The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding has called on President Jammeh in a letter to respect the verdict of the people by stepping down to avoid devastation. The full text reads as follows:
January 14 2017
An Open Letter to His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhagi Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of The Gambia
Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhagi Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa
President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of The Gambia
Banjul, The Gambia
The Choice Between History and “Heroism”
At the efflux of time on the 18th of January 2017, 12:00 midnight to be exact, the constitution of The Gambia provides that you will cease to be the President of the Country. With the current political impasse following the December 1 election and subsequent declaration of your opponent (now President Elect Adama Barrow) as the winner of the election and your rejection of the outcome (even after you had accepted it), a vacuum in the presidency and a major political crises/possible anarchy looms.
Your Excellency, the whole world and all of us in Civil Society applauded the graciousness and statesmanship in the concession statement you made at the declaration of the December 1 2016 election result and looked forward to receiving you as a private citizen and tapping from the wealth of your experience in political governance that span over two decades. Even when others thought your acceptance of the outcome of the election was “UnAfrican”, we knew it was the right thing to do and indeed the new chapter of democracy in Africa. Nigeria did same, Benin did, Ghana just did and the list would have been more beautiful and the tradition sustained should The Gambia have followed suit.
Excellency, you would agree and in fact you alluded to it in the concession statement that God has been merciful and faithful to you. At the age of 29, you were already bestowed with the highly revered office of the president of your country – a status you have kept for 22 years. The people of Gambia have consistently voted for you and maintained the status quo in several elections that kept you in power. In this instance, they have made a different choice and opted for your brother and age mate, President Elect Adama Barrow. Your Excellency, you categorically said that even if it was with one vote that this statement was made, you will respect it. This is the time to show that the voices, reasons and choices of Gambians matter.
Your Excellency, it has rarely happened in the history of electoral process that everyone
including friends and adversaries have spoken in unanimity about the outcome of an election and transition as in the case of The Gambia. Your peers, ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, Bilateral and Multilateral Partners, Civil Society Organizations, Religious and traditional institutions, Women and youth groups, embassies and international organizations are all in one accord in their opinion of the outcome of the election and in their plead to Your Excellency to accept the verdict of the people.
Your Excellency, across African continent and in the very close neighbouring country of Cote
d’Ivoire, you have seen the devastating effects of disputed electoral processes and its impact on the lives of citizens, developments and infrastructures chalked over the years. In fact, Your Excellency has been at the centre of the resolution of most of these political crises in and around our region. In a country you have suffered to build and with a citizen that have shown you loyalty and love over the past 22 years, Your Excellency would not want The Gambia to go through this avoidable catastrophe. The cost will be enormous, devastating and could outlive Your Excellency’s generation.
Your Excellency, on behalf of our over 550 members across West Africa, our affiliate
organizations and Civil Society partners across the globe, I plead with Your Excellency to
reconsider your decision and stay on the side of history than prove the needless act of
“heroism”. Your Excellency has no doubt made tremendous contribution to the development of The Gambia and in shaping the democratic culture and good governance of our region and continent. How Your Excellency ends his service as President of The Gambia in elegance will determine how your next phase of service to Africa will be fashioned and in how your legacies will be imprinted in the annals of history.
As the clock ticks and the pressure to be on the side of history or be “the hero” continues to
mount on Your Excellency, one thing that we are certain is that you have the utmost power of the choice and we pray that Your Excellency makes this choice aware of the implication of each of the options on the people of The Gambia and on the history you leave for generations behind.
With utmost respect to your office, fervent hope and anticipation, we wish Your Excellency all the best in this important decision and wish you well in your future service to Africa.
On Behalf of the Members of WANEP
Chukwuemeka B Eze FICMC, FSPSP