich in such a short period of time.
  • Team determines success: The competency of the people around any given leader and how much latitude they have in expressing their views when it matters determines how successful the venture gets. A know it all, dictatorial leader like only sets up his team for failure.

Yahya isn’t faring well in this department either. He has vital government agencies staffed by incompetent tribal loyalist and sycophantic technocrats who will sell their soul for the back kicks that comes with the job in an environment endemic with corruption. Famara Jatta, Lamin Bajo and the disgraced doctor Janneh are examples of this phenomenon.

  • Solicit Feedback: Get out of your square. Listen and actively solicits information from sources outside of your inner circle. Chances are that you are not getting the full picture from those around you.

The chance that Yahya Jammeh will ever do something like that is beyond me. Sycophants who constantly remind him that he is the best thing that ever happen to that country surround him.

  • Make good decisions and be flexible about them: A good leader solicits ideas from all sources, weigh his options and make a decision. Sometimes, you don't have time to react, so you make a quick decision. Sometimes, you have the luxury of planning and intelligence assessment, and can take time to make a good call. But no decision is final- the field is fluid and you need to be able to react, even if it means countering a previous order.

Well yahya is just a different animal. He doesn't make decisions well, and when he does and they are bad he always has someone else to blame. Remember his promise about the electricity problem? He took over the portfolio, ordered some used generators from South Africa, pour libation on the machines and that was the last we heard about them. Gambians still live in darkness.

  • Serve the interest of your people: this point is self-explanatory. A political leader is a public servant. You take care of the governed, serve their interest and not your own.

If you look at the state of affairs in the Gambia, yahya has flunk this benchmark as well. He has the ancient “Mansa” (king) mentality down packed. He is to be served period.

There are many more leadership qualities that one can use to compare and contrast with the disastrous rule of yahya Jammeh, so fell free to add yours to the list. Here is my summation of the leadership acumen of the man keeping Gambia hostage:

- He doesn’t and will not take responsibility-
-He doesn’t lead by example
- He surrounds himself with unqualified tribal cronies and sycophantic technocrats
- He is out of touch with the needs of the average Gambian
- He makes poor judgment in decision making


Steve Clemons is reporting that Patrick Fitzerald has sent target letters. It is a rumor obviously, but what the heck. I figure I can have some fun at the expense of Bush's brain thrust aka turd blossom. Yeah dream I can because even when indicted Karl Rove will not do the perp walk. Republicans are all over the airwaves trivializing the gravity of outing a CIA agent and lying about it in a grand jury deliberation.This thing could really get interesting.

Fitzerald is still out there burning the midnight candle. Doting the Is and crossing the Ts if you believe this LA Times story.

I hope the gring won't steal my fitzmas.

When Rosa Parks refused to get up, an entire race of people began to stand up for their rights as human beings.

It was a simple act that took extraordinary courage in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. It was a place where black people had no rights white people had to respect. It was a time when racial discrimination was so common, many blacks never questioned it.

At least not out loud.

But then came Rosa Parks.

This mild-mannered black woman refused to give up her seat on a city bus so a white man could sit down.

Jim Crow laws had met their match.

Parks' refusal infused 50,000 blacks in Montgomery with the will to walk rather than risk daily humiliation on the city's buses.

This gentle giant, whose quietness belied her toughness, became the catalyst for a movement that broke the back of legalized segregation in the United States, gave rise to the astounding leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and inspired fighters for freedom and justice throughout the world.

Parks, the beloved mother of the civil rights movement, is dead, a family member confirmed late Monday.

Rest in peace Mrs. Parks. You are indeed a testament to Edmund Burke’s saying that: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." You stood up when it matters and the rest as they say is history.

Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter. Title 18, Section 1621 and 1623, U.S. Code.

If President Washington, as a child, had cut down a cherry tree and lied about it, he would be guilty of `lying,' but would not be guilty of `perjury.' If, on the other hand, President
Washington, as an adult, had been warned not to cut down a cherry tree, but he cut it down anyway, with the tree falling on a man and severely injuring or killing him, with President Washington stating later under oath that it was not he who cut down the tree, that would be `perjury.' Because it was a material fact in determining the circumstances of the man's injury or death.

Some would argue that the President in the second example should not be impeached because the whole thing is about a cherry tree, and lies about cherry trees, even under oath, though despicable, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I disagree.
The perjury committed in the second example was an attempt to impede, frustrate, and obstruct the judicial system in determining how the man was injured or killed, when, and by whose hand, in order to escape personal responsibility under the law, either civil or criminal. Such would be an impeachable offense. To say otherwise would be to severely lower the moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our leaders.

Nearly every child in America believes that President Washington, as a child himself, did in fact cut down the cherry tree and admitted to his father that he did it, saying simply: `I cannot tell a lie.'

I will not compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore it… That was Kay Bailey Hutchinson during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton

Now bear with me dear reader …pretty please. This is what the gentle lady from Texas has to say on meet the press today reacting to the possible indictment of some senior white house aides on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars…

Come again Mademoiselle…Isn’t she lucky that Americans have the attention span of hummingbirds? How about some one calling monsieur Clinton to comment on this one? I bet he would love to be accorded such a courtesy. While we are on a mission of mercy for perjurers, I suggest we should call Kay's office and ask whether she supports and will work towards exonerating and releasing Lil' Kim, since all she's in jail for is lying to a grand jury.

“After the by-elections, the agenda of NADD will proceed to be implemented, and one of the agenda is precisely looking at the issue of who will be the flag bearer for NADD,” Mr Sallah explained…the Point

With NADD preparing to announce the long awaited flag bearer that most supporters have been yearning, I have a word of caution for the selection committee: Leadership is not for wimps. It takes strength of character, people skills and an adherence to a set of steadfast principles. Anyone who is a leader - a team leader, a business leader, a political leader - will inevitably face the same task, that of exercising leadership in the face of adversity with a cool, calm and level headedness.

The hallmarks of a great leader lie in the ability of that person to bring certain key factors across to his team-mates. In other words, a leader has got to be charismatic enough to inspire his team with the will and motivation to get the task done. The primary key in achieving this revolves around the notion of vision, communication and in the case of the Gambia bravery.

It is axiomatic that every winning team must have a vision. Without it a team will never succeed simply because without vision, a team can't even know what success is and certainly won't know how to get there. Sort of like a headless chicken running around.

A leader's vision is his idea of what success means to him and the team. He is the individual who directs what needs to be done and it's his job to ensure that he conveys this picture to the rest of the team coherently, so as to get the job done. Hence, a leader's vision is what pulls the whole endeavor along. It is what the team struggles for, competes for, fights for and sacrifices for and under the correct leadership, will successfully attain.

NADD’s flag bearer will have his or her work cut out for him/her as far as vision is concerned. The whole endeavor is geared towards ending Yahya Jammeh’s tyranny. But that doesn’t negate the need for effective leadership. Vision thus gives a team a mission, a sense of purpose to get excited about and a reason for being charged up, enthused and motivated, but it takes a great leader to put together a great team, inspire them with a true sense of mission and purpose. NADD cannot afford to select some one lacking in this capacity.

A leader with a vision and a mission as important as changing the tyrannical political landscape that is the Gambia without the ability to convey this vision to a largely poor and illiterate electorate is akin to a hot air balloon without someone to work the controls. Hence, a key factor in good leadership is the simple ability to communicate with the team and in the case of elections to get your message across to the electorate. No amount of vision will help if the leader fails to get it across. And the key to getting it across is articulation.

However communication is a two-way street: talking and getting the message across, then listening to hear whether it was the correct message that actually got across. African politicians and Gambians for that matter are used to talking down to the electorate instead of listening. That's one of the most common dangers that beset Gambian leaders: that they do not listen and that they don't have the patience to listen. They are usually surrounded by sycophants and get carried away with this notion of self importance to a fault. Will NADD’s flag bearer avoid this pit fall? I don’t know. But the nation will be the winner if he does.

Dynamic leadership requires that a leader steers the project to a fruitful end or at least give it their all. Nothing is more important in unseating a decade old dictatorship than guts. If NADD should select some wimp to lead, knowing that Yahya Jammeh will stop at nothing to stay in power, the outcome is clear as day…NADD and Gambians by extension will lose. Tyranny will triumph. Any leadership aspirant who is not willing to go the extra mile should not be selected. This is not an entitlement and ego has no place here. We are talking about the lives and livelihood of our country men. It is a challenge and we trust that NADD will come up with someone we can all not only rally around, but some one who will work hard and stand up when tyranny gets confronted in October of 2006.

Black Leaders

I think it’s past time for there to be a changing of the guard in black leadership in America. People like Farrakhan, Sharpton and Jackson are no better than hustlers, bigots, and crooks. There are hundreds of black leaders who believe in improving the lives of black Americans, and America in general, but the media keeps giving time to the Axis of Irrelevancy.It’s time that stopped….Oliver Willis

Oliver's post made me queasy.Every time someone decides to ride Jesse Jackson for one thing or another, I recall that image of him on the balcony with Dr. King. He was there; the man took a stance when it matters. He was there advocating for the right to vote for black people. He was there advocating for poor people before many black folks could even think of making a decent living. It's an American foible to dismiss history as if it were so much rubbish. It's been said that while other cultures sense their heritage as if it's alive, Americans dismiss theirs; "that's history" is our pejorative. We just can't seem to figure out what is worth valuing, and we wipe the slate clean. Black America is no exception to this rule. Oliver and the folks at project 21 are a perfect examples of the “that’s history” crowd.

So where are they? The thousands of black leaders Oliver is talking about. Why don't they step up? Are they waiting to be handed power? There is a simple reason people still respect these folks (Jesse, Al and Louis) and I'm surprised it eludes Oliver...They actually speak out.

Jackson, sharp ton and Farrakhan have not just put in their voice, but their time. They’ve been at this, for what, four decades apiece? While I’m skeptical about some of the things Farrakhan, Jesse and sharpton do or say, their discipline is laudable. Leadership is earned by doing the hard, dirty and unpopular work. Despite their faults, Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan earned their stripes by doing just that. Until the people who carp about their leadership show up, stand up, and put up, these folks will always command respect from a sizable number of African Americans.

Under the gazing minarets of the Fagikunda mosque and just a stones throw from Sainey Njie street lies the Hyde park Vous. No most of the chapped lipped, ashy looking high school students gathering at this location after a day of hard knocks at school have never been anywhere remotely close to London's Hyde Park. Indeed we've never been anywhere outside the Gambia. Adorned by two home made wooden benches and a charcoal pot for the occasional “attaya”, we symbolize the African child. A slogan painted on the wall reads: NO CONDITION IS PERMANENT. Yup any metaphor hunting individual who has ever grace the continent of Africa will tell you that this slogan is written all over the place. The youngsters sitting and dreaming of changing conditions in my vous are grown men today, scattered all over the world in search of greener pasture and fulfilling at least for the families we left behind a dream that indeed no condition is permanent and in most of our cases those conditions were that of abject poverty in years yonder. Unfortunately this is not true for most of our brethren.

It is true that no condition is permanent, but some are recurring, especially when it comes to Africa. Tyranny every where you look on the continent, famine in Niger, a constitutional coup leading to hereditary rule in Togo, rampant corruption in the Gambia where the president gets loans from Allah's bank, Aids epidemic ravaging communities, genocide in Darfur—All of these can be a byline to a news report emanating from Africa in the past twelve months. Recurring indeed . And what is so maddening is the extent to which African states have suffered so many of the same misfortunes since independence. It is hard to imagine now, but at the dawn of the African independence from colonial rule, much of the continent was no worse off than what has come to be known the “Asian Tigers”. While Asian nations transformed themselves into economic powerhouses, African economies went south. While life and the pursuit of happiness thrive in most of Asia, Africans are getting poorer, living shorter, hungrier lives.

How can one continent be mired in so much wretchedness? It is an indisputable fact that most Africans are abjectly poor and are governed by corrupt and capricious regimes. Therefore the dispute is generally about causes and consequences. One school of thought ( it's poverty stupid) argues that African governments are so lousy precisely because their countries are so poor. The other school of thought (the good governance crowd) takes the opposite view that indeed it is the governments that are holding the people down. The arguments may sound like old cliché, but for the billions of dollars, and millions of lives that are at stake.

The poverty school of thought have made some in roads in appealing to the conscience of western donor countries to increase aid and forgive the unbearable debt burden that enslave African economies. This is a welcome gesture. But for all intents and purpose I count myself amongst the good governance crowd. However, the fundamental question confronting us is whether the western world have the will power to alleviate a continent's suffering, or if, for all their good intentions, Africans are really on their own. Call me crazy but I believe in the latter.

Taking into account Africa's geographical and historical handicaps, the main obstacle to progress on the continent is mainly political. The poverty school of thought raised some salient points about the terrible drought that afflicted most of Africa, dwindling the crop yield and thereby exacerbating an already nutritional nightmare. Granted this is a problem, but at the core of Africa's issues is the failure of African leaders to provide effective government. With good governance prevailing most of this nations can get fed by utilizing large scale industrial farming using private capital as was the case in Zimbabwe before the tyrannical Mugabe turn it into a basket case.

Humankind living in a fairly free system has the potential to fend for themselves and Africans cannot be an exception to this rule. No it is not a rule I am making up. It is happening as I write. The tech havens spreading all over Asia are a great example of how far ingenuity will take a people. So why is Africa so poor then? The answer I believe is misrule and it's ugly side kick corruption. Misrule and corruption aren't just part of Africa's problems, they are the problem. When government ministers loot social programs, it exacerbates poverty, disease and illiteracy. When customs agents demand bribes for allowing trucks to cross borders, it increases shipping costs, and hence the prices poor consumers pay. When rulers distribute jobs and contracts to their own tribal kin, it deepens ethnic divisions.

To tackle poverty without first reducing if not totally eradicating misrule and graft as the poverty school of thought proponents are suggesting will not wash. The aid money will end up were they usually some African dictators swiss bank account.

Photo: Courtesy of

The National-Security Crisis in The Gambia and the Impending 2006 Presidential Elections

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The forthcoming 2006 presidential elections in The Gambia is a defining event in our nation’s history. Clearly, it is one of the single most significant political events since independence in 1965, and certainly the most important election since the coup d’etat of 1994. The reasons are several: First, the 2006 presidential election is occurring at a time when the choice before Gambians is between continued insecurity and further decline into the abyss of deepening poverty and gross human rights abuses or a more peaceful and democratic future under a NADD leadership. Second, the 2006 presidential elections, on one hand, provide Gambians a clear choice between a regime that has by most empirical measures failed, and the promise of a new democratic political culture under a NADD leadership, on the other.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that our homeland is today teetering on collapse and has all the ingredients in place for internal political strife, violence and anarchy. In sum, the importance of The Gambia’s 2006 presidential balloting lies in its potential to circumvent the looming but real prospect of national disintegration and turn the country in a more peaceful direction. In other words, The Gambia’s growing national-security deficit has plunged it into a precarious direction that could result in bloodshed.

Eleven years after the July 1994 coup, The Gambia under Jammeh is trapped in a vicious cycle of growing authoritarianism and harrowing poverty. The state has, for all intents and purposes “failed” and unable to deliver basic social services, justice and/ or security protections for citizens. In fact, the first annual report on the list of potential “failed states” research conducted by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy listed The Gambia as a potential candidate among 60 nations on the brink of collapse. Ivory Cost made the top of the list and The Gambia the last spot at 60. Several African countries including DRC, Guinea, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Chad also made the top ten.

A “national-security state,” leadership paranoia and intransigence have intensified the current security-deficit of growing militarization and gun-culture in our homeland. The continuing presence of military decrees and bans to limit civilian participation in government has compromised what little democratic pretensions and human rights promises Jammeh and his government(s) made to Gambians following the coup. Without doubt, under Jammeh’s tenure security at all levels has been compromised.

Little wonder extra-judicial killings of civilians are on the rise with no one brought to justice for such horrific crimes. Ironically, Jammeh’s control of the state-security apparatus has not made him nor the country and its civilian population any more secure. Jammeh perceives threats and dangers everywhere, which leaves him paranoid and erratic. He has been known to invent conspiracies, counter-coups and hoax military attacks, which he then uses to eliminate political enemies. Accordingly, The Gambia’s security and human rights deficit together with a poor governance framework have plunged the economy into a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Under pressure from the IMF, and World Bank, Jammeh has now promised to root out corruption through his highly publicized-“Operation No Compromise.” At its best, “Operation No Compromise” is a lack-luster effort to salvage an already decaying economy and a tainted image of Jammeh himself. At worse, it is a cruel hoax that, in the end, does not deliver but scapegoats the most vulnerable- the poor, retail traders and his political enemies. Poor economic performance coupled with a combination of related factors that include: low agricultural productivity, mismanagement, over-borrowing and spending, a weak currency, rampant inflation, a rising external debt, and endemic corruption, are largely to responsible for the current economic crisis.

Jammeh, therefore, presides over an economy that has failed. It was apparent in 2001 and perhaps as early as 1997 that the Gambian economy was in shambles. Unpredictable policy decisions and weak state capacity negatively impacted economic performance and in the end, precipitated an economic crisis never seen before in The Gambia. Increasingly, some critics express, with growing boldness, deep remorse over the country’s economy and decay in physical infrastructure. They lament the decline in moral standards seen in rising greed, criminality and corruption that the regime seems to have exacerbated.

In the end, Jammeh’s policies have succeeded in undermining the very principles upon which his neo-liberal economic strategy- “Vision 2020” rested, and in doing so, jeopardized the short-term economic recovery and future economic prospects of the Gambian economy. Today, over 65 per cent of the population lives at the cusp of hunger and starvation. The lack of access to basic water and electricity supplies are now more the norm and some communities go for months without both. This has meant suffering and deepening poverty for the bulk of the rural and urban poor. Despite construction of several new high and middle schools, large rural hospitals and the construction of a new television station and university, which are clearly welcome developments, Gambians are worse of economically today than they were in 1993.

Today, a combination of both active and “retired” military officers, some unscrupulous civil-servants and business-persons and torn-coat “intellectuals” now constitute a new social “class” that has bankrupted the country while the poor go hungry daily. Therefore, Gambians are today witnessing and victims of unprecedented human rights violations and a country teetering on economic collapse and national disintegration similar to what occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Another continuing challenge to The Gambia’s national-security is the “culture of impunity” and the “culture of silence” in which government-security agents and quasi-government groups take the law into their hands with official sanction or silence. The cultures of impunity and of silence are pervasive, in part because the citizenry accept government atrocities as a matter of life. A conservative political culture mixed with fatalistic tendencies deriving partly from conservative Sunni Islam, have conspired to ensure citizen compliance. Thus, a façade of peace prevails, which the population appears to cherish rather than challenge. In doing so, maintaining “peace” is used as ideological ammunition by a repressive regime to quell dissent even though both state-sponsored abuse and citizen insecurity are on the increase.

Ultimately though, the greatest threat to The Gambia’s national-security lies within the army itself. Internal factionalism, poor discipline and training, and growing discontent within it could result in overt and deadly conflicts. These conflicts are then likely to spill-over into society and could lead to national disintegration. Add to this the brewing tensions between a growing refuge and immigrant population, on one hand, and an underclass urban Gambian youth population, on the other. These growing tensions could erupt in political violence. And precisely because of the absence of government and societal governance institutions and mechanism to curb these tensions, a failed state syndrome now exists in The Gambia which could push it over the precipice.

In sum, under Jammeh’s leadership there is what I term a “triple crisis” of governance. The first is the lack of accountability and the rule of law as evidenced in pervasive corruption, criminal violence, and personalization of power and human rights abuses. The second crisis is economic. It stems in part from a failure to implement prudent economic policies. The third crisis can be seen in the deteriorating living conditions and well-being for the bulk of Gambians. These crises constitute a serious national-security deficit. They are the net effect of eleven years of military and quasi-military misrule and all directly impact national and personal security immensely. It is these characteristics that precisely define a failed state syndrome. Together, they constitute the greatest challenge to The Gambia’s continued existence as a country.

Therefore, good leadership in conjunction with a sound governance policy framework are essential ingredients to maintaining national-security and building a democracy. This is more the reason why we should do all we can to ensure NADD’s victory in 2006. Because in the end, the nature and quality of governance under a NADD leadership and the types of policies it chooses, will be important in shaping the security apparatus and the economy.

The formation of NADD in January 2005 as well as growing international and domestic pressures on Jammeh bode well for the future of democracy and security in The Gambia. Yet, a lot remains to be done before the 2006 presidential elections. In addition to the issue of a standard-bearer, a level playing field must be put in place as well as new registration of voters. Additionally, a non-partisan and reconfigured IEC to allow for NADD representation, media access for NADD, franchise for Gambians living abroad, the presence of international observers and most importantly, financial support from the Diaspora could make all the difference in 2006.

Furthermore, the AU must be dissuaded from holding its summit in The Gambia in 2006, shortly before the elections. Otherwise, this would be sending the wrong signals and constitutes tacit approval of Jammeh’s abysmal human rights record. Accordingly, intense international pressure from the Commonwealth, Britain, the EU, Japan and the US must be focused on the AU to cancel its planned summit. These development partners, together with NADD, Senegal and Nigeria must also insist on free and fair elections in 2006 without violence and intimidation. The continuing presence of extremely punitive Media laws, removal from the national assembly of four national assembly members and what many believe to be the politically motivated assassination of Deyda Hydara may signal a more repressive and violent future heading into the 2006 presidential elections.

While all hope is not lost in returning The Gambia to the functioning democracy which it once was, there are indeed troubling dark clouds on the horizon with potential negative effects. The 2006 Presidential elections and a NADD victory are crucial in averting the looming but real threat to The Gambia. Free and fair elections, ladies and gentlemen, offer us the best hope for peaceful change in The Gambia, the alternative could spell disaster. As the saying goes, “if you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent change inevitable.”

In conclusion, I wish to commend STGDP-Minnesota for this wonderful contribution and their productive collaboration with STGDP-Atlanta. I encourage all NADD and other Gambian Organizations in the US and Europe to strengthen contacts with each other, work together more to harmonize fundraising and other activities. Because in STGDP we have what may, in fact, be the makings of an international Gambian Organization that would give Diaspora Gambians considerable political and economic leverage.

Thank you!

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